I know, I know…I am not 38 – although I am sure I cried on 4.1.03 -, but when I googled “bad ass birthday image”, this came up…and I absolutely positively had to use it.
My 30th birthday. Otherwise known as the-first- documented-birthday-that-I-would-spend-crying, an activity which would continue, to varying degrees, for twenty years.
I was a new mom to Harrison who was, by all accounts a good baby. He ate and burped when he should, slept like a champ and generally led a very sweet life. I was living in a nice house with a good zip code (which actually mattered to me back then), was in an okay – just keepin’ it real – marriage, had two wonderful, healthy parents, awesome brothers and more friends than I could number. Yet, I spent the entirety of my 30th birthday crying. Like ugly, heaving, sobbing, iguana eyes crying. All day long. When asked, repeatedly, why I was so upset, I could not answer to anyone or, more to the point, myself.
Little did I know that I had just launched what would become a twenty-two year tradition.
Anyone who lived in Boston at the time will most definitely recall The April Fool’s Day Blizzard. It was damn ridiculous. And, just in case you were wondering, let me tell you what it was like in my house that day. It was a Tuesday and this full time working girl had, along with the rest of the folks at her office, been given a snow day. Of note, back then, when you were granted a snow day it was really a day off: no tele-or video-conferencing, no constant email checking…just a legit freebie day off. Woot woot, right? Yeah, not exactly.
I had a completely miserable, horrible, pray for death head cold and had not one appropriate drug in the house to treat it. Harrison, still on the tail end of his diaper days (yeah, my kids would still be in diapers if it was socially acceptable) was having some (gruesome, gross and frequent) digestive issues which, if not bad enough by itself, I – for the first and last time ever – ran out of diapers. Well, aside from snow plowing, husbands are generally good for going out in the storm to pick up essentials (ice cream counts) and my husband was no different. Butttt, before he could go, he had to fire up the ol’ snow blower to clear the driveway. It’s all fun and games until two of the tires Fall. Right. Off. But that’s okay – we didn’t have any gas, anyway.
So yes, I spent my 32nd birthday crying all day.
4.1.98, 4.1.99, 4.1.00…
No need for anything dramatic…just cried.
Lordy lordy looks who’s forty. Yes, I had a great party. And, yes, everyone that mattered to me was there. However, cancer had been running rough shod through my family – my father was dying, my father-in-law had recently died and I had just had my final reconstructive surgery from my own cancer. Great food, great friends…cried most of the day.
4.1.06, 4.1.07, 4.1.08…
Cried every year.
(Fun fact: a few weeks after my first birthday with Barry (what a mess), my ex-husband asked him if I’d cried. Barry asked why he hadn’t been warned. It was a test, I guess. Thankfully he passed.)
Best birthday ever.
A month ago, I put out a call to my village: Let’s try to collect 104 gift cards to be distributed to transgender kids who, for one reason or another (asshole parents comes to mind) are out there fending for themselves, trying to navigate a world that it just beginning to understand and accept who they are. I’d never really asked for a particular birthday gift before and, truthfully, it wasn’t even that I was suddenly wise enough to have made a conscious decision to take control or get ahead of the birthday cry…I just wanted to do something, anything, for these kids.
Well, the tally at close of business yesterday is 218 cards valued at $3,575 from 80 different families, in 16 states and the UK, 24 of whom I have never met and/or heard of,
I know that there are others en route to me.
And guess what…not a tear all day. Not one.
For years, my brother David has run a nonprofit organization called Big Sunday whose tagline is:
Absolutely EVERYONE has some way that they can help someone else.
Yes, indeed. But, and this is important, the feeling you will get helping someone else will lockdown your own happiness.
I want for nothing. I need not a single thing. I am ridiculously blessed. This was the best birthday gift ever.
This was a no-cry birthday. The love, support, kindness and final outcome of my little campaign is going to help change lives. It has certainly changed mine.
Thank you for your generosity.
Thank you for being in my life.
Thank you for supporting my kid.
And thank you for breaking my streak of tearful birthdays.
p.s. At the end of this week, the cards will be delivered to Boston GLASS and Bridge Over Troubled Waters wonderful organizations that serve kids who are not nearly as fortunate as yours and mine. If you still want to send a card, awesome. You can also donate or volunteer with them directly. ❤