Saturday, 23 November 2013


Facebook has me feeling very popular.  I had many wonderful birthday wishes from a wide range of "friends" yesterday. I do realize that wishing someone "Happy Birthday" has been made very straight forward by Facebook and much more efficient through our new technologies.  I know its not a brown paper package all tied up with string, but it feels nice.  I feel like yesterday was one big cyber hug.

I have not, until now, caught on to the Facebook birthday system.  I fancy myself a "card person".  I have a dear Aunt with a unique ability to touch someone with a card beyond compare. I strive to emulate her. I spend  hours in card stores finding funny and touching cards specific to each person. I jump on them and store them away for that special person on their special day.  About 1 or 2 days too late, I start to search for that perfect card in my "card storage system", which looks like a fancy file cabinet. Sometimes I find the card and sometimes I even sign it.  Rarely does it actually get mailed and to tell you the truth, I am sure no one even knows that I fancy myself a card person, as they have never actually received a card from me.  My nieces and nephews know that "belated" to Auntie Jan(et) has no actual time frame.  The road to hell is paved with thoughtful, poignant, unsigned birthday cards.

My Facebook messages saw me reflecting on the number of different types of relationships we each have.
  We all wear so many name tags.  Yesterday, however, when looking at texts, emails and Facebook messages, it seems that over the course of 50 some years the number of hats has grown.  Though I tend to define myself as a wife and mother, I am reminded that I am a wife and mother but also a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a sister, a sister-in-law, an aunt, a great aunt, a Godmother, a niece, a cousin, an old friend, a new friend, a family friend, my kids' friends (Mama O), a colleague, a fellow blogger and even a Canadian mother to my 2 Japanese "daughters".  From now on, all my peeps will get a very touching, sentimental message from me on Facebook, but probably 1 day too late.

Birthday Girl, November 22, 1963
Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  It was also the 50th anniversary of my 2nd birthday.  While the "shot heard around the world" had my pregnant mother in tears, she was also trying to teach me how not to blow out candles.  The end of innocence experienced by so many was just the start of mine.

I have never been one to announce my birthday prior to its arrival.  I like to think I have low expectations. Of course, I like to have my cake and eat it too.  I also never balk at some chocolate or a warm pair of socks. I don't really like to be the centre of attention, but any rendition of Happy Birthday to You, even if I resemble a monkey, is always appreciated.  My mother used to call it "our 15 minutes".  I think Andy Warhol heard that and then went to town and took all the credit.

I am yet to find someone who feels as strongly as I do that a person's birthday is really all about the mother. I don't remember the day I was born, thank God.  However, my mother does.  She remembers my temporarily crippled, somewhat elderly grandfather taking her to the hospital and being mistaken for her husband.  I remember the days of each of my 3 children's births.  When their birthdays come, I am back
there again, in living colour.  I am again waiting for my turn in the operating room to have Kate plucked out. I am listening to the resolution of the Gulf War as we drive to the hospital to have Kevin.  I am hearing over the phone that  "you are probably not in labour so you might just settle in with a cup of tea".  Bridget was born 2 hours later.  All mothers have their stories and given a chance, we will tell them over and over again.  I remember how sweet they looked on the day they were born, no matter what their newborn photo looks like.  I truly believe that Katelyn was the most beautiful baby in the nursery.  I know everyone feels like this, but she really was.  Really.  She was.  

Now it does not really follow any sense of logic, that the one person who worked so hard to bring these children into this world (yes Derek, the one person)  should be the one in charge of the birthday celebration each year.  Isn't that day supposed to be about me???  I maintain that I would rather give birth than give a birthday party.  Why am I hanging up the f-$%#@-ing pinata?  Where is MY Loot Bag?

Our kids' birthdays seemed to stretch for more than the constitutionally
guaranteed 15 minutes.  The birthday party itself lasts 2 hours (and not one second more). It starts off lovely, with crafts and games.  They are colouring their loot bags and there is boppie music on the tape player and we are walking around chairs.  Kids are dressed up and look so sweet.  Balloons and streamers are hanging.  There is some sort of a meal that includes hot dogs sliced in half and licorice used as straws in chocolate milk.  Cake comes, everyone sings and things begin  to slide.  Someone is allergic to "blue food".  Someone "only wants icing".  Party dresses are no longer
recognizable.  Some kid slaps Derek on the butt (true story).  When present time comes, it all goes to Hell in a Handbasket. Birthday child and the whole lot turn into loud-mouth, self-absorbed little pukes.   "But Mommy I hate Barbie.  I like Skipper".  "Why would someone give me a Pink Power Ranger when I am a boy?"."Which present do you really like the best?"  By 90 minutes we start to pace.  The fake voice was slipping.  Mommy Dearest is emerging. I no longer care how much spit was on the cake, I am scarfing it down and chasing it with wine. who cares if it is not yet noon.   At 2 hours, good parents arrive on the
dot.  Some lollygag and show up late.  Their kids are in the driveway holding their loot bags and their boots.

We had neighbours who had 6 children.  I think a few of the babies were conceived while we waited for mom and dad to pick up their kids.
Kevin's 15 Minutes
So in keeping with my "birthdays should be about the mother" I invited my mother to take me out for dinner
Pierrette and me
last night.  It was a lovely evening at a small restaurant just a short freezing 10 minute walk up Yonge Street.  We shared salad and ate like the carnivores we are.  I told my mother I was going to take our picture. I told her I can take a "selfie" (as Bridget calls it) on my iphone. I told her that it didn't matter that her face was still puffy from her dental work.  I told her I had a new philosophy about picture taking.  I read a blog post that transformed the way I feel about having my photo taken.  The link is here, but just to sum it up, we need to allow ourselves to be photographed no matter what.

I had breakfast with the 3 sticky kids today downtown on Saturday morning.  They were all bright eyed and bushy tailed.  They took turns sharing the stories of their weeks.  Ok, they did not take turns.  They filled me in just as they have for the past 20 years.  With lots of  loud chatter and laughing and eye-rolling.  That's what families do. So now, in order to have a record of this event for history (and to send it to Derek in Barbados}, I have decided to turn the camera around. Apparently no one cares if we have gained weight.  They don't want us to "wait until next year, when I look better".  We have to stop jumping at the chance to be the photographer.  We need to just feel blessed that we are still in the family photo.

Kevin, Kate, Bridget and "Birth Giver"
How do you feel about being photographed??  Let me know.

I absolutely love this and I suggest you take a moment and read it!

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