I was born on January 15th 1987. Yup…27 years is only 3 more hours away. I wish I could say that I’m not one of those women who pretends she isn’t aging and in fact embraces growing old… but I can’t. It scares the shit out of me. Sorry I’m not sorry.
Martin Luther King JR’s (Junior being a huge part of that) has always shared my birthday with me. Or at least that’s how I’ve always viewed it. Which has been a huge honor and a slight pain in the ass.
During my elementary school years if our birthday actually landed on a monday…guess who didn’t have school? Guess who had to miss having a party with her class? Yea… I was pissed. What 3rd grader had to suffer like me??? (Never mind that a lot of kids had birthdays during the holidays. They’re just stoked to not have school for two weeks, so it’s fair). My mom being the poor, single mom that she was, probably thanked the good Lord every time it happened. BUT ME? WHY ME??? Besides that it was always pretty awesome.
My favorite things that happened on my birthdays?
In first grade I told my teacher I was black just like Martin Luther King Jr. Not that I believed it really. I had just spent my 20 minute bus ride thinking how cool it would be if Martin Jr was my long-lost grandpa. So I decided it sounded great and just went with it hoping my class would believe it. My friends did and for the first 5 minutes I was the cool girl. Then my teacher heard about my amazing birthday and grandpa. I’ve got a stubborn streak. Needless to say I stuck to my story. I was sent home with a note for my mother safety pinned to me. It expressed my teachers fears that my imagination was a little to wild and that I didn’t understand ethnic groups like I should. I stood there for a good ten minutes beaming while my mother laughed and laughed. Then she put her stern mom face on and told me to never lie again.
In 4th grade (when we really start to notice who is cool and who’s just ok…or rich vs poor) I was mortified when my mom suggested graham crackers with frosting for my classes birthday party for me. I mean really mom, how embarrassing!!! I cried and begged but she said it was that or nothing at all. We didn’t have the money for cupcakes and frosting and all of the ingredients. We needed the eggs we had and she already had the graham crackers so she would only have to pay for the frosting, which she had a coupon for. OH MAN. I finally caved after my tears ran out. When my mom showed up after lunch with the goods I literally held my breath. Deedle (his nickname) was my hero. He was one of the cool kids and instantly yelled “WHAT?!!! This is soooo cool!!!” upon seeing my mom open the container of frosted graham crackers. I beamed with delight and will never forget how my mom’s face changed from a polite smile to absolute joy when she saw my reaction. Stuff like that I hope I never forget!!!
My mom got a better job so my birthday’s got better. From the time I was in 8th grade I received a balloon and my favorite lunch from my mom. Up until my senior year. I think this started because a lot of my girl friends got them in 7th grade and when I got nothing on my 13th birthday (7th grade) I smiled all day until I got home and burst in to tears. Being poor was not always fun but I never really wanted my class mates to know I felt that way. I thought it meant I was embarrassed of my mom and I wasn’t. So I acted like I didn’t give two shits. My mom knew better. So she saved for things like that and gave up things for herself in the process. Too bad it took me until I was 22 to realize that.
My birthday being in January was awful for me. Being a kid who loved sunshine, the beach and roller coasters… well January meant I couldn’t celebrate it like I wanted to. My brother was the same way and his birthday was in December. So my mom, being the genius that she is, used January through June to save up during our teen years. Why? So that she could take us to Great America AND let us bring one friend. Oh my gosh!!! Time of our lives! Sure we might have packed lunches and had to go back to the car instead of eating inside the park and some times we even camped because it was cheaper than a hotel. Those things though only made it more unique and fun. Especially for our rich friends who never thought of doing things like that. My mom never brought a friend… at least that I can remember. Maybe once or twice. But most of the time she would wander off and let us do our own thing. It took me until I was about 23 to realize that while my brother and I were having a blast with our friends, our mother was walking around an amusement park trying to occupy her time until we were exhausted or the park closed. I MEAN WOW! What a mom. She never complained.
So I’ll be turning 27 this year. My mom already made a 2 hour drive out of her way to see me. She had my 4 younger siblings in tow which is quite a feat! Danielle is 9, Joseph is 8, Russell is 6 and Sebastian is 4. We had lunch with our crazy crew and then went to the beach to watch surfers. After that we said our good byes and she drove another two hours back to where they were staying in San Francisco. She never fails to make me feel important for my birthday by making a sacrifice.
Cheers to you Mom! I hope that I can learn to be as selfless as you. Thanks for bringing life to me and showing me what it means to really live it. Rich or poor. You’re the best!