I cannot claim to be much of anything, but if I were able to award myself a title, it has to be, Birthday party mother of the year. I am only remembering this tonight as my son, who has his very special day of being born today, is far away, out of reach and saving the Rhinos, a cause for which I applaud him no matter how I worry for his safety. Not being able to wake him on this special day, suddenly brought up all the memories.
We are good at that, aren’t we? The memory bank thing. And birthdays in particular is a time to delve.
For me, birthdays is a time to actually show someone how much you love them. How much you care. As any mother would do, planning was important leading up to the day. The day, for precious was turning one. Precious would have no recollection but I have the pictures. And so with every year, the celebration was a celebration of that munchkin who rocks my world.
Little boys in particular were tricky birthday subjects. They wanted a toy gun, I didn’t want to give it to them. Computer games I thought awful, we argued. They wanted batman capes, and Supermen outfits and I obliged. All the friends, even the ones who snubbed him with an invitation to their parties, and I secretly loathed their actions, were invited. But no, to ask one sibling and not the other, to hurt feelings and leave someone out … this is real time stuff and so important!
Let us just keep this between us, but my children’s birthdays meant following the recipe for seventy cupcakes – it was hard work! The thought of not inviting everyone, siblings and all, parents and all … cousins, teachers you name it, the thought of not inviting meant inviting and so birthdays in my family were celebrations which could safely have invited the entire town. And I do not regret ever having left someone out. I was never going to have that happen to another child.
Birthday cakes are significant to the years of growth. We started with the Gummy bears, then the Postman Pat cake, the Cowboys and Indians cake … the Under the Sea cake until we reached the stage of … mom I don’t want a cake, cakeless cake. And the games. Never one for just the coming to the birthday, it was an itinerary of note – treasure hunting, apple bobbing, masquerades, mock battles, twenty questions, watermelon carving and even, yup, kiss in the dark.
Running around the garden in search of treasures grew into the Pirate phase, the swimming pool phase and eventually the barbecue phase. Movie outings turned to camping overnight in the garden to … I’m to old for this and going to hang out with my friends scenario. Gutted with the growing up and ‘dancing party in the garage’ party but still … it was the morning of the big day.
The morning of the big day meant waking up to know … I am a year older and presents. Long and hard thought of presents from Duplo to Lego to … Playstation 4. Was it then when it all changed?
I wrote my son a letter on his 18th birthday. And on his 21st. I have them still. The life lessons I put into those epistles, the advice, the wishes … I have them still. One day he may read them without the urgency of youth, of wanting to grow up too soon and perhaps, when he has a little tyke who cannot wait to be that one year older.
And today he is out there being a man. A great man and one I am proud of. But I do miss the icing of the cake the night before, the wrapping of the presents so carefully considered. The invitations, the blowing of the candles, the hug at the end of the day, tired and happy. And feeling so big at ten years old.
I will nod the cap and say, I did good. Each birthday was magnificent. Each event was an honour of your life. The cakes may have been a bit wobbly, the icing too robust in the blue and green and the chocolate fingers slid in the heat, but the purpose was true.
I celebrated my children’s birthdays as if they were the most important occasions in the entire world. For me, they were …
Tonight I celebrate your birthday. I have the candles but not the cake. I have the same love I had for all these years and I hope you never tire of your old mum, wanting one more picture of you as you celebrate another year – another moment of me being the person I was destined to be. Your mother …