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Mom’s birthday matters, too. (Sunday Morning Coffee)

by Sarah Powers on February 16, 2014

Hi everyone! Sarah here, stepping in for Meagan in the Sunday morning spot. Every Sunday we share a moment from our week and a few thoughts on motherhood or life in general. We call it Sunday Morning Tea – except when I’m writing, when it’s coffee. :)

Photo Feb 12, 8 36 22 PM
I turned 34 on Friday. I had a fantastic birthday – in fact, I had a really fun week that included a few different celebrations. I opened gifts I truly love, I spent time with my family, my kids, and my girlfriends. And tonight, the birthday week will wrap up with a belated Valentine/birthday date out with my husband.

And do you know what? It was by design.

Yep. This year, I took charge of my birthday and made it awesome.

I don’t usually get that worked up about my birthday one way or another. I don’t bemoan the whole aging thing, nor do I typically make big plans to live it up. Being a Valentine baby, I’ve always enjoyed the festivities (and chocolate!) that are guaranteed to accompany my birthday, but beyond the usual family dinner and well-wishes from friends, I’m pretty content letting the kids’ Valentine’s Day celebrations take center stage.

valentine table scene

Our Valentine’s Day breakfast scene this year.

But this year was different. It probably had something to do with the fact that on my birthday last year I had a brand new baby and couldn’t fathom the idea of going out – or even staying up one minute later than I absolutely had to. So about a month ago I decided that this year I wanted to celebrate; and I was going to put in the effort and make the plans to make it happen.

Maybe it sounds self-centered, or control-freakish, or like a total buzzkill to plan your own birthday – and maybe for some of you it would feel that way. But I know myself (which is one of the true gifts of adulthood, no?). And I knew that I’d feel more relaxed and celebratory – that I’d be happiest - if I took the lead on planning. 

Sarah with kids on birthday

Celebrating poolside with my kids last weekend.

So I emailed my girlfriends and arranged a night out. I coordinated with my mom and planned a joint birthday celebration with the family for me and my dad (whose birthday is about a week before mine). I arranged a babysitter for our date night. I even went so far as to drop some very specific hints to my husband about some little gifts I wanted.

And it worked! I looked forward to each of the celebrations I planned – much more so than I would have looked forward to a hush-hush surprise. My sweet husband – who is, it should be clearly stated, fully capable of planning and arranging a lovely birthday all by himself – didn’t have to ask for the sitter’s number or press me for gift ideas. I felt relaxed knowing what was coming: that there would be cupcakes from Sprinkles with my family last Sunday; that I’d clink glasses with my closest girlfriends on Wednesday night; and, despite the seemingly lucky draw of a birthday falling on a Friday, that by 8:00pm I would be in my pajamas with a great glass of red wine and watching an episode of Breaking Bad - because that’s exactly how I wanted to spend my birthday.

IMG_1370

My dad (turning 65) and me (turning 34) at our shared family birthday celebration last weekend.

It makes sense, really. In our house I’m the keeper of the calendar. I enjoy planning things, and I dislike surprises. And while some years I may be fine not making big birthday plans, or sitting back and letting Bryan and the kids surprise me, this year I felt like taking the lead.

As it turned out, all this was a great little mini-exercise in remembering to think about what I want, as hard that is to do in this phase of life I’m in. It was a reminder that I can apply that “plan and organize” part of my brain toward my own pursuits and enjoyment, not just toward playdates and work deadlines – and that when I do, I’m not only carving out time for myself, I’m also nurturing my family and my relationships by ensuring we take time for celebrations with, and for, one another.

And finally – maybe most importantly – I think it sent a message to my kids. My kids who LIVE for birthdays, who still think cheap plastic gift bag trinkets are amazing, who sing “Happy Birthday” at the top of their lungs and count the days until it’s their chance to make a wish and blow out the candles. I hope that by taking an active role in my own fun this year, I sent the message that birthdays are more than just a colorful show grownups put on for little kids; they’re everybody’s chance to feel celebrated – including mom’s.

red shoes with pink pants

Why yes, I did wear red shoes with hot pink pants on Friday.

Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us! If you’ve missed them, you can catch up on more Sunday Morning Tea – and Coffee! – posts right here.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Shannon February 16, 2014 at 9:26 am

I turned 34 on Saturday the 15th! I just missed being a Valentine’s baby by an hour and forty-four minutes. Regardless Valentine’s day has always been a part of the birthday celebration, I look at it like my birthday eve, kind of like Christmas Eve. I’m a nerd I know. This year’s birthday was pleasant because I got to take a nap, read a book mostly uninterrupted, eat pizza from my favorite pizza place, and take a hot shower uninterrupted. I know it sounds lame to most, but to a SAHM it felt really decadent. However, after reading your post, perhaps I should aim a little higher next year. :)

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Sarah Powers February 16, 2014 at 10:39 am

Oh fun! Happy birthday! I don’t think you “should” aim higher unless you want to. A nap, a book, and all that uninterrupted time sounds DIVINE. I hope you enjoy the rest of your birthday weekend!

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Miranda February 16, 2014 at 10:35 am

Love that you did this! I’m reading Happier at Home by Grethen Rubin, and she advocates actively figuring out (and implementing!) things that will make you happy. How cool that you have the self awareness to know what will make it a truly happy birthday. Good work!

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Sarah Powers February 16, 2014 at 10:40 am

Thank you, Miranda. That book is on my list to read, and I’m a fan of Gretchen and her work. Thanks for reading!

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Kat February 16, 2014 at 11:04 am

My birthday was yesterday (Feb. 15th), and I turned 35. My daughter is turning 3 on the 20th. We got a babysitter and went to Medieval Times for my birthday. I hollered and had a great time! It was so much easier just telling my husband what I wanted to do, and making it happen! Mom’s need birthdays, too! Thanks for the posting – I couldn’t agree more!

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Tragic Sandwich February 16, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I think that by the time we’re adults, we *ought* to plan our own celebrations! Not that there isn’t room for someone to surprise you, but certainly most of the time, we should be deciding how we want to celebrate, and making the arrangements that make that happen.

I don’t usually do much for my birthday (which was 10 days ago), and that’s been true since long before Baguette was born. For a number of years, I had “Ice Cream Dinner”–a triple-scoop sundae at Baskin Robbins. That fell by the wayside, but I have two friends with birthdays near mine, and now that we all live within 40 minutes of each other, we like to get together and celebrate together. Some years it’s a spa day or lunch out; this year it’s a potluck tea. We plan the activity based on schedules and budgets–one year all we did was have coffee at Panera–but the important thing is that the three of us get time together.

This year, Mr. Sandwich asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and I said, “Less stuff.” We’re still working on that (it’s going to take a while), but he did get me exactly the cake I wanted, from my favorite bakery.

It was a great day–and happy birthday to you, too!

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lynne February 16, 2014 at 3:30 pm

I love this post! This year for various reasons I couldn’t have the birthday I wanted on the day of my birthday. Instead, like you, I farmed our the various elements that were important to me and got them at different times (although the party was 2 months later and became a housewarming. But the point was getting friends together and in my house).

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