Birthdays are hard once separated or divorced. It can feel just like any other day and not special at all. Especially if you have young children.
There’s no one there to take your children to get you a gift, card and cake. Or to make sure it’s wrapped and a surprise. Or to organise waking the kids up and burst in together shouting ‘happy birthday!’ with hopefully coffee too! Or to light the candles on the cake and walk in singing with the kids. It all falls on you. I used to feel quite resentful about it all.
My children are still too young to realise it’s my birthday soon. And I’ve caught myself before thinking is it worth the hassle to ask their Dad, to make sure he takes them to get me something? Or trying to ask a friend to, if he can’t or won’t? I’m terrible at asking for help! I find it such a vulnerable thing to do, so I have to dig deep. It feels contrived and ridiculous sometimes. I have to remind the kids the night before that it’s my birthday tomorrow. I have to tell them where the wrapping paper is etc. And if you like surprises it can take time to teach them to hide the gifts and not wander about once home with an open shopping bag!
But when I make the effort to arrange for them to buy me something, I can see how excited they are to watch me open what they’ve chosen. I may have to help them light the candles on a cake I’ve chosen. But they love singing to me, and of course helping to blow the candles out! We’re making memories.
I also always plan something special for breakfast and make sure we either eat out that night or I order in pizza. It’s my day and I shouldn’t have to cook! But I admit I feel guilty and like I’m wasting money. There is a lot of cajoling with a pre teen too. But I stand my ground and insist I deserve a night off. Once we’re in the restaurant and their gadgets are down it’s so nice. And it’s important to be kind to yourself, lone parenting is so hard. We all deserve to carve out time on our birthdays for us. No clubs, no chores, the washing up can wait. Cancel everything for that one night. Have fun instead.
Maybe your ex wasn’t great at arranging anything for your birthday anyway? Even better. As you can stage manage your day and make it how you want it to be and why not? It may all feel a lot of effort. You may think what’s the point? But you’re teaching your kids that you deserve a special day too. That your birthday matters. I refuse to be a victim of my circumstances anymore. And every year as my kids get older, they now start to look forward to my birthday too. They love our little traditions. And I hope I’ll have created lasting habits so that they’ll spoil their loved ones too once they grow up. Besides, I’m worth celebrating! And you are too. So next birthday, don’t be shy. Reach out. I bet a friend would love to help your kids get you a present. You’re worth it.
Read more posts from Kathy here