I think there are two different types of people when it comes to birthdays: people who don’t get that excited about birthdays and people like me… I love a birthday! I think I probably get as excited about birthdays as most kids get about Christmas. I don’t just mean that I love my birthday, although I really do, but I also love other peoples’ birthdays too. I love the idea of making a day really special for someone and obviously love when other people make my day extra special.
One of the reasons I’m writing this post now is that it was my birthday recently and I had a bit of an epiphany… To explain that I need to start by telling you that my birthday is only five days before my eldest child’s birthday. Now that is kind of fun because we both get excited together and my daughter certainly shares my birthday excitement gene. However, the year she was born, I had a terrible fear all day that she was going to be born and we would have to…horror of horrors…share a birthday! I know that makes me sound really selfish but I knew that if that did happen, my birthday would never be ‘my special day’ again, it would (completely understandably) be all about her. Also, labour and delivering a baby do not sound like the sort of things anyone should have to endure on their birthday!
As it was, that year I spent most of the morning in hospital. I had a routine midwife appointment but because my blood pressure was a little high – mostly due to having to wait an hour past my appointment time and the fact I have ‘White Coat Hypertension’ so get stressed around doctors/nurses – they insisted the baby and I be monitored for an hour or two to make sure there wasn’t anything to worry about. There was also an intimation that, if my blood pressure didn’t lower I may need to be admitted. My rational brain should have said that it was best to be checked out and it’s only an hour or so. At 38 weeks pregnant, what I actually did was burst into tears in the hallway because I was having to spend my birthday hooked up to machines in a hospital. When I say tears I mean floods of tears. Actual sobbing. Thankfully my hubby was with me but I was so upset a nurse came to check I was ok. Anyway, all was well and baby stayed put for my birthday and arrived safely a mere five days later.
Every year after that, I have struggled a bit with my birthday. I have always had a lovely day but when you have kids, you can’t ask them to not need changed/fed for the day so you can relax and it is pointless asking them to sleep past 6.30am so you can have a lie in. So my birthdays have been nice and I am certainly grateful for all the kind wishes and gifts but they have never felt quite as ‘special’.
I love my kids to pieces but since they have been born my birthdays have always been a balancing act between me doing things I would like to do, and doing things to entertain the kids and keep them happy. For instance, my hubby and I would consider ourselves ‘foodies’ and we enjoy treating ourselves to nice meals every now and again. ‘Nice’ restaurants and babies/toddlers don’t mix that well I find. Meals with small kids are certainly not relaxing, that is for sure.
However, this year I had a bit of an epiphany. I found that when I stopped focusing on the things that used to make a birthday special and made it a fun day for the kids, everyone actually enjoyed themselves more. I opened my presents in bed and then we all went out for breakfast (French Toast with Nutella, yum!), then went to a wildlife park. It was a really hot day but we had a nice balance of doing a safari in the sun and then having some shade and we got to see lots of animals, including giraffes, lions, zebras, bison and – all the way from Scotland – a Highland cow! Everyone had a great day and we were suitably exhausted on the drive home. We perked up in time for birthday cake and hubby made dinner so I could sit and have cuddles with the kids.
It’s probably not what I would have picked for a birthday day out pre-kids, that would have involved a lot more nice food and a lot more prosecco, but it was a great day. The best thing was, the next day the kids were in preschool but hubby was still off work so we went out for lunch together. I got the nice meal, just a day late, and my birthday itself wasn’t spoiled by grumpy/bored kids fighting and making a mess. As it turns out, a family day of fun makes for a much more enjoyable day than forcing the kids to do something they don’t want to do. It seems so obvious now I’ve written it down… maybe I should have figured that out before now!
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