Today’s my birthday. For me, it’s usually a time of feeling a special, magical excitement. All through the years of my life, I have been surrounded by many people who have loved me and loved celebrating the day with me. So many birthdays have come with multiple parties, multiple cakes, a variety of presents, a day of phone calls from those dear to me, and a slew of birthday cards to greet me when I went to the mailbox.
But this one feels different. I can’t really describe it, but it just feels… blah. No magic. No excitement.
Maybe it’s just due to the fact that I’m turning 42. Nothing real special about 42. Maybe it’s because it’s on a Wednesday. The lackluster, middle-of-the-week day. Maybe it’s due to the pandemic and not getting to make plans to go out for a juicy steak dinner. Could be any of those or some combination of them.
However, I think the root cause for my apathy is my separation from my mother. You see, growing up adopted, I was always separated from her. The only birthday we ever spent together was my birth day. But every birthday as long as I can remember, I was always thinking about her. Mixed with all of the excitement was also a longing to know her and celebrate with her. I wondered if she ever thought about me and if she did – of any day through the whole year – certainly my birthday had to be the day. Feeling that she was thinking of me brought me both comfort and pain simultaneously.
When we reunited over a decade ago, i was so happy to learn that she in fact was always thinking of me on my birthday. But again, simultaneously sad because I empathized with the pain she felt that day as well since we couldn’t be together. I looked forward to the day we would get to celebrate together. Not just my birthday, but hers, too! Our birthdays are a mere 5 days apart. That day would never come though.
Recent times have brought strain in my relationship with my mother. My trauma, her trauma, and a host of other variables have made it difficult and ultimately destructive. The wounds have created a divide too wide to bridge without substantial amounts of acknowledgement and healing that seem elusive at the moment.
So this is the first birthday without her. Is she thinking about me? Maybe. Am I thinking about her? Obviously. But my fairytale thoughts of her have been replaced with reality. Instead of the excitement and anticipation of one day celebrating together, I have resigned myself to the certainty that my birthday will forevermore be motherless.