Cake Me:: My Husband Doesn’t Do Birthdays

I. Love. Birthdays. I love everything about them:: the hype, decorations, picking the theme, specialty cakes, the perfect venue. There’s a special sensation that jets up my spine when I’m around a celebration and I feel like a sugared-up version of Lorelai in Gilmore Girls, “I smell birthdays.”

Born to Celebrate

Cake Me:: My Husband Doesn’t Do BirthdaysI am by nature a fairly celebratory person. Whether it’s National Puppy Day or International Sushi Day, it doesn’t take much to convince me to throw on a party hat. But more specifically, I love my birthday. I have yet to find the age where I am embarrassed to sit with my dad and happily blow out candles. I love my free birthday Starbucks and 50% off Kendra Scott and all of the coupons to places I rarely frequent. Who cares! Bring on the discounts. Gifts are my love language and I will take it stranger from the bakery.

When asked, most of my favorite memories from growing up involve celebrations of some kind. We would never have been featured on MTV’s My Super Sweet 16, but we had our share of memorable moments. Having a summer birthday on top of butting up to July Fourth often left me in a predicament when it came to planning and attendees, but I never noticed. During my Nancy Drew fascination phase, mom planned an amateur sleuth birthday and hid all of my presents. My sister and I had to follow clues to find them. I’m sure she was relieved that this activity occupied the majority of the day, but I’m not sure she expected me to request a repeat performance the following year.

Our yard turned into a mini waterpark with slip-n-slides, sprinklers, and pools borrowed from neighbors. Trips to the Magic Time Machine or having a dance on the back patio replaced the bowling alley as I got older. I grew accustomed to my birthday being a big dang deal. But alas, to my annual dismay, I did not marry a man with my same love for glitter and noise-makers.

The Birthday Non-Celebrator

Cake Me:: My Husband Doesn’t Do BirthdaysMy husband has many talents—planning is not one of them. I don’t even leave subtle hints, telling him exactly what I’d like to do…no dice. I’ve filled out Amazon wish lists which sometimes help—if I sit with him and order—but for me, the exciting part is the festivities.

For my 30th birthday, I planned my own celebration, ordering custom cupcakes and bringing my crew down to Spaghetti Warehouse. I even moved the date so he could be there. He didn’t attend. {We weren’t married at the time, and work got in the way, but my feelings were no less hurt.}

When I turned 32, I asked my husband to whisk us away to a long weekend in Fredericksburg, staying at one of the adorable B&Bs. Remember what I said about a July Fourth birthday? Because procrastination is his Achilles’ heel, they were sold out. With my mom’s help, we were able to snag one of the last hotel rooms in town, but not at the quaint historic inn I had pictured. I picked myself up by my oversized sun hat and milked the German town for all its worth, but I couldn’t shake a feeling of dejection. Like I wasn’t worth some forethought—not worth celebrating.

Eat the Cake

Now, don’t get it twisted. My husband—for all of his talents and goodness—is an equal opportunity party pooper. While I had a grill shipped to his friend’s house and hid decorations in my office cube for weeks so I could plan a 40th surprise luau of epic proportions, he could have tossed the whole thing in a bonfire and been okay with it. To his credit, he does not demand what he is unprepared to provide. However, fast forward several years, and I would love to tell you there was a cosmic shift. A series of events that catapulted us into perfect synergy allowing us to papier-mâché unicorn piñatas in blissful harmony. But, sadly, that is not our story.

Last year I verbalized precisely what I wanted to do on my special day and then in exasperation, executed the plan. The year before I made my own dinner reservations. He has never refused to celebrate with me, he’s just not so great at the actual planning. We each have our own gifts, and I have had to accept after 12 years of birthdays, that my husband is not a party aficionado. 

Maybe it’s the stress of planning. Perhaps it’s that he doesn’t want to be the center of attention {I may own multiple tiaras}. It may stem from the fact that holidays and birthdays just weren’t a big deal when he was growing up. 

Does his lack of participation in birthdays slow down my month-long merriment? Eh, it puts a damper in it sometimes, but he knew I was more of a funfetti flavor when he married me. For the month of July, it’s a cocktail, firework, and cheers waiting to happen…and I’m there for every beaming moment. Eye roll securely in place, he’s along for the ride. Sure, I have to do my own research and maybe send out invites on his behalf, but I was raised with the secure knowledge that I am worthy of celebrating. And even if he does forget which restaurant is my favorite—he agrees.  

We never know how many trips around the sun we get in this life so when you earn one, raise a glass. Gather your favorite people together {when there isn’t a pandemic}, accept a few gifts, and have some laughs. Aging doesn’t stop my friends—eat the dang cake.


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