‘It was 37 years ago today…’

Did you read the title with the Beatles ‘It was 20 years ago today….’ from Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band going round your head? No? Have another read now it’s there and you’ll find my lyrics very nearly fit! It was 37 years ago today that I was born as it’s my birthday today. I don’t really like birthdays not because of the usual not wanting to get older (I know I’m getting older and I accept that) but because birthdays from the age of 14 when my parents got divorced became something special that other people did. Other people got cakes with candles and families that sang ‘happy birthday’ to them and other people got presents and surprises and made to feel well, special. From the age of 14 I certainly didn’t get that…

As a consequence I’ve never really been one to celebrate my birthday. I’m not the ‘it’s my birthday let’s go out!’ kind of person and you’ll certainly never get a text from me arranging drinks in a bar ‘in town’ as others do. I’m happy to slink into my birthday and out the other end quietly and without any fuss and as I’ve done this for quite some years now I’m really very good at it. I love other people’s birthdays and prefer to concentrate on that.

I married a man who wasn’t particularly great at celebrating birthdays either who bought me the most random things I think I’ve ever had. I bought him things such as a day’s sailing on a Whitbread round the world yacht which he loved. (and wasn’t nearly as expensive as you’d imagine) One Christmas I bought him the present of sailing part of a leg of a journey on the same boat where he moored in Dublin and met up with his sister and for his 30th he has the memory of cruising a narrowboat into a lock whilst being serenaded by 20+ walkers singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him and they only had to pause a little to ask his name. I loved buying him presents –when I worked and had the money! His presents to me always confused me a little; a seahorse necklace (he’s the one into diving and loves the underwater not me) but I think the most memorable (and still talked about one today) was the stuffed toy of the very hungry caterpillar (with book) which being a teacher I already had. Yes from the age of 14 birthdays weren’t great and for a while they continued to be even after I married a lovely man.

Last year though he excelled himself. For the first time he planned a surprise and managed to keep it a surprise for a whole 2 months before finally cracking and telling me. (I knew he would he’s rubbish at keeping secrets) He’d planned an amazing trip to New York meeting up with my middle brother and his lovely wife which he knew I would love. My family is very important to me so he struck birthday present bingo with that one and he knew he’d earned many brownie points for years to come. We had a fab time seeing all the sights, having the most amazing dinner in a gorgeous little restaurant and we flew first class so, for that birthday, I felt like a princess. There were surprises, presents and fun and I have to admit I loved it…

This year I took matters into my own hand and planned my birthday. I work hard with my business sewing, teaching and writing and I usually save all the money earned to pay for things the boys need but I took some money out and bought 5 tickets to see Disney’s Fantasia at the Albert Hall. We travelled on the train, took the tube (oh WOW!!! Mummy!!’) and finally arrived at the Albert Hall much to the huge excitement of the boys as they had seen the Horrible Histories Prom and knew all about it. They loved the instruments –Henry got a wave from a double bassist – the power of the orchestra and yes, the chocolate ice-cream in the interval. I’d arranged this for the day before my birthday and it is was a perfect day out. We all enjoyed ourselves.

Today is my actual birthday and I woke up to whisperings of ‘SHHHHHHHH!!! Don’t wake Mummy!!!! We need to go and write cards and wrap her presents’ and I was left in bed giggling at my 3 lovely little boys. Hubbie (the 4th lovely big boy) was already downstairs making me a cup of tea. All 4 then came into the bedroom after clattering and giggling up the stairs trying to be quiet. (Children are a little like drunk people in thinking they are actually much quieter than they really are I’ve found out) I opened my presents whilst being watched by 4 smiling boys and loved them.

Sometimes it’s not the amount spent on you or even the need for a grand gesture of a weekend away in New York (though that was very nice) it’s merely that for one day a year someone actually thinks about what you would like to open on the day. That they’ve spent 5 mins thinking about what would make you happy. I had 3 very excited little boys on my bed this morning all wanting to make their mummy happy and the cards filled with neatest handwriting, wonderful drawings (that you can really tell it’s me!) and the massive cuddles that I got after I opened all the presents (that this year they managed to hold back on telling me what was in them just before I opened them –yay!) really made my day. Hubbie is cooking steak tonight with a garlic mayonnaise that he knows is my favourite and although I didn’t get to spend the day with the friend I had planned as her daughter ate a handful of Vicks Vaporub just before she went on the school run!! I did spend it with an equally lovely friend watching our children go slightly mad at soft play. Birthdays are getting better and not just because the presents are getting better it’s more that I feel that for just one day a year I am thought of in a way I never was when I was younger and do you know what? I’m actually looking forward to my next birthday…


About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
This entry was posted in Read about me, The random thoughts of me and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to ‘It was 37 years ago today…’

  1. Alison Lamper says:

    My 21st birthday I will never forget because my Dear Scottish Granny died the day before! I was due to fly out to the USA for a year that day but luckily it had been delayed by 3wks. I know u can plan when u die but bloody typical! As luck would also have it I had already celebrated with a party 2wks before my 21st because I shared it with my mums 50th.

  2. carol forbes says:

    glad your birthdays are getting better. i have similar memories of teenage – and later birthdays – although my mother arranged parties for my 16th, 18th and 21st birthdays – i hate parties where you cant hide or choose who you wish to talk to or leave when you have had enough – pretty close to my idea of hell on earth, even now. Like you birthdays are getting better, the children are reminded by my partner to at least call me and he is wonderful at planning surprises – rubbish at keeping them a surprise but the ideas are great. I think I’m a little too young for it but last year he bought me a membership of the red hat club along with the most enormous red hat and a copy of the jenny jones poem framed. hope you have a lovely birthday meal x

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