#blogadaymay: Day 2: BIRTHDAYS

You know some people aren’t that fussed about birthdays?

It’s just a number, another day, I’ve not done anything, why make a fuss?!”

Yeah, I’m pretty much the opposite of that. Imagine the excitement that a four year old feels about their birthday? Asking you about 10 months in advance: 

  •  ”will it be my birthday soooooon?!”
  • ”can I have a caaaaaake?” 
  • ”can I have a party?!?!” 
  • ”can I have a UNICORN?!?!” 

Replace unicorn for lie-in and a trip to get a massage and that’s pretty much me. I love celebrations. Christmas, Easter, other people’s birthdays, my own: I just get so excited and excitable. We’ve even been known to call my birthday a birthday “season” (I know...)

But I promise this isn’t all just a major narcissist trip ALL ABOUT ME (even though it is my birthday TODAY!)

Since becoming a mum birthdays now mean two big things to me:

  1. my kids have birthdays, and it’s exciting and terrifying. 
  2. since having kids, I reflect so much more on death, and with every birthday I think about what death actually is. 

Point 1 first. I’m that mum cliché at their birthdays - “how do I have a 1/2/3/(nearly 4) year old”, sobbing to my husband, terrified at how quickly life is going by, at my children’s increased independence, inquisitiveness and every day joy. Concern for their realisation that life isn’t always lovely, that some people want to hurt other people, that not everyone wants to be friends. Excitement that they’re developing into people, with personalities and interests and BEING HAPPY.

Point 2: thinking about death. We’ve had some death in the family. The worst was my Uncle, whom we lived with for years, who I loved so very much, and who suddenly died. I was very shocked by his death, but for a whole host of reasons we imagined that Uncle would have been ok with it, that he’d want to go out with a bang, not a whimper. Now I’ve had children I am suddenly much more cautious, much more aware, far more conscious that death is everywhere, and that neither I nor my children deserve to feel fear around it. I hear about terrorist attacks and wonder if I should now avoid London. I learn of a new disease that has the potential to be deadly, and make them wash their hands extra-thoroughly. This side of me is new, and I'm learning to be ok with death. I love Cariad Lloyd's Grief Cast, which talks with humour, honesty and with great compassion about the subject.

I also refer back to this poem regularly when thinking about him (though he would have taken the reference to God and not been best pleased!)

A Song of Living: Amelia Josephine Burr

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.
I have sent up my gladness on wings, to be lost in the blue of the sky.
I have run and leaped with the rain, I have taken the wind to my breast.
My cheeks like a drowsy child to the face of the earth I have pressed.
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I have kissed young love on the lips, I have heard his song to the end,
I have struck my hand like a seal in the loyal hand of a friend.
I have known the peace of heaven, the comfort of work done well.
I have longed for death in the darkness and risen alive out of hell.
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I gave a share of my soul to the world, when and where my course is run.
I know that another shall finish the task I surely must leave undone.
I know that no flower, nor flint was in vain on the path I trod.
As one looks on a face through a window, through life I have looked on God,
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die. 

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Birthdays, like so much since I have become a mum, will still be wonderful, exciting, give me the unicorn thrill of a four year old waiting for her party. They will also give me time to reflect, to pause, to be thankful, and to remember those I've loved and lost.