Yes, I’m divorced on my birthday, but does that mean I can’t have fun?
Nothing sets us up more for disappointment as an adult than those glorious birthday celebrations of childhood! A typical birthday for me, as a kid, left me feeling nothing short of a celebrity, and I try to do the same for my kids. Whatever you want for breakfast, “it’s your day!” Whatever you want to do today, “it’s your day!”
I have a summer birthday, so I never got to take birthday treats to school; but, often a child’s birthday includes a party with classmates, a celebration with family, being sung to, presents, cake, and the whole she-bang!
Welcome to adulthood, and a birthday is either an unpleasant reminder of aging that we choose to ignore, or it’s a day that we’ve been conditioned to associate with red carpet treatment, that fizzles when it’s just another day to go to work, pay bills, and take out the trash. Some of us will still get star treatment from friends or family; but, for many of us, this personal holiday can feel even lonelier because it still feels like it should be special, but often comes and goes without much fanfare.
For those of us who are divorced, a red-letter day on our own personal calendar can become a whole new level deeper in disappointment because we may be left to celebrate alone.
I recall my first post-divorce birthday and the sound of crickets around me on a day when I anticipated the arrival of my special date. No one sang. No one said, “Happy Birthday!” No one presented me with a cake, a gift, or a card.
The emptiness of the day was sad, but I realized that if I had been married to my ex that day, I wouldn’t be able to expect any different! How many birthdays as a wife did I endure with the lump-in-throat realization that I was insignificant enough to forget? I spent more of my birthdays than I could count being ignored, forgotten, and dismissed even though I went out of my way to make my spouse feel special on his important days!
I concluded that it’s more hurtful and maddening to be left in the cold on one’s birthday when we’re in a relationship, and that person should care enough about us to make us feel special, but doesn’t! A spouse should take on the role of parents, grandparents, and others who used to mark the occasion for us. As adults, we may no longer be able to expect a piñata, bouncy house, or magician for our birthday, but everyone deserves just one day out of the year to feel special!
As a divorced woman, I no longer had an association with a partner who should make it his mission to show me love and appreciation on anniversaries, birthdays, Mother’s Day, and other holidays. As previously stated, that was not something that I was accustomed to during my marriage, but the fact that he was there made it more aggravating and painful to be ignored. If I had been single or divorced during those years, I would have had no reason to halfway expect someone to care!
My new divorced status took me some time to adjust to, but it became a realization that, as with so many other things, when we become adults, we become responsible for our own life! I could sit around and wait for someone to notice and take the time to acknowledge my birthday. I could choose to mope and be salty if I’m forgotten. Or, I could take the reins of my own happiness and do something about it!
How can we own our birthday after divorce?
What’s wrong with approaching a group of co-workers and saying “Hey, Thursday is my birthday, do you all want to go out for lunch?”
A friend of mine follows the German tradition of hosting her own birthday parties. Unlike most Americans who think someone else needs to put on a party for us, she prepares a spread of food, puts on some music, and opens some wine, then invites friends, family, and neighbors to have a fun evening in her honor!
What should stop you from treating yourself to that cute pair of earrings you saw in your favorite boutique?
Why not stop for ice cream or treat yourself to a delectable piece of cake from the bakery?
Why not take the day off work and decide from start to finish how to spend your day? Sip coffee on the patio with your favorite kind of bagel, sleep ‘til noon, go on a hike, go to a movie, or whatever you want!
How about using your birthday as an opportunity to raise money or bring awareness for a special cause?
One of the most important lessons to learn in life is that our happiness is not dependent on others! We should not wait for others to set the wheels in motion to be able to do what we want, nor let the fact that others may be busy, inconsiderate, or forgetful keep us from celebrating life!
And, what if we have no significant other when our birthday rolls around? Will we really let our unattached relationship status prevent us from enjoying life or having fun? Do life and our reasons for living need to disappear at divorce?
We have no guarantees that anyone else will make us a priority; therefore, we owe it to ourselves to make a priority out of recognizing and making merry, whether anyone else thinks to do so, cares enough to, or is even a part of our life! To be honest, no one is going to care as much about our birthday as us, so why leave it to others to make magic happen on or behalf?
Today is my birthday. I am equal parts hiding my head in the sand because I’m having a hard time swallowing the fact that I’m now 45, and simultaneously ready for fun and to do something special. My kids are with their dad this week, so it’s already not the ideal circumstances to celebrate, as I would like.
One thing we learn through divorce is to be flexible, otherwise, we’re miserable! For today, I am happy to accept a text from my kids, and when we have a chance to eat cake together we will! I’m grateful to receive greetings on social media and in person from friends and co-workers (even my dentist- lol!). The days are long gone when I expect to be treated like queen for a day, in the over-the-top fashion we tend to treat kids. Today, I will be my own kind of queen, and I will make sure it’s a happy day in my own way!