Why My Birthday Will Never Be Mine


With time I’ve seen more loved ones approach birthdays in a self-deprecating way. Some don’t want to acknowledge the age, or don’t want to celebrate, or forget to.

My birth day could be categorized as a story of time. I was due on March 15th but my mom hoped for earlier, partly because it’s the Ides of March and partly because she wanted me to be born before her birthday, March 14th. She wanted to have me at age 30, not 31.

So, naturally, I was eight days late. And after so much waiting – big, uncomfortable, so ready – it all happened fast. Dad wanted to stop for coffee at QuikTrip, he jokes he wanted to hang in the La-Z-Boy chair in the hospital room. Instead, he ran all the red lights, barely parking and making it upstairs. Nineteen minutes from our arrival I was brought into the world by our nurse, Kathy, who my parents loved. She said she always listened to her patients. My mom was so appreciative of that.

Dad says he still can visualize it, exactly what I looked like. They both said then that I didn’t look more like either one of them, that I looked like myself. They echo this today, telling me to just be the best, most lit up version of me.

They say it’s the most amazing thing on the planet, you can’t even describe the wonder and awe. And that they remember looking at my fingers and toes, just holding my hands and looking at how long my fingers were. My black hair and blue eyes. My sister got an “I’m a big sister” pin and my grandparents came. The three who are still with us will be together again at my wedding this spring. That’s the thing about time, sometimes it comes full circle, skips backward and forward, is shared across generations. My mom was born the exact same way, with Grandpa hardly parking the car in time. I think about how much we share.

In an individualistic culture, birthdays are specifically dedicated to the person born. Why aren’t they more about the parents? The family, the ones who remember it, those people whose lives are changed inextricably by this exact person born, their specific life and the precise manner it unfolds. We share this life from the beginning. Eventually, these memories become emphasized and eclipsed by something bigger than the individual events themselves: the people who comprise them. A birthday is so much more than the year before and after it. For this reason, my birthday will never be about me.


BY Bre Arends - March 24, 2019

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March 25, 2019 9:09 am

Nice post enjoy every bit of it.
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John Arends
March 25, 2019 3:18 pm

So wonderful to read this today, Bre, on Monday, March 25, which is my mom’s birthday…and two days after spending yours with your wonderful family! Thanks for sharing your origin story. I now know why your dad is in such great shape. He’s been running and riding every day since dashing up those steps 27 years ago!

March 25, 2019 4:44 pm

I really love this look! I always call my mom on my birthday and tell her “happy birthing day!” because let’s face it, she put in much more work than me on that day!

March 29, 2019 8:23 am

When I first saw this title my mind immediately jumped to a different conclusion. My birthday will also never be mine. 4 months ago, on my birthday, my (partner’s) sweet niece was stillborn completely unexpectedly and full term. My birthday stopped the second we found out and I will now forever honour her on our shared birthday.

July 24, 2019 5:41 pm

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September 25, 2019 5:54 pm

I have never thought of birthday this way! I think this is a very unique and interesting outlook. The more I think about it, the more I agree with you. It should be more about the parents. They’re the ones who put in all the work, from the birth all the way until the children move out and even after.

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