Some people don’t like celebrating their birthdays. They don’t like the cake, the balloons, the gifts. On their birthday, all they want is to skip lot of overdone whoop-de-doo and be left alone. I’m one of those people and here’s why:
Each year, on the day I was born, I get well wishes from family and friends and from people I hardly know — like my dentist and insurance agent. I even get a few auto-sent greetings from websites I’ve visited that required my birth date when I signed up. “Why?” I always ask myself, “Why the big deal?”
Okay, so I was born. How does that entitle me to gifts and cake every year for the rest of my life? Being born didn’t require a single thing of me. I didn’t do anything that day except arrive, kicking and screaming, and demanding attention from the very first breath.
You know who should receive the gifts and cake on my birthday? Mom — she’s the person who actually did something the day I was born.
While I sat snug in her womb, enjoying weightless quiet and benefitting from the food she ate, the songs she hummed and her sweet disposition, she was managing hunger pangs, a bulging belly and a painful back. And then, when I picked the moment, she suffered through hours of gut-busting labor and delivered.
Oh sure, Mom gets a token day — Mother’s Day — when we show our appreciation for everything she has done for us since we were born. And, yes, birthday celebrations are a tried-and-true way for parents to show their love for their children. Fact is I am all for kids’ birthdays; nothing warms the heart like seeing an eager tot’s smile when the cake is brought out.
Still, it seems to me, now that I am grown up, my birthday ought to be spent honoring Mom. Her hard labor brought me into this world. Give the cake and gifts and attention to her. She’s the one who deserves it.
— Marie Lemond
Marie Lemond is an essayist living in Washington state.