When we have kids, we make a big deal about their birthdays. We hope the party is just the way we planned it and that, most important, our children feel special for that one day each year.
But, when it comes to Mom’s big day, it is another story. Now that my kids are older, they like to buy my gift. Yet they feel overwhelmed when they have to purchase it at 10 p.m. the night before, when everything is closed.
So this year I told them I did not want them to make or buy me anything. Instead, they had to be nice to each other for 24 hours without talking back to each other or me.
Generally they are pretty kind to one another, but the petty bickering of late was driving me nuts.
I had a great day planned. I wanted a relaxing day to myself when I did not have to drop off, pick up, cook or clean. I wanted to go to the beach before everyone woke up. I wanted to sit at Salt Creek Beach and watch the waves. When I felt I had sufficiently solved the world’s problems in my mind, I would take off to Starbucks for a latte and actually read a paper rather than scanning the synopses on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
I would then go home, shower, use the scrubbing gloves I received in a gift basket at Christmas, check e-mail, play a computer game and head to lunch with my girl friend. Later I would go to a movie and head home, where dinner would be waiting for me.
Who was I kidding? My husband was out of town on business, so I was flying solo with the kids, car pool and everything else. My son came home needing a check for yet an other activity. My daughter had an orthodontist appointment. It was another day of running around for everyone else.
By the time we got home, friends called and asked if they could take us out. It was fun, but it is never the same when your whole family is not there to share it.
We came home. Exhausted, I fell into bed, realizing that I had forgotten to switch a load of laundry downstairs.
When I finally returned to bed, I began to relax and had a chance to reflect. I did get one present. The kids were great to each other all day. Work got done around the house without complaints. It made me smile. Furthermore, I realized that my husband was out of town on business. In a down-turning economy, my husband is gainfully employed, which is itself a gift.
When I really thought about it, we were all happy and healthy. We have all of our needs met—and some of our wants. Overall, I could not complain. It really was a great birthday.
This year on your birthday, remember to appreciate what you do have. Perspective is a wonderful thing, and sometimes that can be enough.