Adult Birthdays – What are your expectations?

Derived from years of disappointing birthdays from my childhood, I had learned to keep my expectations rather low (at least I consider them low) for any of my birthdays.  This way if anything good did happen, it was enjoyable and appreciated.
Just based on TV, movies and some friends/family, it seems that most would consider a card, flowers and some sort of dessert (cake, cupcakes, cookies, etc.) with a candle on it to be the default… the basics… trite.  They want a nice present too – jewelry, a facial, a massage, a mani-pedi or a surprise party where all their friends are invited and there is an open bar.
Not me.  I’m not that kind of woman.  Those expectations would be WAY TOO HIGH in my book.  I want trite.  Trite is all I’m ever – dare I say – “expecting”.  Just a card, some flowers (like the cheap kind at the grocery store), something in which to blow out a candle for a wish and maybe a few “happy birthdays” during the day.
Can’t a girl just get the basics from her hubby?
Nope.  Not this 30-something.  Not this year.

Now you have to understand I don’t have one of “those” husbands… the thoughtless, selfish, don’t do much of anything lump of a husband… Nope, mine helps around the house, does his own laundry, helps change the dirty diapers, mows the lawn, takes the trash out, is a pretty decent handy man, etc.  He raised his own bar of expectation over the years.
I’ve done nothing but sing his praises since our second child was born as he has been an awesome helper.
But the new baby honeymoon is over I guess… tiredness and stress have taken over.
But still, I don’t consider that an excuse to drop the ball on a birthday as I’ve been overtired and ‘not in the mood’ to do anything and yet still manage the basics for his birthdays:  I get out the box from the garage clearly & appropriately labeled “party stuff” and bring out the streamers, happy birthday banners, blow up some balloons, make him feel special and buy him a cake and put on a candle for a wish.  That is the MINIMUM and I’ve always managed it (treat others as you would like to be treated, right?)
If I’m lucky enough to come up with a brilliant idea for a gift (he’s hard to buy for) than he gets that too, but that’s rare (it’s rare for us to ever exchange gifts as we’d rather save the money).

It was my birthday yesterday, but it sure didn’t feel like it.
It didn’t start off well when my 3 month old decided not to sleep until her current “normal” time and woke me up early.  I can forgive that… she’s an infant.
My hubby had gone out early to the grocery store which I appreciated.  Mainly the reason was because we needed dry cat food, otherwise the cats might have eaten my face off during the day if hubby waited to go after work.
I knew this allowed an opportunity for hubby to get me some birthday items while there.

But when he returned, all there seemed to be was flowers… flowers I’d actually ASKED FOR because I had my doubts he’d even get those (he didn’t get me flowers on Valentine’s Day so on the 15th I bought some for myself).  I had really been enjoying those roses I got and would literally stop and smell the roses every day and I’d just had to throw them away and wanted to replace them.  I specifically said I wanted something that “smells nice” but he got ones that look nice but have no smell.  Argh… oh well.

Then I opened the box my in-laws had sent and told me I wasn’t allowed to open it until my birthday.  OK, I’m fine with that.  I was actually surprised they sent anything as usually they just forget my birthday… so this certainly felt special at first.  I open it and it was exactly what I feared they’d get me.  I’ll explain.
Over Christmas my in-laws had visited and as my gift they got me a live lobster for dinner (as well as some for themselves to eat with me).  They knew I liked lobster and I appreciated the splurge but over the course of the night I did manage to inform them of the following:
a) I don’t actually like dealing with live lobsters (killing them) or having to dismantle the body, so when I splurge to have lobster at all, I usually only get the meat already cooked or just the tail and
b) because I don’t like to deal with the body, I hadn’t done it since about at least 10 years – so whole lobsters are a very rare occurrence… on purpose.
I also thought they were lucky that I happened to have a lobster pot, a shellfish cracker and even lobster forks as we live inland and I’m not quite sure I could have found those items at the local grocery store.

As my father-in-law & I were sharing my one cracker, I actually thought to myself at the time “I hope they don’t buy me a cracker as a gift”.

So what did they so thoughtfully gift me 2 months later?  You guessed it – a new shellfish cracker as well as a set of 4 lobster forks and two butter warmers.

At this point I actually said out loud (hubby was in earshot) “does no one listen to me???”
If they had, they would have known that this was a completely USELESS gift for me!   Thanks for yet another kitchen gadget that will take up space and only get used once a decade – if that!

I also find it insulting.  Yes my shell cracker was old school (it was from my childhood) but I like it and have no intention of replacing it.  Since I’m the only one in my household who eats lobster, I don’t need two and I haven’t cracked open a nut since I was 7.  Also, what the hell was wrong with *my* lobster forks?  I already have 4 of those.  WTF?  (this goes back to my mother-in-law always thinking her taste is best/better and can’t understand why everyone else doesn’t take her as the gold standard)
What bugs me more is that they are probably all pleased with themselves that not only did they not forget my birthday this year, but that they got this super appropriate gift I really needed!  NOT.  Grr.  It might as well have been a gold bracelet (I hate gold and I haven’t worn bracelets since high school).

Then I had the thought that maybe another box with a live lobster would be arriving at my doorstep so that at least the butter warmer would be useful and all would be forgiven.  Nope, nothing ever arrived.  Tease.

The day did not improve.

My baby was particularly needy and by early afternoon I was exhausted.  I was finally getting to nod off while she was breastfeeding when my son’s school called and woke me up.
I proceeded to have to talk to the school nurse for 10 minutes about something that happened with my son.  It was embarrassing (mostly to me, not my son who doesn’t seem to care about it and I know he knew better and was doing it on purpose) and shouldn’t be happening with a 7 year old.  I proceeded to spend the next hour Googling the problem only to discover tons of other parents dealing with the same issue (even with older kids) and were beyond frustrated like I was, but with no new solutions I hadn’t already tried.

Before I knew it my son was home from school and then I had to deal with him and divvying out the punishment for his actions.  No Xbox, no computer, no tablet & no TV – just toys to occupy him.  But with those privileges revoked, he made it his mission to just bother me all afternoon instead of playing.  He just hung around and was super extra annoying.  Punishing him equals punishing me.  But I’m tough and refuse to give in, so I put up with it so he’d hopefully learn a lesson.  There were a cute bunch of big brother/little sister moments in there, but mostly I needed him to calm down or be quiet for the baby’s sake.

OK… now it was getting near dinner time.  We had already planned to order curbside pickup from Outback.  I like ordering from there because I can get the add-on of a steamed lobster tail and it’s actually decent lobster (plus I’d been teased with all the lobster paraphernalia so I had to get some).  However, they suck at getting our order correct.  For the last 2 times we ordered, they forgot something… my appetizer, the bread, the ranch dressing, etc.  SOMETHING is always missing!
So I’d emailed my hubby who was going to pick the food up prior to coming home to DOUBLE CHECK THE BAG!  Then, he called me before getting there and I said again – please double check the bag as I do not trust them not to screw it up!  Plus with the day I was having I just KNEW they’d fuck it up.  I even said I’d be pissed if they forgot to include the clarified butter for my lobster as that would be most likely what they’d forget.

Hubby gets home.  I ask “did you check the bag?”  No.  He didn’t.  He had waited 20 minutes beyond the time we’d ordered the meal to be ready for so he went inside to talk to the manager.  After enquiring just how long of a wait is really expected, he also mentioned how our orders were always messed up.  So the manager took the cost of my hubby’s meal off our bill because of the wait time ($18!) and said he would pack our bag himself.  So seeming the manager was doing it and “paying special care”, hubby made the call not to check the bag.
I rolled my eyes in anger.  I don’t care if it was the manager who packed the bag – I don’t trust them!

So I’m unpacking all our food.


Guess what was missing?  Uh-huh… my clarified butter.

Once again, DOES NO ONE LISTEN TO ME??? I just wanted him to check the effing bag himself – was that too much to ask?  Especially as a birthday favor for me so nothing would be messed up?
I was fuming at this point.  I knew it… I just knew it.
I was way too pissed to have patience to use one of my new lovely butter warmers, so I put some butter in a small glass bowl and nuked it (plus it is a butter *warmer*… it just keeps it warm but you still have to melt it in the first place).  Screw that.  And thank goodness I had butter in the house.

Dinner gets finished and the biggest difference is that my hubby is entertaining the baby a little bit more than usual, but otherwise it was like any other day.   My son never said happy birthday to me once and hubby didn’t even make or get me a card or even say happy birthday to me in the evening.

Later as my bitterness was mounting, I was in the kitchen making my son’s school lunch for the next day (it was after 10 pm at this point) and muttered “well I guess I don’t get to blow out a candle on anything”.
Hubby said he didn’t know what to get me for a dessert (because of my breastfeeding diet restrictions) and I guess therefore decided not to do a damn thing.
I said “use your imagination – I do every day figuring out what I can and can’t eat”.
I pointed to the banana oatmeal muffins I’d made a couple days ago that were sitting in a container on the counter and said “you could have stuck a candle in one of those.”
“I don’t know where the candles are”
“They are in the box marked “Party Stuff” in the garage… the same place it’s been for 3 ½ years!”
He was holding the baby at the time and immediately went out into the garage to locate this apparently elusive box.
After he went out the door I felt like crying.  Yes we have a 3 month old… yes my hubby is currently overworked at his job, stressed and tired, but the opportunity was there to pick up just the b-day minimums as I already mentioned I always manage for him… why wasn’t I worth the effort?

I wasn’t bitter, I was sad.  I felt utterly unimportant and the opposite of special.  This is NOT how one should feel on their birthday and I hadn’t been so let down since my 16th birthday when my dad & stepmom royally dropped the ball.  This would mark the second birthday I cried or felt like crying.

I knew he wouldn’t be able to get the box while holding the baby and as I thought, he came back in the house empty handed.  At that point I was mentioning that it didn’t even need to be a birthday candle and I pointed to the half dozen scented candles on top of the cabinet we were standing next to and said he could have just lit one of those for me to blow out and that would have been fine (see? I’m easy!)

Clearly getting the message that I was not a happy camper and he totally screwed up, he asked if he could hand me the baby so he could go out the garage and get a birthday candle, but I’d had enough.  I felt stupid.  I felt like a whiny little kid and let’s face it, somebody doing something for you because you guilt, bully or whine them into it has ZERO meaning over if they had thought of doing it on their own.
So I just let out a noise of frustration and said “never mind…let’s just go finish watching Castle.”

At that point I started walking to the family room and again felt like bawling.
Could I not get any gesture of thoughtfulness that wasn’t begged for today?  I guess not.
But I wasn’t done… this was bothering me to the core.
I said “do you not care about the birthday banners, balloons and decorations I put out for your birthday?  Should I not bother with the effort anymore?”
He immediately said “No”… like a child I’d just scolded and just got the message because I made them step into my shoes even just for a moment to feel a taste of what I was feeling.

I can understand if he was too tired, but if he knew he was dropping the ball, then why couldn’t he just say so?  Tell me you’ll make up for it on the weekend when you don’t have to work.  But no, once again it had to come from me.  Just before bed I asked “Can I get a birthday do-over on Saturday?”
“Yes, I won’t have work so I’ll be better”

But will it mean as much?  I really don’t know.  I’d love to just wake up on Saturday and fully pretend it is my birthday and that this disappointing day never happened.

The only source of specialness all day was having over 30 Facebook friends post ‘happy birthday’ messages on my wall.  How fucking pathetic is that?  Those wall postings should be just an added source of specialness… not the ONLY one!
With each “hope you’re having a great day”, “enjoy getting pampered”, “hope you’re doing something special”, etc. it cut like a knife how opposite my day really went.

So did I overreact?  What do you expect for treatment or celebration on your birthday?  I just feel like the fact that we’ll be married 14 years this year and he’s never dropped the ball this badly is what all made my day feel even worse.  It is too much to just expect the minimum?

This is kind of how I felt…

"I can't believe they fucking forgot my birthday."

“I can’t believe they fucking forgot my birthday.”


About gwenacious

Always a person in progress. On a mission of self-improvement and exploring my artistic side.
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4 Responses to Adult Birthdays – What are your expectations?

  1. Hi! I just wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for the Beautiful Mama Blog Award. For more information, please check out the following post:

    Have a great day!

  2. Masra says:

    Birthdays are a bitch for me as well. Trauma from childhood. I think it’s the job of people in our life to find out what we need to feel happy and if they don’t deliver, why are they even in our life?

    That might sound intense but the truth often is.

  3. Rebecca fulcher says:

    I just had one of those birthdays so you’re not alone xxx

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