My birthday has never been a favourite day of mine. Maybe it stems from many years ago on the occasion of my 5th birthday which was celebrated with a broken arm. I had actually broken the arm several days before. My mother had found me crouched in the sun room on the porch of our old Victorian house hiding from the sun. I remember that I held my arm up to her and told her the sun was burning it. Three days later she took me to the hospital to find that it was indeed broken and a cast was duly applied. She still has a picture of me in front of a birthday cake, tiny and tow headed wearing pastel blue and pink beads with a cast starting just above the elbow and stretching down to cover most of my hand. Birthdays have just never been my thing.
This year my birthday was one of those “landmark” birthdays that sometimes cause people to look back upon their life and assess their progress as they see fit. The past two years have been full of a great deal of change for me.
Big change number one – I married approximately two years ago. There’s a book that could be written about that. Family always puts such an “interesting” spin on those things.
Big change number two – A new plan for my employment situation was required a little more than a year ago as I was on the receiving end of a hockey puck that gave me a cut that took 15 stitches to close and permanently altered my depth perception and ability to tell the difference between particular colours. The old job was a dead end but it was a hell of a nasty way out.
Big change number three – Nine months ago I moved from a good sized urban center to a very small community leaving behind all my friends and networking opportunities. So definitely there was a lot to look back on.
So lots of things to think about. As well for the first time that I’d really noticed my birthday coincided with Fathers Day. So that was more to reflect on.
I have no memory of ever having met my father. As a matter of fact, although my mother has been married several times I grew up having no idea what a father did or even that having one around might be an asset. When I was younger I never gave it much thought. I was a single parent at 25 and that did not strike me as odd. It was the type of family I had grown up in. I probably would have gone through life none the wiser but for one thing; I married a good father. I’m not saying that he’s Ward Cleaver, don’t get me wrong. He’s an actual human being with all the flaws and quirks that all of us have.
He hogs the television and falls asleep on the couch. I made him breakfast in bed on Fathers Day and when he spilled his orange juice he laid in bed and yelled for me to come up and clean it. He’s a smart ass with the kids. When they go out he eats their Christmas and Easter candy. He nags them to pick up their stuff and to take the dog out. I’ll ask him to do something and he’ll tell the kids they have to do it. He drives them crazy and he loves them. He calls his kids every day because they don’t live with us. He helps support his children financially. He is raising another man’s child as his own with all that entails. He gets along with his ex wife to the best of his ability. He tries to be a fair and decent human being and set a good example for his kids and my son who lives with us. He loves his children more than anything else. It shapes his days and his nights. It has determined the course of his life and there have been times when it has been very difficult. Even so, while he might change a few of the details he wouldn’t give up the whole of it for anything. That is how I know what a father is and what a father does.
We were watching something on television, some Kodak moment between television father and daughter. I said to my husband, ” I wonder, why my father didn’t love me?”. My husband told me that I couldn’t possibly know whether or not my father loved me and that I didn’t really know what had happened. I didn’t say anything. Kindness on his part had extended the benefit of a doubt to a man I have never met. That kindness came from a heart that would never choose to absence himself from his children’s lives and be anything less than a real father.
And this is the man I married, what does that say about me? I don’t know…something…nothing…everything?
So I was miserable on my birthday.
Maybe that is the way it’s supposed to be. I’ve never really been very good at this birthday thing.