Have you ever looked forward to a day so badly to then only have the pains of life, both literally and figuratively, intervene in the way that day progresses? I feel this often happens to me. Sometimes, you build up days and events so much that there is no way real life can math up to that build up. I suppose we are all guilty of that. I remember quite well watching movies growing up that seemed to try to impart that knowledge. Have you ever watched the movie Sixteen Candles? Here’s a synopsis. A girl, Samantha, looking forward to her 16th birthday has endless embarrassing things happen to her days and hours before her birthday. Interestingly it was that movie that taught me about Sweet Sixteens. Until I saw that movie I didn’t realize that 16 was such a big deal. Don;’t even get me started on Quinceneras (the Latino celebration of turning 15). But back to the movie. To top it all off Samantha’s sister has to take some tranquilizers right before her own wedding causing further havoc in Samantha’s life. At the end, spoiler alert, she does get her Sixteen Candles.
I think that movie had an immensely profound effect on me growing up. Although, probably not in the way that John Hughes (teen angst expert and filmmaker extraordinaire) had anticipated. I grew up believing that birthday’s had to be grand. Not grand in terms of gifts. I didn’t grow up getting too many birthday gifts as we were pretty poor. But I believed that birthdays had to be recognized emotionally. Being brought into the world is a big deal. There needs to be a sense of gratitude on our parts and just a few moments that are just for us to take in the world.
When I went into the work world, I made a promise to myself. I didn’t want to spend my birthday around people that didn’t bring me joy. Such a promise might seem quite extreme. But till this day, I staunchly believe this. For my birthday, I usually either take the day off or work from home. I try to avoid any madness that can ensue in a workplace. Why get caught up in other people’s drama on your special day? This has been my life policy for a decade now. I truly never understand those people that go to work on their birthday. Why do it? I see no upside.
Sadly, I can’t have that same life policy for my son’s birthday. Not yet. This year, for the first time ever, he got to celebrate his birthday at school. California starts their school year earlier than New York does. Thus, no school parties for him n New York as his birthday is in August. He was beyond ecstatic that he got to spend his birthday at school. I have come to realize that he is way more social than I am. I still love him. However, as a result of his enthusiasm and the fact that California likes to start school early (go figure) I couldn’t just spend the day with him celebrating the day he graced us with his presence. And also the day I gave birth to him. I put some work into that event of his birth. I should be able to celebrate. Alas, that wasn’t even the odd part of the day.
The day started off with me popping a Valium and being rolled into an MRI. That machine does not like me. I had done just fine with it years ago. Nowadays, however, I need to calm my newly claustrophobic nerves. Thus, on my son’s birthday, I had to take a Valium. How symbolic, eh? To top it all off, afterwards, I had to go into work and review documents upon documents. What a drag and a half.
I’d like to propose to the powers that be, that kids get to have a free day off on their birthdays so that their moms can celebrate wholeheartedly. Life would be so much sweeter. As it is, I still got to celebrate with my son with a small birthday party at school where I got to see him shine, laugh and just be merry. No MRI can take that away from me. To see him be happy, skip and jump because his birthday falls on a school day fills me with joy even if I myself dread going to workplaces on my birthday.