For a long time, when I blew out my candles on my birthday cake and made my birthday wish, it always had something to do with my well being. I wished for something tangible or something that could directly benefit me. But this year, with my family huddled around my cake singing, I was searching my brain for a new wish. Sure birthdays are about the people we have purchased those mall gift cards and who we’re singing (joyfully off key) ‘Happy Birthday’ to, but this year I started thinking, shouldn’t we acknowledge just who allowed us to be standing in front of another cake decorated as a pumpkin (as a Halloween baby, it is my curse to have pumpkin cakes seemingly for the rest of eternity)?
I know how I feel about my wife as a mother. She brought me my babies, my two girls. And as much as I celebrate their birthdays every year, I celebrate my wife along with them. So this year, I kept thinking its time to celebrate my mom. But what would be an appropriate way to say ‘thank you’ for thirty five years of service?
As far as I know, Hallmark hasn’t released anything that says, ‘Thanks for sharing your DNA with me and letting me use your womb for 9 months and for that extra two weeks at the end when I wasn’t ready to come out. You’re aces Ma.”
A gold watch may work for corporate America but somehow a Rolex doesn’t have the impact I’m looking for.
I want to tell her how thankful I am to have her as a mom. Not just for the whole ‘giving me life’ thing but for everything else too. How I never would have been able to finish getting my Cub Scouts badges had she not spent most of the night with me tying different types of knots and cooking pudding. How she made it easy for me to sleep when I was in the hospital because she was sleeping next to me on a cot. I want to tell her it wasn’t the chicken soup that made me feel better when I was sick; it was her holding me that did.
How she would eat cold dinners so we could eat hot ones. She made me eat my vegetables (although I don’t know how much I want to thank her for that one).
I want to somehow get across to her that I am thankful for her saying ‘no’ to me and set up limits in my life. I need for her to understand I know now why she was so vigilant about my safety.
She taught me to be true to myself and to be honest to those around me. She would remind me (constantly) there are rules in life and in her house…both of which I had better follow or else. She taught me to be considerate. Not to burn bridges even if you would be justified in napalming them. That being nice doesn’t cost anything.
As I got older she reminded me no matter how big I got, she could always stand on a chair to slap me upside my head. She never got mad if I tried my best and failed (however I had better try harder next time because she wouldn’t guarantee being so nice next time). She trusted me to make right decisions (which I didn’t do all the time) and she let me face the consequences of my actions after I didn’t make those right ones. Mom never hesitated to let me know if I were wrong but she wouldn’t let me walk away until she told me how to be right.
She made it known that there would be times when she may not be too happy with me or she may not like me all that much but I would never have to question whether or not she loved me (and I never did).
She did all of that and more and my mom did it without ever wanting anything from me in return.
So that is my dilemma this year. I want to let my mom know what she means to me even though it’s my birthday and the people gathered around the cake are singing for me. I just wish I could let her know that everything she did for me I am so thankful for. Then, as my family ends their singing with a jumble of “Happy Birthday dear DaddyJimmyUncleJimmy, Happy Birthday to you…” it hits me. This year when I blew out my candles, I made a wish, but this year, my wish wasn’t going to be for me. This year I had someone else in mind when I made my birthday wish.