Every five or six years, my birthday falls on Mother’s Day. I was actually born on Friday, May 12, 1972, and back in those days — just after the invention of the light bulb but before epidurals became common practice — hospitals kept patients longer than a minute, so my mom was still in the hospital on Mother’s Day.
When this phenomenon happens, we’ll do the Mother’s Day thing and my birthday thing just with my parents and brother, and I’ll do any other birthday celebrating — as in the imbibing of beverages with friends — on another day. If I had had kids, I suppose I would know how those with birthdays on Christmas feel, but as it stands, the dog and the cat can’t shower me with Mother’s Day fabulousness, so all that goes to my mom.
She deserves it all because while growing up, Mom actually cooked a lot of her own Mother’s Day dinners. Then when my brother (almost two years younger than I) graduated from high school, she all but announced she was done cooking nightly dinners and every Sunday. A common statement of hers this time of year is, “Do y’all want to come over for dinner Sunday? I figure I need to cook one more time before it gets too hot.”
I don’t mind sharing my birthday because I have a close relationship with my mom (or at least until she reads that previous paragraph). Yes, we have had our arguments. Yes, she has called me by my full name (as a kid). You won’t find a mother-daughter duo who has not experienced troubled times, but for us those times have been few and far between.
I’ve been lucky in that respect. Before everyone had work email, I called Mom almost every night — so often, in fact, when The Husband and I first started dating and I told him I was calling my mom, he asked, “What’s wrong?”
I hate to see friends who don’t have close relationships with their parents — mother or father. These two people are responsible for bringing a life into this world, and for some reason, whether it’s in or out of their control, they’re unable to nurture this life to its full potential.
However, the parent-child relationship works both ways, and I have known some people and situations where the strained parent-child dynamic got there from both sides. (I’d like to stress that I am saying “some,” thereby NOT generalizing!) Some children accuse their parents of expecting too much, but other children do the same to their parents. When I say “children” here, I mean adult children — the ones who should be capable of recognizing that their parents are human beings and make mistakes.
That realization doesn’t hit everyone at the same age, but one day you do realize that your parents are not perfect, and you know what? That’s not the end of the world.
Well, not always, I suppose. We all know too well of instances where the parents are serious contenders for Worst Parent Ever. There will always be relationships that are beyond repair — the addicts who won’t get help, the criminals who continue to break the law, the selfish who never compromise with loved ones.
Every relationship has to have that compromise — that give and take — and every relationship has one who’s more of the giver than the taker. In families, especially mine, the givers have been my parents, and in recognition of their sacrifices, in celebration of their unconditional love, I don’t mind letting Mother’s Day overshadow my birthday.
One day, hopefully multiple decades from now, my birthday falling on Mother’s Day will become a bittersweet combination, so my plans are to see Mom today.
And we are making my brother cook Sunday dinner for us.