On Our Kids' Birthdays, We Should Really Be Celebrating Ourselves

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Why Kids' Birthdays Should Celebrate the ParentsSouth_agency - Getty Images

Our oldest turned 8 last month. According to my calculations, I've lived through two high schools worth of time with a little human. More impressively, we are both still alive.

When I celebrate my daughter's birthday, I do all of the obligatory mom stuff. Balloons. Cake. Party Hats. But in my head, I am celebrating myself.

I’ll say,, "Remember when the child who shall remain anonymous fell crotch first onto the metal bleachers and refused to pee for 36 hours?" My eyes widen and I'll inhale deeply, remembering. "And you convinced her to pee by putting her in a tub with red food coloring telling her she could change the bath water orange if she peed?" I'll nod again. "Albert Einstein level of brilliance!"

Since no one else has the common sense to celebrate me, I envision myself standing behind a podium, addressing an audience of one: myself. (I am the only person in attendance because everyone else is watching my daughter blow out the candles on her cake.)

You kept this child alive for another 365 days. The days were long, and, let’s be honest, so was the year. You applied more hydrocortisone to bug bites than any human in history. You patiently handed out an endless supply of ice packs for grievous “injuries”. You took the roller coaster ride of her emotions, while trying not to lose your own sh*t. This year, you learned that homework is far more annoying for parents than it is for students. For 365 nights in a row, your child told you she couldn’t fall asleep. And each of those 365 nights, she fell asleep. And if that isn’t Medal of Honor worthy, I don’t know what is.

Then, in my head, I turn to address my daughter, who is finally sitting in the back, eating a piece of cake.

You yelled my name 1.2 billion times this year, a new record. And in this past year, you reminded me, my sweet girl, that I’m a mean mom, that every dinner I make is gross, and that I smell like lunchables. And still, through it all, I loved you, every single day. I think you loved me most of those days.

She’s ignoring me, so I switch the focus back to the person we really should be celebrating: myself. The speech turns into an America-Ferrera-like Barbie monologue, with both me on the podium and me in the audience getting teary-eyed. Daughter continues eating her cake, bored out of her mind. She’s Ken in this scenario.

You locked yourself into your room on multiple accounts, to escape the tirade of a hangry child. But every single time, you came out, and eventually, after she ate a snack, you gave her a hug and apologized (even though it was her fault).

You got up early to pack her lunch so she could avoid the cafeteria sloppy joes. You let her watch Lion Guard on the big TV when you really wanted to watch Real Housewives instead. You picked up the toys she promised she would pick up, because you didn’t have it in you to begin another argument. You cleaned curdled milk vomit out of the crevices of the airplane seats with your bare hands. And if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

You gave her another hug when you didn’t think you could handle any more human contact. When she yelled, “I’m feeling overwhelmed,” you yelled, “Well I’m overwhelmed too!” Which may not be a prime example of positive parenting, but it was good enough.

And maybe that’s just it. Most parts of parenthood are overwhelming. You’ve sacrificed your free time, your emotions, your sanity, and possibly your body for a little human. And because of you, they are, well, perfect. Or, depending on the day, good enough.

So happy birthday, kid, and congrats on living a dream life with me as your mother. But mostly happy birthing day to me, and congrats to me on making it through another year.

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