In 13 days, my oldest child will be back in school. In 17 days, my youngest will start kindergarten and this week will be the last week I have to pay daycare fees forever and ever. So, I should be in a pretty good mood, or at least feeling a lightening of the gloom that always descends at the end of the summer when I am desperately ready to have my house back. But then that thing happened—that thing that keeps coming around every damn year, every August, to completely destroy any hope I may have had of feeling happy for 5 minutes.
My fucking birthday.
I turned 43 on Sunday. And my family rarely does anything special for my birthday, but every year on David's birthday, I give the girls a budget and they get to go to the dollar store to buy him goofy presents. I get him a couple real presents, and then we decorate the kitchen and make a cake and have a little family party for him. So, David has finally clued in that I am trying to teach the girls that we treat everyone in the family special on their birthday, not just them, and so I think he might have done the same thing for me this year, but we are flat broke, so we couldn't even afford a trip to the dollar store. Still, I might have thought that they would have tried to do something, expend some small effort to make the day feel a little bit special for me, but they didn't. He didn't. And he so often doesn't, and it just makes me unbearably sad.
When my oldest daughter turned seven a couple years ago, she complained later in the day that her birthday wasn't fun enough. I asked her to think back and remember what they had done for my birthday that year. She couldn't remember, so I told her: nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not a card. Not a happy birthday, mom. Nothing.
If it wasn't for fucking Facebook, I would probably be able to forget it altogether, which seems like a damn good idea at this point.
If I mention that I feel ignored and sad on my crappy birthdays, he reminds me that he threw a 40th birthday party for me. Indeed he did. Do you know how many people came to my party? Four. It was at our friends' house and the guests were them and one other couple. We had takeout sushi and cupcakes. On David's 40th, I rented a really cool room, and had it catered. I had balloons everywhere and made these fun Japanese-themed gift bags for all the guests and invited absolutely everyone. My best friend and I made a huge chocolate raspberry cake with like five layers. And I loved doing all that for him.
And I know we couldn't afford such a thing now, and I know my friends are scattered all over the country, and I know he did his best, but it is still just so depressing to me that I am not supposed to hope for more than some takeout on a decade year. I know he's overworked right now, but this would have happened even if he wasn't, and I would have been happy with him making me breakfast, or taking the girls out for a couple hours so I could have some time alone. Shit, I would have been happy for him to just hug me and tell me happy birthday, but he couldn't even be bothered to do that. It's not the stuff I want. I just want him to want to do those things for me, to take pleasure in surprising me and spoiling me just a little.
And then, to top it all off, I called my mom to check on her while my dad is out of town, and she didn't say anything either. My own mom forgot my birthday.
And of course, I feel stupid and petty for even caring about this at all. I shouldn't give a shit about something so meaningless, and I am perfectly capable of doing things for myself, right? I can bake my own goddamn cake and make my own fucking breakfast and just tell him he's taking the kids because I'm going out and I'll be back when I'm back.
And then I remember I have almost no one to go see when I go out.
I want to be the kind of person that people want to celebrate with, but I'm not. I never have been. I remember once when I was in college, some friends shared a dorm room across a courtyard from my room, and I could see their room from my window. One of them was having a birthday, and they had a couple other girls over and cake and it wasn't anything major but it was a party and I had just seen them not long before and they didn't ask me to come. They didn't want me. I was always the sort of person who would be included if I happened to be around at the right time, but was never sought out. For a while, in my late twenties and early thirties, I found people I fit with and it was so wonderful, but then we had babies and more demanding jobs and people moved away, and now there is only one of them left. And I love her and am grateful to have her in my life, but still - the babies and the jobs mean I don't see her much even though she lives just around the corner. I have spent so much time alone over the last five years, and lost so much self-confidence, and have aged what looks and feels like 20 years in those five, that those parts of my personality that make me hard to approach and difficult to know have only become exaggerated. It's not that I am high maintenance—quite the opposite—but I'm just not bubbly.
I envy those people who can walk in a room and start talking to anyone and can be comfortable and never seem to feel like they are intruding or are unwelcome or alien. I always feel alien. And often, quite often in the last couple of years in fact, I can take that feeling of always being "other" and channel it into writing. I think that's where a lot of my humor comes from. But sometimes, like now, it just makes me feel freakish and lonely.
I'll get over this; I always do. I'm not always a whiny baby about this stuff. But I've had a LOT of shitty birthdays over the years, and sometimes one just gets to me more than the others. I'm not fishing for happy birthdays or suggestions. I just needed to get this out. Thanks for listening.
So, let's hear about the worst birthday you ever had.