Today is my birthday. (Thank you, thank you.)  I am 41 years old today. (You’re right! I DO look great for my age, don’t I?)
 
When I was younger, to say that I looked forward to my birthday was an understatement.  It was better than Christmas.  A day that focused totally on me and I got presents? Hell yeah.  I was the kid who gave calendars for Christmas gifts with my birthday highlighted on them.  You know, just in case my parents forgot when it was. Hey, it could happen.
 
My parents always did a wonderful job providing for me on my birthdays.  I had great parties and fantastic gifts.  But I also had the curse of high expectations.  No matter what kind of party I had, or who was invited, I always had something different pictured in my head. I blame movies.  In the movies there was always a surprise party or a fantastic fireworks display or possibly a rainbow spray of balloons at an exotic location with everything choreographed to music.   If I had a dollar for every “surprise face” I practiced in the mirror, I’d be pretty well off by now.
I'm smiling but thinking "Really? Only an elephant?" Photo credit: R. Nucci

I’m smiling but probably thinking “Really? Only an elephant?”
Photo credit: R. Nucci

With expectations like that, it’s no wonder that I was often disappointed on my big day.  When I was five, I remember being so mad that I ended up spending most of the party under my bed.  The problem?  My mom wouldn’t make the other moms go home and leave all 15 kids for my parents to take care of at the party! I wanted only kids at my party. Oh dear.  Do you get a sense of what my parents were dealing with? 

My expectations only became grander as I got older. When I was in college, my birthday always fell during spring break, so of course I had to take a trip, right?  That’s exactly what I convinced my parents and it worked pretty well for me.  I was in for quite a rude awakening after college when the trips ended. Later, in my thirties, I decided to stop waiting for someone else to throw me a party–I started throwing them for myself.   The funny thing is, even I could not live up to my own expectations!   

This here? This is mine. Photo credit R. Nucci

This here?  This is mine.
Photo credit: R. Nucci

Now, time has turned the tables on me.  I no longer expect parties and lavish gifts on my birthday.  I don’t need them.  I have the most amazing almost 5-year old on my hands.  My girl gave me a sleepy hug this morning and wished me a happy birthday.  It was the best gift I could ever wish for. 

Her birthday is in May.  She is definitely a chip off the old block when it comes to birthdays. She is already talking about what she wants to do (bounce house party), who she wants to invite (everyone from preschool and every waitress we meet), and what she wants us to give her (American Girl Doll and a guitar!).  As a parent, I want to give her everything she wants.  I want her to have not only “things” but amazing memories of her birthdays.  I know I’ll be the mom who stays up until 1 in the morning the night before her birthday, working on frosting her cake to make it as amazing as she pictured it in her head and finalizing the details of her perfect party.  And that’s just the way I like it.

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