When I found out my first daughter, Ruby, was due at Christmastime, the logistics of her birthday were the last thing on my mind. I learned I was pregnant with her about a month-and-a-half after a 14-week loss, and the news sent me reeling. I was thrilled, of course, but also completely terrified. If I thought about the Christmas due date at all, it was bitterly and with extreme cynicism: “Well, with the pregnancy I lost, I was due on my birthday, so now when I lose this one, both my birthday and Christmas will be ruined. Fantastic!”
As the spring moved into summer and then fall, as my belly kept growing, as cynicism started to weaken and allow hope to take over, I did start to think about how a Christmas birthday would affect Ruby and did some research (as is my wont) to figure out how to make that birthday slightly less crappy: no combo presents, no birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper, no Christmas-themed birthday parties.
I did not stop to think about how her birthday would affect me, and so she was probably 4 before I realized how inconvenient it was, both from a financial standpoint and a calendar standpoint. Now that she’s 12, I am well-aware of it. Buying double presents in December isn’t great, no one is in town or free to attend a party, and I am running in circles trying to take care of teacher gifts and attend classroom parties and wrap presents and make cookies and coordinate family obligations and remember which day which kid needs an ugly Christmas sweater or festive pajamas.
I vowed that my next child would not be born near Christmas, and even though Georgia was a complete (happy!) surprise, she is not born any time near Christmas.
However. She is born at the end of May, which means that no one is in town or free to attend a party, and I am running in circles trying to take care of teacher gifts and attend classroom parties and make cookies and coordinate family obligations and remember which day which kid needs a bathing suit or a costume for the talent show. Also, Ruby is in final exams, so she has that stress to share with our family, which is just so generous of her.
And now that I work at a high school, this is one of my busier times at work, too, trying to help with graduation, finals, and prom and attending a flurry of celebratory events.
Maybe there is no good time to have a birthday. Mine is mid-September, which I always hated because the teacher would always get the birthday calendar done, like, the week after my birthday had passed. My husband is early March, so it often gets lost in the shuffle of Mardi Gras. My stepson is June, so no one is in town. Hurricane season is a terrible time, too, and that affects not only my birthday but also my mother, my mother-in-law and my father-in-law, and my father is another Christmas birthday, so he shares Ruby’s frustrations.
It doesn’t matter, as I’m not having any more kids, and even if I were, I gave up on the idea that I could really plan when they were born after my miscarriage. (It still kind of stings, even all these years later, when I hear young newlyweds chatting about how they are going to time their pregnancies just so. It’s not their fault, of course, for being innocent, but it stings anyway.)
But I guess if I could pick a perfect birthday it would be … mid-October, maybe? Before the frenzy of the holidays, but after the lull of the summer?
When’s your birthday? What do you hate (or love) about it?