When I was a little girl and my mother’s birthday would roll around, I’d get excited as if it were my own. And every year I’d ask eagerly, “Mommy, what do you want for your birthday?” Her answer would always be the same: “Just some peace and quiet.” So like a good daughter my gifts would revolve around giving her a break — Calgon bath salts and coupons for hugs and chores around the house (hey, I was like eight).
Now that I’m creeping up on the age that my mother was when all she wanted for her birthday was for us to not rip and run through the house quite so much, I’m thinking about how much I should be bothered with my own birthday.
I turn an age that’s over thirty and under thirty-five this week. I’m leaving out the gory specifics both because I might want to start lying about my age one day (I’m only being halfway sarcastic, here) and because the range is all you need to know for me to make this point.
Every birthday up until 30 was at least a semi-big deal, but my 30th birthday was the jam to end all jams. I had three big parties, got to see and hear from all of my loved ones, and really felt something in the air. I’d reached a milestone age of confidence, organization, and was focused on my purpose. I knew that thirty was going to be a great year for me.
My 31st birthday was another story. Turning 31 was like the first Christmas you realize there is no Santa Claus; aside from the obligatory nod to ages ending in fives and zeros, the whole birthday thing is kinda just another day for the rest of your life. Instead of being excited enough to do a bunch of plottin’ and plannin’ to make my annual big day count, I was just happy to have been around for another year and told friends to meet me out for dinner if they were so inclined. They’re great people, so they came, but I could only muster the mildest excitement for my own party.
Since I have another birthday coming up I’ve been wondering: when is it time for me to just ask for peace and quiet like Mommy always did us kids? Isn’t it enough to have your Facebook wall explode with messages and have someone play Stevie Wonder’s version of “Happy Birthday” for you? I’m starting to think that maybe it is. I’m perfectly fine with my age and try to celebrate life every day, so do I really need to draw attention to myself just because it’s my birthday?