It’s my birthday today.
Now, birthdays in our house are very special. Usually I wake up extra early. I look at Joel still sound asleep. I think, My o my he is OUT. He looks EXHAUSTED. He must have been up all NIGHT planning this day. This is gonna be GOOD.
I can’t wait for long so I jab Joel awake and as he sleepily, groggily rolls over, he meets the expression on my face which reads, Okey Dokey. Here I am! I’m READY. Let’s get this birthday STARTED! And Joel has learnt to indeed, get it started. This is how he has learnt to start the day, every day it is April the 28th:
Joel: Happy Birthday to the greatest woman in the world!!! Can I make you a cup of tea my sweet angel of radiant, glistening light?
Joel: And then breakfast in bed?
Me: Batting my eyes. For me? You’d do that for me?
Then, I wait. I know what is coming. There are treasure hunts. There are presents. There are beautifully written cards. There are treats and surprises and friends and family and calls and text messages and the whole day is MINE. I expect to be spoiled and loved and live at the centre of everyone’s attention until the very last minute my head hits the pillow at night and I can’t possibly stay awake for a second longer.
Because, really, that’s the way birthdays should be. Everyone needs a day to feel special. Everyone needs to be reminded of how important they are. Everyone needs to get a teensy bit spoiled.
However, this year is different.
Because for the first time in my life, I’m a mum on my birthday, and I have come to see things from a very different perspective.
Suddenly, it’s not just about me; there is someone else in the picture who is part of this day more than I am.
Because now I realize. The day your child is born, it’s not just about the first breath they take, the first second they open their eyes, the first moment their life begins.
The day is about the woman who gave them this life. It’s the long, agonizing hours she laboured for. It’s the 9 months of excited expectation, the 9 months of clothes buying and name planning and dreaming about who this little life will come to be. It’s the moment of overwhelming happiness when she takes you into her arms for the very first time. It’s the look she gives her husband when she can’t quite believe that you are theirs. It’s the day her life changes forever; the day her heart bursts right open and will forever be inside yours.
So, today, while I won’t say no to a treasure hunt or two, I’m really celebrating my Mum. I’m appreciating for the very first time the joy this day gave her at 8:15 am 28 years ago.
This is the day I will thank her for not getting too angry with me when I, at the age of 8, called the fire brigade, told them my house was on fire and snickered at my practical joke expertise when they sent out 3 fire trucks to an address I made up. I was NOT to know that telling them my real name was a mistake. I was NOT to know that when the fire trucks arrived at the fake burning down house, there were 2 kids playing on the street who just HAPPENED to know me and who just HAPPENED to say, “Yes Mr Fireman I know a Rachel Wiley. She lives next door to me. I can give you her address if you want?” Honestly, what are the chances?
This is the day I will appreciate her discretion at seeing on the front page of the newspaper that 2 children had set off some chlorine bombs in the local park who looked SUSPICIOUSLY like her own children, yet believing us when we told her we were just out *going for a walk* and so, No Mum, it couldn’t possibly have been us.
This is the day I will admire her for putting up with a teenager who checked herself into boarding school after learning that her family was moving interstate INCLUDING HER. Mum’s patience and wisdom cannot be understated, because by not saying anything, she knew that I would come around to the idea in my own time. She knew me, and she knew that the novelty would ware off pretty quickly. (For the record, boarding school is not all it cracked up to be. After a week, I checked myself out, called my parents to come and pick me up, and when they arrived, they silently picked up my bags, put them in the boot and knew better than to ever speak of the incident again.)
So Mum, Happy Birthday. Thank you for giving me a life and putting up with my me-ness and loving me all the same.