This year, Keith finally listened.
I arrived home on the 1st to a homemade sign rigged to raise with the garage door. “Happy Birthmonth” said the letters drawn by my kids.
When I entered the backdoor, they jumped up from behind furniture to surprise me and serenaded me with a slight change to the traditional song. “Happy birthmonth to you…”
It wasn't so much the surprise as the hilarity of the event that did it. I'd been driving for more than 3 hours on a giant coffee and weak bladder. While my kids rushed me their cards, I had to excuse myself for a little clean up clean up before returning to the party. Lucky for me, I was wearing crocs and a cotton dress, which made it easy.
The cards they made me. Bless their daddy. He must have told them all to say “one day is not enough,” but he refused to help them spell “enough.”
The kids were dying to show off their presents, which were in addition to the cards. They led me to their rooms and pointed out the cleanliness and general lack of clutter. The bedside, shelf, and table that seem to collect what I would deem as garbage were now all clean.
Then, drum roll for the best part. All beds were neatly made, even mine.
My kids. They know how to win me over.
I don’t know why I demand that birthdays are a big deal. I must have had some traumatic experience on a birthday, and this is the effect. Or, maybe that I have a summer birthday and never got a birthday pencil in school. Sniff. Until 8th grade when my English teacher Mrs. Suter made a list of all summer birthdays in May and gave all of us neglected kids our first birthday pencils. That was life changing. Thank you, Mrs. Suter.
The other morning, Keith was taking an extra long time in the bathroom. Then a few hours later, the phone rang. It was a girlfriend many states away calling to inform me that my surprise gift from Keith was a plane ticket to go visit her, which he purchased hours before while in the bathroom. Plus 4 days away from my kids, whom I adore.
That boy. He can’t keep a secret. Not when it comes to gifts for me. After the disaster year, my first birthday as a married woman…where he gave me a laundry basket full of his dirty clothes, all concealed under a black trash bag, he learned his lesson. Since then my birthdays have surpassed any expectation, which is typically low after having received basically a chore. “Here are my dirty underwear for you to wash. You’re welcome. Happy birthday.”
Am I crying or laughing over the laundry basket? And the other picture is proof that I received more than just laundry. Rubber gloves. As in, "Go do the dishes." Keith refers to this as my best birthday ever.
One year I received all my presents in March because that’s when he bought them. I got home from work one day to see him gushing with excitement and pride. He waited all of 5 minutes before asking if he could give me my birthday gifts. Three months early. I take what I can get.
This year, I didn't want much. I mean, since I had that surprise party 24 days early, a clean house, this trip, and a few unwrapped gifts from the kids the day they went shopping. No, I didn't want much.
I was going to ask for no arguing, but everyone beat me to it. I'd had a few things on my mental list, which included fixing the toilet paper holder in my bathroom. I've always thought a birthday is someone's day (or month) of the year to be selfish. "Stick to the list!" I used to tell Keith.
My MIL made one of my favorite cakes. And, naturally, I wept. That's like a love on a plate.
Of my girlfriends, there are 2 whose personality is identical to mine, so we have our moments. They're mostly good. It's funny that they gave me the same gift...a hodgepodge of necessities, including this gem:
As it turns out, letting people do what they want for you...even on your birthday...has its perks.