A gentle birthday reminder (orig. published on 1/27/12)
This is not a shameless request for birthday greetings. It really isn’t. It is to serve as a gentle reminder to myself, as well as anyone else who may need it, that even though “special days” come around every year, we still don’t have the license to think only of ourselves on those days. We are called, every day, to think about others.
This past Wednesday, it was my birthday. I was looking forward to taking the kids to the zoo during the day, and then a fun night out with my handsome husband, as he had planned a date for us.
But, first, let me mention that Abigail has a cold. And that on Tuesday night, Elijah was starting to act like he was getting sick as well. Those are important details to know.
So … Tuesday night, I was woken up once by Elijah as he showed up on my side of the bed, wanting to crawl in with us, and twice by Abigail. The next morning, I stumbled out of bed, feeling exhausted and headachy (I later realized I was coming down with the same cold my kids had), at 6:50 am, an abnormally early time for the kids to be up for the day. Happy Birthday to me, I grumbled internally. For the next two hours or so, I struggled with an intense internal battle. As I changed diapers, tried to get breakfast on the table, and dealt with each of my children, who were exceptionally whiny and/or needy, I thought things such as the following: “It is my birthday, for pete’s sake! What about me? I deserve to have a great day! What about me? Blah, blah, blah” … you get the picture and trust me, you really don’t want to hear anymore of what I was thinking.
By 8:30 am, I had cancelled our sitter for our evening date because I didn’t want to bring our sick kids into their house and expose their family to our colds. At 8:45 am, I called Shun-Luoi to let him know about canceling the sitter and we decided it was too cold and would be unwise to take the kids to the zoo … and then, as I sat there with the phone propped between my shoulder and my ear, with Abigail perched on my left hip, scrambling the eggs I was trying to make myself for breakfast, I started bawling. I couldn’t stop. Friends, when you cry by 8:45 am on your birthday, you know it just might be one of those days. My dear husband handled the tears well, although my son didn’t quite know what to do with me (“Momma, why are you sad?” he asked. Poor kid. That will be the first of many times he will see his mom cry).
But back to my internal battle. On the other side of the battle, I was reminded that I was not entitled to a great day just because it was my birthday. The world did not stop, my kids did not cease to need a mom, and I did not have a license for the day to be as selfish as I wanted to be just because it happened to be 34 years to the day after I was born . In fact, I was reminded of the passage in the Bible that says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians chapter 2, verses 3 & 4) What? I don’t get the day off from the call to put others ahead of myself? Shoot!
I don’t believe it’s wrong to hope that your birthday (or other occasions) will be a special and memorable one. But to believe that you’re entitled to it? I’m pretty sure that doesn’t jive with the above Bible verses because I happened to notice that there’s no “birthday clause” anywhere in there. And if you really want to be reminded that you can’t play the entitlement card, continue reading the passage – it talks about Jesus humbling himself to go the cross (taking on the “very nature as a servant” – Philippians chapter 2, verse 7) on our behalf. If I can read that and still think I’m entitled to the world stopping on my birthday, then I need to take some time to do intense heart/soul-searching. Seriously.
Despite the fact that I had to make a 2nd batch of scrambled eggs because the kids ate most of my first one and that I felt somewhat sick most of the day, there were some definite bright spots to my birthday. Calls from family and some dear friends, a lot of birthday love on Facebook, a short road trip with my family into the mountains, a birthday cake made by Shun-Luoi and Elijah (see picture below of me inhaling the chocolatey goodness), and some relaxing time with Shun-Luoi in the evening were all blessings to me. It was admittedly a hard day overall. However, I can now look back and laugh at the moment in tears by the stove and be thankful that yesterday and today are new days.
Maybe my birthday next year will be different. But maybe not. Either way, I will never forget the lesson I was challenged to embrace on January 25th of 2012.