I'll let you into a little secret: it's my birthday this weekend. Regular readers may remember what a big kid I am at Christmas yet birthdays are a different story, mixing feelings of mild excitement - we are still talking presents, after all - and minor dread. Dread that, as with most of us, my actual age - the one facing me in the mirror - in no way matches the one in my head. I know ageing is all part of the natural process, and better than the alternative, blah, blah, but birthdays force focus on the numerics like no other day. And, birthdays highlight another issue too.
As all single parents will know, any event or occasion is down to us to organise, even our own birthdays. It breaks my heart when I recall mine just a month after I split with the DD's father. It was the least of my concerns that year, yet when I put them to bed the night before, DD1 looked up at me anxiously, and said "Mummy, it's your birthday tomorrow, what do we do?" Unknown to me, they had presents but didn't know the 'drill' for a birthday, as the adults had always led the charge. To their credit they are (almost!) as happy to celebrate my special day as they are their own. They just need me to tell them what we are doing, what we are eating, who we are seeing, should they buy a cake or can they make one, where do I keep the candles etc. All the stuff they're used to me sorting for theirs. Oh, to have time off from being the grown up, to be able to sit and be the carefree teenager I am in my head for this one day whilst someone else picks up the slack! (Just for one day, mind...)
But I'm not complaining. It's an overused, yet apt, sentiment that to estimate ones worth we should look at how much is left if we take away everything money can buy. With my kids, friends and family, I am stinking rich and very lucky.
So I will stop feeling sorry for my ageing bones, greying hair and the fact that this birthday finds me wearing reading glasses for the first time ever *stifled sob*. On Saturday morning, I will be woken by giggling outside my bedroom door and loud 'sssshs', designed to do the exact opposite, and a half-spilt cup of tea will appear (which I will discreetly 'Vanish' from the beige stairs carpet later). Homemade cards, painted stones, pictures and collages, bundles of carefully chosen gorgeous things and donated precious items wrapped in pretty paper with mismatched ribbon will plop onto my duvet. My darling girls will pile into bed next to me, argue over what I should open first, then give a running commentary on who chose what and why. Later, friends will pop in, my lovely mum will sing 'happy birthday' down the phone, we will eat cake, and I will feel loved and special.
Sunday will find me a year older and starting preparations for the fast approaching DD1's birthday, the wish list for which I have already received because it's an extra special one this year. So, actually I should just get over myself, stopping focusing on the wrinkles, and face up to the fact that theirs are the only birthdays that really count anyway.