It’s My Birthday and I’ll Tell You about It If I Want to


June was my birthday month, and though birthdays have never been a huge deal in my family, we have always taken the time to make each person feel special on their day. This year I turned 22, so cue Taylor Swift, please. I started telling people that I was 22 for a couple of weeks before, and I was ready for it to become more official.

I also started reading Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please.” It actually only took me a few days, and I finished it, but that’s not the point.

The point is that in “Yes Please” Poehler writes a chapter entitled “The Day I Was Born.” In this chapter Poehler recounts every detail that she, her mom, and her dad could draw to mind about the day of her birth. It creates a magical story. She also includes adorable photos of her mom holding her as a baby, and herself holding one of her boys as a baby. It is reason enough to read the book.

She starts the chapter off saying, “I remember many details about the days my sons came into the world but very little about my own birthday.”

I say if she remembers anything about her own birthday that’s incredible, because I surely do not remember a thing about my own.

And in the last paragraph of this chapter Poehler instructs her readers to find out about their own birth day. She tells us all to record it, and then she leaves the following pages blank for each of our stories.

Poehler’s exact words go as follows:

“If your parents are still alive, call them today and ask them to describe the day you were born. Write the details down here, on the following pages. Tell the story every year on your birthday until you know it by heart.”

Before Poehler shares the words of her parents, she first lets us know the details of the actual date on which she was born.

I know a little bit about my own birth date. For instance, I share it with Donald Duck, Mae Whitman, Natalie Portman, and Johnny Depp – though none of us were born in the same year.

In 1993, the year I was born, Bill Clinton was president. Sleepless in Seattle, Schindler’s List, and Mrs. Doubtfire were all the rage. Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” was topping the charts and Nirvana was up there too. It was the 90’s, and I’m sure people’s clothing choices were questionable.

I know I was born in the middle of the day. I know my dad wanted to name me Jacquie, but my mom won out with Anna. I also know my parents were young, hardly out of high school. I also know they kept busy for the next decade of their lives. They’re pretty incredible people, but to tell you the truth, I don’t know much else about my original birthday.

Maybe eventually I will take a leap and ask my parents about that original birthday. Poehler saw so many corresponding details, about how she entered this world and about how some of those characteristics are still with her today. I bet it’s the same for me. I bet there are pieces of me that have been with me from the very beginning and are still with me even now. I bet it’s true for all of us.

Our birthdays are special days, and we should know what happened on that day when we changed the lives of those who know us. We owe it ourselves and those around us to know the details.

Writer. Reader. Education Advocate. Lover of 80’s movies and Mindy Kaling. Working to give a voice to the voiceless and remembering there’s still a lot of work to be done in this world.