Saturday, August 25, 2007

birthdays

Tuesday is my birthday. Years ago, that would have been good news. Nowadays it's a tear-jerker. It's universally accepted that most adults would prefer not to get older, but that's not what I'm talking about. Nowadays my birthday points out how alone I am, never mind how old I am.

The above photo was taken today in my living room. As you can see, my birthday is off to a good start, with today being only Saturday. I have already received 2 cards for Tuesday's birthday: one from my best friend in NY whom I met in 7th grade, and the other, the smaller of the two, is from what's left of my biological family. The zinnias are from myself; I bought them at a farmer's market downtown yesterday.

Today happens to be the birthday of a 4th grader named Ian. He is The Child's former best friend. This morning when I was out buying corn on the cob I ran into Ethan, one of The Child's classmates. Ethan wanted to know where The Child was, and I explained that 2 of our adult friends had taken The Child to a waterpark. Then Ethan wanted to know why the Child wasn't going to be attending Ian's overnight birthday party today, and I said that The Child had not been invited.

A healthy-minded, well-adjusted adult parent would not become undone by the fact that her Child had been snubbed for a birthday party to which many other kids from school had been invited. I know this. And I am completely undone.

Rejection just sucks; there's no way around it. It's bad enough that The Child has been mysteriously left out of a party for his close friend who has been our guest many times, but why do I have to take this personally? Is he somehow being excluded because of me? Have I raised a social reject? Or does this ring a bell, dredging up memories of my own painfully lonely childhood? Maybe someday I'll have such an incredibly strong sense of self worth that I will not be affected by the absence of party invitations for The Child, but I'm not there yet- I'm not even on that planet.

And in the case of my birthday, there's no party, so there's no lack of invitation to worry about, thankfully. But there's still the profound disappointment which I first felt the year that my mother died. On my birthday the year that she died, I was hit by the realization that nobody would ever care about me as much as she did. I did have a boyfriend that year, but I've always chosen men unwisely. He picked a horrible fight with me on that birthday, and I received no cards or gifts from anyone. My biological family had disintegrated after my mother's death- they felt nothing but resentment toward me even though I paid for the funeral (she had left her tiny "estate" of a couple thousand dollars to me). There were no birthday wishes coming from them.

To make matters worse, my mother used to spoil me. I was her youngest, and I was the one she became good buddies with. She showered me with thoughtful, appropriate gifts on my birthday, Christmas, Easter, and even Valentine's Day. The woman was a shopper- no, she was SHOPPER- which was good for me, because I was NOT. She even used to buy my clothing, and my current wardrobe reflects her absence.

I miss the presents, and the ones I receive now I hold dear. My friends Doug and Cathy gave me two wrapped gifts for Christmas last year, and I have yet to open them. It's important to me to know that I still have two unopened gifts available.

Thus, I now suffer immeasurably on such occasions as my birthday. Again, that missing Sense of Self Worth could save me, I assume. But who wants to feel alone? I am grateful for the friends who do remember my birthday, definitely, but something bothers me. I do feel as if I'm moderately important to several people, yes. And a Child depends upon me, yes. But I am not the main focus of anybody's life now.

The Wise Answer to my problem is this: Become the main focus of your own life, Betty.


20 comments:

Loving Annie said...

Oh honey,

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Betty,
Happy Birthday to you -
and many more.... :)


I would call Ian's Mom and ask what the oversight was. Could the invitation have simply gotten lost in the mail, and maybe SHE thought YOU were rejecting her ?

I can't tell you how many things I was left out of as a child - and yes, it DOES hurt. I can so see hy your heart would break for Boy - and for yourself.

It SUCKS to be alone and to feel alone. It is NATURAL to want companionship with a man whose company you enjoy and could love and feel safe with.

I'd say been there/done that... AND at one point, I also realized that I really was NOT alone in the sense that I had friends and family who DID care for me, but that I was ignoring all that because ONE MAN was not in my life who I was emotionally focused on.

I ignored all the poeple who told me I mattered to them, in little or big ways, or who I had been kind to/possibly touched their lives in a way that mattered to them when THEY werre having a bad day...

I suspect, dear Betty, that your heart will hear this as well.
And perhaps when it sinks in, you will still feel alone, but not as much so...

Blessings and Hugs,

Loving Annie

Mary said...

Well..I for one wish you a very happy happy birthday..and an abundance of all things good in the year to come.

As for the little one being left out I do understand how you are feeling..try and remember people can be thoughless..and yes..even mean sometimes. So for whatever the reason..remember they are on the outter perimetters of your life. The important things you have.

Here's a thought..throw yourself a special dinner birthday party..invite the child. I can think of no one better to spend your dau with.

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

Thank you for the birthday song. And I am trying to gather the courage to ask Ian's mother what the deal is.

Today's the big, or not so big, day. It's been OK- mundane, but OK. 3 different friends called me, none of whom knew it was my birthday. I'm not alone.

Hugs,
Betty

Betty said...

Dear Mary,

Thanks for stopping by. And, yes, you're right, the snubbing people are on the outer perimeter anyway- it's not that big a deal.

I'm considering that special dinner with the child- it just might be my best option.

Hugs,
Betty

Loving Annie said...

Good Wednesday evening the 29th to ou, Betty !

I will post the blueberry pie recipe on Sunday afternoon :) !

Lisa said...

Betty!!

A belated, very, very, happy Birthday to you!! I know how important it is to feel that someone cares about you on your birthday. My mom was similar to yours, and I remember having the same feelings after she died (I was only 22).

As for your son's friend, I was thinking the same thing as Loving Annie...perhaps it was an oversight? If nothing happened between them, then there should be no reason why they're not inviting the child. And the fact that Ethan even KNEW that the child was not going to the party, but didn't know why, could mean that Ian's mom told Ethan's mom that the child wasn't going because she never heard from you. Although in that case, she really should've called you to verify. Who knows. Some parents have no empathy, and they are basically ignorant when it comes to the feelings of other kids. I hope everything works out in that situation since shcool starts next week.

Lisa said...

oops, I meant "school"

Betty said...

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for the birthday wishes. It was not your standard birthday, for sure. It pretty much went unnoticed and uncelebrated. I don't think people believe me when I say I'm alone.

Ethan knew about the child's lack of invitation only because I told him (he wanted to know if the child would be there). And Ian and the child have a strange history- last spring I had to call Ian's mother because Ian had made some very hurtful and demeaning comments to the child. So there was already tension between the 2 familes. I went out on a limb last spring by calling her, and it would be overkill, I think, to do it again now.

In my opinion, things were never satisfactorily resolved after that phone call. I cared a lot more than the other mother did. This is the unfortunate dilemma of the isolated single mother with no family. It is all too easy for me to present myself from a position of desperation, and that doesn't bring positive results. Rejection has become common in our lives, and none of the rejecting mothers have ever explained why.

Hugs,
Betty

Lisa said...

Betty,

I believe that I can comment from experience here, and I'm sure Simply Me can, as well.

I was a single mother when I moved into this very middle class, wonder bread neighborhood, and there were some people (mostly women) who were just not happy about that. Even though I knew I was "different", I made up my mind that I had just as much a right to be at a PTA meeting or a field trip as the next mom (who probably hated her husband and envied my situation anyway)! I was never lacking for neighborhood friends, because I refused to play that "different" role and did not concentrate on what other people had and what I didn't have. My kids had the weirdest situation of anyone they knew, and they were never lacking for friends because I refused to look at it as something bad, and I made lemons out of lemonade. And no, it's not easy...but it's not impossible, either! I did have to work a little harder to prove that I was just as "normal" as everyone else (whatever the definition of THAT is). And I kind of liked the fact that I could come and go as I pleased, and I also didn't mind the fact that I was the "token" single mom of the group! Until Maria (Simply Me) got divorced. And then there were two!

We were the two "singles". Every so often, we'd come in contact with another "single" in the school district. Betty, they're out there. You may not know it because you're not seeing someone who's as isolated and lonely as you are. It all begins with you...single motherhood is nothing new, you have to realize that. Every school has single mothers nowadays, and probably lots of 'em! They're just not concentrating on their differences...they're realizing their similarities. That's what you need to focus on. Who cares if you don't have a husband? If someone is jealous of you because you're single, then that's THEIR problem. Ian's mom sounds like a real pill. I'm sure that the child must have other friends who have much nicer moms! And remember: not all kids will get along. Friends will come and go.

My daughter had her first fistfight in the school hall with her used-to-be best friend whose mom I was friendly with. That was four months ago, and none of us had spoken since then. Last night, that young girl was in my kitchen with my daughter happily cooking dinner for all of us, her mom came in to visit, and we sat and had a glass of wine together! And yes, she's a "single"!

Betty, I know it's hard...but positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative. That's not just a theory found in "The Secret"...it goes back to biblical times! It's found in science! It's all over the place! I think you're looking for something, and you just can't put your finger on it. But it's right there in front of you every morning staring back in the mirror...it's YOU. You need to find Betty. And Betty is a great person and a wonderful mother (with fine decorating taste, besides...great colors in your home)! All you have to do is finally get to know her, and you'll see how fantastic she is, too!

CuriousC said...

Happy Birthday! Happy HAPPY YOU! From a fan...

Betty said...

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for your encouraging words based on your history with single motherhood. It's made me stop and think....
Hugs,
Betty

Betty said...

Dear Curiousc,

Thank you for stopping by and for commenting. Please come back!

Hugs,
Betty

simply me said...

Dear Betty - HAPPY HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!!
I just celebrated mine on Aug. 26 - marking the age of 45. My mother is 90 so I am exactly half her age. My mother has been "single" since my father left her at 50 for a much younger woman. He was waaayyy younger than my mom.
My mother is representative of how single women do survive with great dignity, zest and love. She raised a bunch of kids making very little money when most people didn't divorce. Heck, forget divorce, she didn't even marry my dad who was 20 years younger. She has embraced her life with a good sense of humor, love and gratitude. She reminds me that life is exactly what you make of it.
Many people hide behind pretenses of a "perfect" life, but we don't know what goes on behind those doors.
Don't isolate yourself behind what you believe are your deficiencies, you'd be surprised once you open yourself up how many people feel as lonely as you do.

Loving Annie said...

Good Tuesday evening September 4th to you, Betty ! Just came by to say hello and see what was doing with you and The Boy, and how your Labor Day weekend was --

Kacey said...

Oh, Dear Betty--- Even I --- one of your fans am a day late and a dollar short! I hope your birthday shaped up better than you expected. My birthday is a couple weeks after Christmas and nobody ever thinks of it, so I am used to it. For the child, junior high school is the pits, but he will become more discriminating in choosing friends as he gets older. For now, stop beating yourself over the head for society's shortcomings. Things will even out soon. Hugs and Happy Birthday!

Priyamvada_K said...

Dear Betty,
Belated birthday wishes. The flower, the decor and the picture - are beautiful!

Priya.
P.S: On your next birthday, I suggest you take the child out and have fun! Take yourselves to the zoo or rose garden, and have a picnic complete with chocolate cake if that's what you want. Or, do what makes you feel good - help someone, donate blood, whatever makes your day. Give yourself a present - the present - and don't worry about the past or the future.

Betty said...

Dear Simply me,

Your mother sounds like quite a character! I wished she lived near me and I could hang out with her- maybe her attitude would rub off!

Hugs,
Betty

Betty said...

Dear Kacey,

Welcome back!!!! It was soooo good to hear from you!!! You must be OK, I take it. I'm sorry to hear that we share birthday woes.

I'll remember your words "things will even out soon"- that'll be my mantra....

Many hugs,
Betty

Betty said...

Dear Priya,

I love what you said: "Give yourself a present- the present..."

That certainly rings true! Thank you!

Hugs,
Betty

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