Being that my birthday is this month and I have seen so many other people sharing their birthdays for this month as well, I’ve been thinking about what birthdays mean to me and how they have had an impact on my life. I love birthdays! I enjoy the thought of celebrating a person on their day. The very special day of them being born and coming into this world to share their gifts with the rest of us. Unfortunately, some people are not the greatest to be celebrated but I do get great joy in celebrating wonderful people who contribute good things to this world and my life. Birthdays for me growing up were an event, not like huge party events but a celebration for the day. My mom made it a day of great celebration of me. My day! She did the same thing for my sisters and I took on her same enthusiasm when it came to birthdays.
I thought everyone loved birthdays.
The way my mom reacted toward birthdays was very unlike her, so I jumped on the celebrating with her. She recently shared with me that she did not have a script for birthdays so she made it up. I only once had a sleep over as a little child, when I was in 3rd grade. It was horrible. I was so embarrassed by my mother’s behavior, the neighborhood we lived in and the generic food we had in our cupboards. I was mostly embarrassed when my mother yelled at me in front of my friends about us “eating all the food in the house” and “being so loud the neighborhood could hear”. It was a birthday party, we were supposed to have food to feed 6 little 9-year-olds. I remember the girls asking me why my mom was so mean and the one question “Doesn’t she let you eat?”. I lost some friends after that party, I was already teetering on keeping friends because of my quirkiness but that was the final straw for some. I did manage to keep a couple but by the next year I had to gain a whole new set of friends.
Still I was not deterred by the birthday celebrating.
I did manage to talk my mom into letting me have another sleep over when I turned 14 years old. That one went exactly the same the way, only this time my mom had taken the doors off of the hinges to my room, so there was no privacy. My mom yelled at us to be quiet most of the evening, we opted to go to the basement and I got yelled at for us eating all the chips that we had purchased for the party. Um…They were for the party. I now understand the reasons for my mom behaving the way she did, a lot of it had to do with the stress of new people in her house, her routine being messed up, the noise and what felt like constant chaos. I didn’t know that then, I just felt hurt and embarrassed. But when it was just family or if my mom had planned a party with her friends for me she was fine. She was actually very happy if it was a party that she could do herself with adults.
I was ok with that because I did much better with adults anyway.
It caused me too much stress to try to figure out who were my friends. Both times I had my own party, I had one friend that I hung out with all the time. They were actually the ones who convinced me that I was supposed to have a sleep over, that’s what girls do. I would have that friend tell me who to invite because they were friends with them, that’s how I got people to come to my party because of my one friend. Even though I had those experiences, mostly I only have happy memories of my birthdays and the birthdays for everyone in my family. My dad’s side of the family made a big deal out of birthdays too. It wasn’t presents because we never really got a lot but it was the fact that it was a day to celebrate each other on “our” day.
My birthday has many significant things wrapped around it.
Maybe everyone made such a big deal out of my birthday because I was unexpected and almost aborted. My parents got pregnant while they were 16 years old. My dad was a star football player, wrestler and track star. He was considered the most popular guy in school. My mom had just moved to that school, she was originally from a different state all together. She was a loner. One day, one of the girls was pressuring my mom about dating and my mom got annoyed, thinking that she was playing it safe she told the girl that she liked my dad. My dad was dating the head cheerleader, my mom didn’t think he knew who she was or would ever know who she was. To her surprise the girl told my dad and lo and behold they ended up dating and surprise! My mom ended up pregnant.
My mom was so sick, confused and scared that she didn’t even know how to process the whole situation.
She told my grandmother and got beat up with a phone book. My mom was looking up pregnancy crisis or abortion, she just wasn’t sure what to do. My grandmother point-blank told my mom that she was getting an abortion, and my mother shut down. Now that we look back at it, this is one way that her Asperger’s affects her. She just shuts down when she is completely overloaded or unable to process, we both do this in certain situations. This particular shut down, she could not talk, eat, think nothing. She actually lost weight in her first trimester with me. When my dad found out he refused to have me aborted. At first when my grandfather asked mom what she wanted to do, my mom had no idea. The the night before the actual appointment for me to be aborted, my grandfather asked my mom “Is this what you really want to do?” and my mom said “no”. He went into the kitchen and told my grandmother, there was an intense argument then my grandfather came in and said “You don’t have to go.” Then came the part where he said he was not going to raise her baby or support her husband so something had to be done.
My dad said that he would do anything to make sure I was born.
His mother, who had her first child at the age of 15 years old and was on her 4th marriage with six children, asked him if it was really what he wanted. All he knew was that I was supposed to be born and he was to do right by me and my mother. He agreed to my grandfathers terms to marry my mom. He joined the Army and went in as a medic, after boot camp and training he was scheduled to go to Vietnam. Unfortunately, his older brother was killed in a car accident several weeks before I was born. My dad was devastated by that, then a few weeks later he was scheduled to leave. However, also during this time the Paris Peace Accords was finally signed and supposed to go into action. The war was supposed to stop and the troops were supposed to come home. My dad however, was still scheduled to leave but he had great favor and was allowed to stay since he was a medic, for my birth.
He got to be in the room during my birth also, when they still were not letting the dad’s in the room.
I decided to make my entry into this world at 11:59 pm, one minute before my actual due date. The family joke is that I just HAD to prove the doctor wrong. My birth was another event, because during that time parents having different type blood was still an issue. I had my dad’s which was A positive and my mom had O negative. They swept me away and were all concerned about me, my mom had to have a blood transfusion and I had severe jaundice. I spent my first few days in an incubator, my mom says that is probably why I love the sun so much. Since my dad got to stay for my birth, he actually got spared from being sent to Vietnam. My dad was instead stationed to Germany and 6 weeks later my mom and I joined him. I was a young international traveler.
For me, my birthday has so many things tied to it that at times I am not sure how to process it.
No one ever kept it from me that I was extremely close to being aborted. I had many years of questioning why parents had me. I seemed like such a burden to everyone and I just didn’t fit in so I questioned the purpose of my birth. I think about it at times and wonder why my dad felt such a burden to have me born. I kept the story light but my father fought hard for me to be born. He was tenacious and determined. After all that has taken place in my life, I really don’t know why. My dad was the one who baptized me when I became a Christian, he stood in front of the congregation and shared his story about me almost being aborted. He tearfully, almost sobbing shared what an amazing experience it was to share in my birth as a baby and to share in my re-birth. I had never seen my dad show emotion or even talk about the events of my birth like that.
I kind of tear up now as I write about it.
It is hard to image the never existence of me or the non-existence of this life I have with David and the kids. It’s hard to believe that in an instant or with the persistence of my grandma that I could not be here. I had issues with my grandparents for a while not understanding how they could love me if they never wanted me. I still have a hard time with that one but they ended up loving me and caring for me a lot. For me I love my birthday. I love getting older and I always have.
I love remembering my story.
It is the only thing I have that connects me and my parents together. I am the only child from both parents so I think my story helps me to remember a time that I have virtually no memory of, my parents being together with me. I was three and half when they divorced and my sisters are all half sisters. My dad and step mom have three girls together and my mom and her ex-husband had two girls together. I was 10 years old when my first sister was born. I always felt like I was outside looking in to both of their lives but when my sisters came I really felt like they had different lives and I fit no where. No one purposely made me feel that way, I just did.
I love that I am alive and get to share this enthusiasm with my kids.
Even in my hardest times, through some of my darkest days in life and feeling misunderstood by family, friends and people in general, I still was always able to celebrate my or other people’s birthday. Despite any negative I was going through, birthdays have been that one day that it was and is to celebrate life, in my mind. I do not feel the ache in my heart that I used to and I have a lot to celebrate these days. What’s in a birthday? The day we came alive, the day our uniqueness came into existence to share with this world. Our purpose to keep on growing and living and celebrating everything we have accomplished, along with all that is set before us to accomplish. Our birthday represents to me, a year past of things learned and looking to a new year to apply everything that we have learned. Also a new year of more things to learn and share with others. Life!
I say Happy Birthday to YOU whenever it is!