There are two types of people in the world: those who love their birthday and those who would rather slam their fingers in the car door rather than celebrate it. I am in that last camp. It is not just my ageing years I am afraid of, although I do have unfinished breeding business and perhaps this subconsciously upsets me. Damn you, shrivelled eggs!
It is simply that birthdays make me anxious. I get nervous thinking about all that attention piled onto me and I get even more nervous wondering how to thank everyone and I start to fret at the thought of friends and family spending their money on me.
The only person who is expected to know I want a fuss made, even though I say I do not want a fuss made, is my long-suffering husband. Last year it all came to a head. I bought my own present, as I have done for decades. I said I don’t like birthdays – I did not say I do not like spending money.
So on my birthday, my husband simply asked where the gifts were I had bought myself. I threw him a look and off he marched, only to return home with a Betty Boop coffee cup. I am a mug snob and only drink out of fine bone china. Usually the cup is pale pink and covered in roses. So the bright red Made In China chunky coffee cup bursting with Betty Boop’s ample bosom was a frightful shock first thing in the morning.
The cup came to be a symbol of resentment over the next year.
Fast-forward to this year. I was still being ridiculous and not wanting a fuss. The day before my birthday, my little boy broke his arm and needed to be taken by ambulance to hospital because it was such a nasty break.
My friend, who is a doctor, happened to be with us and was a pillar of strength. My little guy was eventually released from hospital and was with me on my birthday. I have never been happier with a present than being able to hold his little body in my arms. Nothing reminds you how much you totally love your kids than when they are injured.
Now, this same doctor friend helps treat people who are fighting cancer. She very quietly said to me that she has treated many patients who are dying at age 25 and who would love to be my age (in their forties) and have three children to celebrate with.
Talk about gaining some perspective. I realised birthdays are a wondrous milestone. So, we did celebrate with both our families with champagne and croissants for breakfast and a swim at the beach. Perfection. And my husband is taking me away for a weekend – what a truly perfect gift of time. Next year I may even post the date on Facebook.