Each year, I think of life on my own birthday, of age at my friends’ and of love on my husband’s. But there are three days in a year when I am filled with memories, hopes, and dreams. Those are November 8, May 31 and February 11, the three wonderful days when I received the gift of a new life.
Looking back, I realize how selfishly I had celebrated each of my children’s birthdays as my own special day. While I ordered their favorite cake and sent out invitations, I focused on what I thought was the best of the best. Yes, the clowns, magicians and even that guitar-playing-silly-song-singing woman were those they had enjoyed at other parties and yes, the guests were their friends and classmates. But the party had always been mine.
For weeks I fussed over selecting the perfect card, ordering that Cabbage-patch-kid, Hello Kitty, or Ninja Turtle cake. I bought half the merchandize at Party City to decorate the house. I slaved over sewing the ruffled dresses the girls now mock and somehow managed to find the biggest Piñatas in Chicago. I took picture after picture to preserve the memory.
Now decades later, there are no more birthday parties around my house as young adults arrange their own gatherings. I page through old albums just to realize they are much more my memories than theirs. My kids look at those pictures and are embarrassed by the old-fashioned clothes their mom put on them, the stack of gifts are long forgotten and they have lost touch with most of those kids.
I close my eyes and hear the high pitch laughter, the tiny footsteps running up and down the stairs and their special song. “Once you were small and now you are big, now you are big, I’ll sing you a birthday song!” I push back the tears and can still taste the excessive frosting on their cake. There’s no longer a need for elaborate parties to remind me of my three priceless gifts.