cake, Canon Rebel Xti
I turn 36 tomorrow. I am particularly fond of this number because it is divisible by nine, adds up to nine, and my birthday is on the ninth. My affinity for nine began when I turned nine years old, had nine teeth missing and the numbers on my address (252) added up to nine.
One thing hasn’t changed since then. Having a birthday can be a bit, let’s say, charged…Back then it was about getting the right present (how much do they love me?) did everyone remember? (who really loves me?) and who will come to my party? (do they really really love me?) Usually it worked out alright but it’s interesting to notice that somehow my birthday became a big who-loves-me test. If they only knew that magic set was a deal breaker!
In an effort to break through this wounded little bit, I try to remind myself to ask for what I want out of my birthday and not test the loved ones around me. If I want a cake, I am sure to ask someone to bring one (or pick it out myself) If I want a party, I don’t wait for others to organize. I do like it when Matt writes the invitation so I always request that.
I can also take this to the extreme.
For Mother’s Day this year, I told Matt exactly what I wanted. It was a pretty bracelet from a jeweler in nyc. I dropped little hints throughout the month, hoping he wouldn’t forget. A week or so before the big day though, Matt said to me, “Oh yeah… I’ve got to get you something for Mother’s Day.” Something clicked in me and I went into survival mode. I ordered the bracelet myself when he went to work. About an hour later I got a call from Matt.
Matt: Did you order that bracelet yourself?
Me: (embarrassed) Umm…. yeah?
Matt: I just called to order it for you and they told me that the same bracelet was already going to the same address! I cancelled your order and bought it on my own card. Did you not even trust me to get you your Mother’s Day gift?!
Me: I guess not…
Matt: That’s so sad.
What I realized was that I wanted to protect myself. I couldn’t bear the possibility of him forgetting… and I figured if I bought it myself I wouldn’t have to endure any disappointment. (We don’t have to go into the psychoanalysis here to know that this is my old stuff creeping up) But I missed out on the delight of receiving and didn’t create any space for Matt to give… I took the pleasure out of the gift-giving that year for us both!
This year I am trying to stand in balance between these two forces. Taking care of myself, yes, and also letting people give to me and surprise me.
I did order a beautiful cake today though. And I only felt a little bit funny when I said, “You can write on it, Happy Birthday Andrea.“