When you are a middle child, you are constantly seeking attention. Especially when you are a middle sister with a perfect older sister and a younger brother who is put on a parental pedestal like the crown prince. Being the middle has suited me just fine, and I have played the middle child card like an experienced poker player. Most things I have done in my life I have blamed on “middle child syndrome.” I am not sure if that is an actual psychiatric diagnosis, but I have tried to make it one. And, truth be told, it should be one.
In any event, my birthday is very important to me, especially as someone with low self-esteem who, like I mentioned before, is constantly seeking attention. My family knows that the countdown to my birthday starts on October 1, which just happens to be son #1’s birthday. September 1, which happens to be son #3’s birthday is the countdown to son #1’s birthday — but I sort of also make that a countdown to my birthday…which is November 1. The day before, October 31, Halloween (the gentile Purim) is my sister’s birthday. She is one day and 6 years older than I am, but has always looked younger (what a surprise) and the day after Halloween is known as All Saints Day — which means that I am a saint… Saint Cranky? Who knows, but I still love my birthday. Halloween candy goes on sale, the leaves are turning beautiful colors, and the world was made a more interesting place because I am in it….
Since my family knows how much importance I place on this one day of the year that can be totally about me (as I boycott laundry, housecleaning, and food shopping on this magical day), they know they have a lot of expectations to fulfill and I know to hold those expectations to a very, very low standard. Because like I always say, “Expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised.” One year, the boys got the whole family Where’s Waldo matching onesies. We all put them on, took some pictures, and it was my most liked photo on Facebook ever. So that was a good birthday.
This year’s, however, was questionable. I already knew that sons #1 and 2 were going to be learning in Yeshiva University and neither was coming home for the weekend. I knew that son #3 was going to be in California accompanying the TABC varsity basketball team as their loyal manager and that he wasn’t going to be home for the weekend either. Husband #1 was very excited to be alone with me for five days, totally clueless that we were celebrating my birthday and not his. What can you do?
So the day of my birthday arrives and at midnight, I was Facetimed by son #1. That was adorable. At 12:01 I was watsapped by son #2. Totally acceptable. But son #3, who knew he wasn’t going to be home, had husband #1 give me a really sweet card and a stuffed puppy dog (everyone, meet Wally) to be friends with the stuffed bear that he got Ari and me on our anniversary. And what he wrote in the card was so beautiful and touching, it made me really feel that he appreciates me. And every mother loves knowing that.
I was meeting husband #1 in the city to get tickets for a show and that all worked out nicely until we discovered that the show we got tickets for started an hour later than we thought and then husband #1 realized he was going to miss 11 p.m. Maariv, but he knew that if he said something about missing shul that I would make some comment about it being my birthday and blah blah blah — so we sold those tickets and then got tickets to an earlier show and he made it home for Maariv and mashiach is now that much closer to coming to Teaneck. As for son #1 and son #2 — let’s put it this way — they received a B- and D, respectively, for the “How we celebrated mom’s birthday” grades. Son #1 asked for some extra credit to raise his grade and son #2, my middle child, decided that the “D” stood for “Da best.”
But as the day came to an end, I was grateful for all of the gifts in my life…my beautiful boys, my husband who I haven’t killed yet and my friends who acknowledge my craziness, but still love me anyway. So happy birthday to me and may all of my wishes come true.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is going to see Billy Joel in January because husband #1 got her tickets for her birthday. He got an “A” this year…..