Birthdays are for kids

10 Jan

I feel about my birthday the way I feel about my weight…the less I think about it the better I feel. Turning 36 feels like a milestone because I am now officially on my way to 40. My distress at turning 36 has nothing to do with vanity (well, not much). It has to do with what I thought I would have achieved by this age that I haven’t.

I thought I would have published several books by now. I thought we’d be in a better financial position. I thought I’d have figured out the key to happiness by now. I thought I’d be dressing better, thinking better and coping better. Instead, I still feel like I am making it all up as I go along. I have goals for myself, my husband and my children but I don’t have any aggressive strategy. I just try to nudge us towards the outcome. I’m more passive than I thought I would be. I don’t like how I let some people treat me, I hate how easily I can become upset and I long for a life I’m not sure I’ll ever get to live.

I don’t want to ‘celebrate’ my birthday this year. I didn’t want to celebrate it last year either but my mum insisted on Sunday lunch. The double standard is clear to me because I am usually the one coordinating the birthday gatherings. When I tell my family I don’t really want to do anything I think they think I am testing them but I really don’t want to. I prefer to mark it privately. I’d like some time alone to reflect. I’d like to leave my children at home with my husband and take a solitary walk along the beach and just consider my life, my choices and my goals. I’d like to eat a leisurely breakfast at a cafe while watching the ocean. In short, for my birthday, I want some guilt-free time to myself to enjoy the bliss of doing nothing (thanks Eat Pray Love). I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do.

When you have children you can’t ignore your birthday. For them, birthdays are joyous. Birthdays are about cake, balloons and fun. Birthdays are a blast when you are a kid. But they are a blast because I do a  lot of work in the lead up to ensure the fantasy birthday is fulfilled. So is it so shocking that for my birthday I’d like to sit and do nothing?

My friend is turning 30 on my birthday and has planned a huge celebration. I plan to share in her joy, eat her cake, give her an amazing gift and when she blows out her candles I will make som secret birthday wishes for myself. I wish to be better at everything. I wish for my family and friends to be happy and safe. And I wish for that four-slice red toaster my brother is planning to buy me. I didn’t say no gifts!

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi


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