I don’t understand birthdays. I wish there was a universal way to celebrate birthdays that would take the guesswork out of everything.
I love celebrating other people’s birthdays. I would rather make a fuss about one person I really love and care about on the day the good Lord blessed the earth with their being than say, Christmas. Christmas is forced. You’re supposed to spread yuletide cheer to everyone. Gross. But you can do whatever you want on birthdays. Birthdays are as grandiose or as simple as the person wants them to be. Which is probably why I’m at a loss when it comes to my own.
I could scream about how birthdays are a capitalistic tool to get us to spend, spend, spend. The birthday industrial complex is much like the wedding industrial complex in that you’re sold an Instagrammable, Pinterest-worthy dream that will make everyone wish they had your life, your taste, your dream. Personally, I struggle with vocalizing what I want, especially around that time of year. It’s the one day when it’s socially acceptable to celebrate yourself and how far you’ve come when the other 364 days out the year women are not given the space to think of themselves. We must always think and care for others. And as someone who’s often put in the position of caretaker, I often love celebrating everyone but myself.
I try to explain all this to my spouse, but he is at a loss. He wrings his hands every year. “What do you want for your birthday? What do you want to do?” He wants me to tell him what I want. I usually shrug and say “whatever you want.” He is Exasperated. Part of being a woman is knowing what you want but not asking for it outright. Because that would be demanding. But it’s obviously frustrating when people just want you to spell it out for them.
I simultaneously envy and turn my nose up at women who celebrate “birthday weeks” or “birthday months” or take themselves on elaborate getaways. We all turn our noses up at bratty, demanding women. We all watch “Bridezillas” and “My Super Sweet 16” with disdain as the women and girls shriek, hiss, and cry when things don’t go their way. And what woman wants to be labeled demanding or difficult?
But when do we as women get to celebrate ourselves?