Earlier this week I celebrated my birthday — and I use that term loosely.
To be honest, if I didn’t get texts from friends and family, it would have been just another day. I got up, had breakfast, went to work and came home.
For some reason birthdays just don’t really do anything for me. This has nothing to do with getting older or having some midlife (or quarter-life) crisis. I have been a birthday hater for as long as I can remember.
People are always shocked that I’m so nonplussed by my birthday, but it’s never been a big deal.
I always trace it back to my 6th birthday.
My family has never been big on birthdays and for that I blame (or credit) my uncles and my oldest sisters.
My parents both had brothers and somehow my uncles both had birthdays within days of Christmas. Growing up their parents, my grandparents, never made a big deal about their non-Christmas birthdays so my uncles wouldn’t feel like they were missing out.
When my parents had a kid, sure enough, my oldest sister was born within two weeks of Christmas. Growing up, it always felt like just an extension of Christmas.
There would be cards and gifts, but for the most part we’d just go out to dinner. That was how we celebrated in my family and it was great. I think my parents did a good job and tried to make me like my birthday, they just got the timing of my birth wrong.
My birthday is nowhere near a holiday, unless you count Labor Day. It is, however, near the opening of school.
In fact, my 6th birthday just so happened to be my very first day of school.
I remember it pretty vividly. I woke up early, because I was excited for my birthday. School, not so much.
I got out of bed and ran to the living room. I ripped open my cards and gifts and was so happy to get a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles party wagon.
If you don’t know what that is, it’s the coolest toy I could have gotten when I was 6. I was excited to break out my Ninja Turtles and begin playing.
Unfortunately my mom, and I guess the state of Missouri, had other ideas. I had to get ready for school.
I had to leave my sweet new toy behind, board the bus and start my life as a person who goes to school for the next 18 years.
After a long half day at school, I got on the bus and all I could think about was going home and having some adventures with the Turtles. The school had other ideas.
I got home and my mom told me there was some problem with my registration. They didn’t have it on file or something, but if I wanted to go to school the next day, I had to go take some tests.
I didn’t want to go back, but apparently I didn’t have a choice. Once again I had to bail on my sweet toy and go back to school. This time to prove I’d had my shots and like actually lived in the district.
Finally I was done and able to come home and play. But it turns out, a day of school and running errands when you’re not used to it can be tiring for a 6 year old so I didn’t really get the full day’s worth of enjoyment before falling asleep.
Tomorrow would bring another day, but that’s right, I had to go to school again.
I don’t want to sound dramatic, but I think it’s safe to say my life changed that day.
All of my friends with normal birthdays like June 1, Nov. 9, and April 15 enjoyed their days. They had countdowns.
I know people who talked about birthday months and birthday weeks. To me, when the calendar turned to August the first thing I thought of wasn’t “Hey, it’s my birthday month!” No, it was always “Oh no, school starts soon.”
By the time I was done with school, including college, I was 23 and far too old to care about birthdays. Besides, I was an adult with a job and that means work.
If my math is right, I’ll have to wait like another 40 years before I have an obligation-free birthday. Maybe I’ll look forward to that one.