Birthday cake does not a man make

When you get to be a certain age (those who have known me long enough know my age, those who haven’t will just wonder) your birthday means little more than the number of years you have wandered aimlessly on earth. I’ve never really enjoyed having birthday parties. As I’ve said before in previous posts, I was a very shy kid and I was much more comfortable being a wall flower than I was when I was suddenly thrust into the spotlight which wasn’t often and when I was in the spotlight it was extremely awkward for me. I always shied away from being the center of attention.

My mom must have realized that because I think she tried her best to shelter me from being in uncomfortable situations. Man I love my mom!

I don’t recall having birthday parties as a kid because frankly we had a lot of people living in our house when we were kids so filling bellies with actual food, having decent clothing and a roof over our heads was a bigger priority than splurging on balloons, confetti, party favors, party games and chocolate cake. We normally played pin the laundry up on the clothes line as opposed to pin the tail on the donkey.

In the Matua household of yester-year, the observance of birthdays consisted of enjoying a favorite meal and a cake made from scratch by my mother’s very capable hands. On that day everyone in the family made every attempt to treat the person celebrating a birthday with extra care and respect. Not a lot of fanfare, occasionally a gift or a small token of my parents’ love but most of the time, just a day to honor and shower the birthday celebrant with love.

When I reached a certain age – about 16 – birthdays held very little significance for me other than the fact that I was always grateful for the opportunity to harass others on earth for yet another year. But Super Mom has ruined me over the years since we started dating and through the years of our marriage. She insists on doing things to make me feel extra special. But for a guy whose personality profile is unquestionably INFJ I would still rather be sitting alone in the corner with a good book or just simply people watching.

I know, I’m weird but that’s just the way it’s always been. It’s hardly fun for Super Mom who loves to surround herself with people. She is the ultimate social butterfly and she’s so much fun whereas I am dull and a party downer.

It’s interesting that two very different people were so drawn to each other and enjoy being together. What is even more interesting is watching the differences in our sons. I can’t say with a surety that one is definitely like me and another is definitely like Super Mom because they seem so mixed in their reactions to different scenarios. No. 1 can be so spontaneous and outgoing like his mom one moment and the very next moment he is somber and aloof like me. No. 2 is calculated and tactful sometimes and carefree and spirited the next. No. 3….Not really sure there; No. 4’s lips flap a mile a minute most of the time but then there are times when you can’t get a word out of him. And then there is No. 5 – he is the happiest kid on earth 99.9% of the time. But when No. 5 assumes his dramatic alter-ego A.K.A. Mama’s Drama, he can bring the whole house down.

I guess that’s really what birthday’s mean to me now. It’s never been about the party or the cake (although I can put away some cake in a flash) and it’s never been about the dreaded reality of growing old (I still believe that age is a state of mind). No, birthdays are a celebration of survival, of being, of growing and experiencing new things or being reminded of past things. Birthdays for me are a quiet observance of what God has given me and what he may take away at any moment. Birthdays are about sharing parts of me with the people I love and in turn taking a piece of them that I can cherish all for myself. I celebrated another year of life yesterday and I’m looking forward to many more years, God willing.

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