other people’s birthdays

My significant other recently celebrated his birthday. The only part of birthdays I truly love is cake, and I love making cake FOR people, so I made a cake. I also made dinner. It was a quiet, low-key kind of day, his choice, and I liked it. It also explains why he’s never encouraged me to get beyond my birthday dislike (which I appreciate more than there are words).

The original plan was to have his parents join us for dinner, but there was Winter Weather that precluded easy travel. Sitting and listening to him on the phone, I heard “yep. I know. You tell me every year.” Every year, his mom tells him how she thinks of other women due to make a mad dash for a hospital in January, with all the Winter Weather the month is prone to.

And I’m jealous. Every year his mother fondly remembers his birth, including the trials, and looks at where her child is today, now an adult. Every year, she tells him this.

My parents often told me of the giant party they were having when I was born, oblivious to my near existence. I’ve often heard the story of the call they received, the rush to outfit the nursery, how everyone in the department store helped them because their story was so lovely.

One time, I heard the story of how my first mother sent her father, the only person with her, home from the hospital because the nurses told her brusquely that “it’ll be hours, maybe days” before her labor produced a child — me. Once, she told me how quickly I came after that, late at night, while she was alone with a few distant and cold medical professionals around her. She told me her father, back the next day, sad that his daughter was alone during her labor, defended her right to make the choice to give me up for adoption when one of her sisters questioned it.

My story isn’t told fondly. It isn’t told with great love and celebration. It’s told with great pain and safe distance or with me barely in it at all. I won’t ask to hear it again, as it hurt her to tell it and it hurt me to hear it. I’m glad I know it. I didn’t know I felt incomplete without it until I asked.

I reminded my significant other not to take his story for granted, nor his mother’s fond memories. She won’t tell his story forever, but that she can and does is lovely and heartwarming, even if she’s been telling it for decades.

To know that you started out life loved and wanted and welcomed, right where you are? Who would not want that?

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