Every year around the beginning of November my husband and I fall out. It’s not down to the darker evenings or the nights drawing in, or even the never-ending lurgies our children pick up – it’s because my birthday passes every year without event. And this “non-event” always causes an argument between me and my husband. It might have a lot to do with the fact that when I was a child, birthdays were a big Disney-style event. My mother would make a real fuss out of each of us; my siblings and I would always have at least one birthday party, an elaborate handmade cake, about four birthday cards (including from the dogs and cats) and lots and lots of presents.
The birthday boy or girl would be spoiled rotten and was meant to be treated like royalty at all times throughout the day. Woe betide anyone who would be unkind or pick an argument with them – they would have the wrath of my mother to deal with!
Not so in my husband’s family. It was far less sentimental and, in his words, indulgent. You got one decent present, rarely a party, and were lucky if everyone in the family remembered the occasion. I used to agree with him, but now I’m approaching my sixth decade I think my mother was right – birthdays are important. Two years ago we lost a great friend due to his ongoing mental health battle around the time of his birthday. It knocked me for six and made me appreciate birthdays, because another year should be celebrated. Life should be celebrated.
Don’t get me wrong, my husband is not some birthday grinch. He buys me flowers, gifts, cooks me lunch, tidies the house and does the school run on my big day. But he doesn’t think it’s as important as I do and that causes an argument every year. In his book, it’s enough to say “Happy Birthday” in the morning and not drag the event out throughout the whole day. But I like to feel special the whole day. I want to escape from the mundane for one day of the year and steer clear of the kitchen and laundry for at least 24 hours. Of course, when you throw children into the mix this is not always possible. By the end of the evening I am usually in tears; I cannot wait for the day to be over. This year I didn’t even pour myself a glass of wine, despite having opened a really nice bottle. I had to make up for it the following day – which is always a better day as I don’t have any expectations whatsoever. I should call it a “pity party for one”!
Call me petty, and I probably am, but every year I post a picture of him on social media celebrating his birthday. His friends call him and people remember, possibly because of it. Let’s face it, it’s nice to get a few cards, text messages or phone calls on our birthdays. He doesn’t like social media so the favour is never returned and that causes a bit of resentment on my part.
I’m quite pleased when my birthday is over so that I don’t have to be annoyed with him (and in turn with myself). But, when it comes to other people’s birthdays, I love them. Next year I’m not going to take any chances. I’m going to plan my own fun and organise my own party, apparently another rite of passage into middle age.
Read more: I’m cooking the households books to pay for my secret ‘tweakments’