Her: Holy shit, dude.
I remembered I should tell my husband and there was general happiness all around. And then... we did a little math and cringed.
It was going to be a holiday baby.
Not that I cared for my sake - after seven years of failure and infertility, you take what you can get. But I was sorry for my child's sake.
See, my birthday falls between Christmas and New Year's. Two of my cousins' fall a few days before Christmas. My uncle's: Christmas Day. I know a thing or two about how much it completely and totally stinks to be a holiday baby.
Seriously, if I never hear the words "Merry Birthday" again it will be too soon.
Other kids got actual birthday parties and actual birthday cakes and actual birthday gifts in actual birthday paper. If - and that's a big IF- I got separate Christmas and birthday gifts, they were always. Always. AL. WAYS. wrapped in Christmas paper.
And I'm not saying I was a greedy kid who wanted more presents. We didn't have a lot of money and I was always grateful for what I had. But it's hard to grow up with any self esteem when the overwhelming message from every adult in your life that the most important day in your young life is, for them, an afterthought.
Classmates born at normal times had moms who brought cupcakes to school and teachers who led us in the birthday song. Or they had fancy birthday parties at parks and swimming pools and bounce houses. I know this, because I overheard them talking about it at school.
But you know how kids are - if you don't invite them to your birthday party, you don't get invited to their birthday party. And I never had a birthday party. Never once. Which is to say I never went to any, either.
If it sounds like I'm bitter... maybe I am. A little. (The thing that really chapped my ass was that my brothers - May and October - both got real gifts for their birthdays.)
My precious little Bear was born the Monday of Thanksgiving week, and so far his birthday celebrations have fallen the weekend before. Since that's when many folks have their "other side of the family" Thanksgiving, odds are he'll never have a great birthday party turnout no matter how hard we try.
And then there's the SPD.
Though the neurologist just said he has "moved away from concerns about autism," I'm not kidding myself that Bear is suddenly going to be a social butterfly. He's still socially delayed, and until his stilted speech pattern improves I will remain concerned about peer acceptance . I mean, sure, he got that one birthday party invitation from another child in EI, but now he's aged out and we'll lose touch with those families (most of whom live too far for play dates). Since our connection to neurotypical families is currently limited to them judging us while he does what he does on the playground (which I'm still learning to handle as gracefully as Hartley), I'm not holding my breath for a mailbox full of invites.
I was relieved to learn I'm not the only SPD parent concerned about peer acceptance. I can only hope as time goes on I can create social opportunities for Bear to shine as brilliant and successful as fellow writer Caitlin did recently with the Halloween party she threw for her son's class.
I suppose the fact I'm already an expert on the inequities of the childhood birthday party quid pro quo holiday birthday situation gives me an advantage. It has certainly made me determined to give Bear as normal a birthday experience as possible, even when it means his cake is occupying the space in the fridge where I should be defrosting the turkey.
I know I still have some time before Bear reaches school age and these issues go from something I worry about to something that's affecting him. And I will remain eager to learn from the parents who have battled the peer acceptance demons on behalf of their sensational children and come out on top.
Meanwhile, I can only ask the world to take a moment to really think about the holiday babies in your life. Take the extra minute to get the birthday paper out of the closet. Call them and actually say Happy Birthday before asking how much pumpkin pie they had or what Santa brought. You have no idea how much it will mean to them, and I'm not exaggerating when I say you may be the only one to do so.
And please, please, for the sake of countless kids - neurotypicals and challenged alike - never, EV. ER. say Merry Birthday again.