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Birthdays Are Worth Celebrating!

I was sitting talking to a friend of mine
recently when the subject of her upcoming birthday came up. I
pressed D to tell me what she’d like to do to celebrate her
big day, since I’d never been in the same town when her
birthday came up before. For a while she stalled and wouldn’t
tell me anything, but finally she said to me, “To be
completely honest, I’d really like to forget all about it and
just let it go by.”

That’s her right, of course, and if that’s truly what
she wants I respect that. But I can’t help contrasting that
with Mother’s Day – D has several children, and though
shy and not ever interested in being the center of attention, D was
willing to let her children take her out to lunch to celebrate her
motherhood, to tell her how much they appreciate her as a

Of course, it’s difficult to hide
Mother’s Day – everyone in the country knows when it
is, as opposed to your birthday which you can choose to tell people
about or not. So I know that avoiding celebrating Mother’s
Day is nigh on impossible. I can also understand a person’s
desire to avoid a celebration just for celebration’s sake:
there’s nothing more awkward than going to a party no one
wants to be at but everyone feels obligated to attend, and when my
birthday comes around I find myself worrying that people are going
to great lengths because they feel like they’re supposed to,
rather than because they want to.

But here’s the thing: I love birthdays, and love being able
to take a day to celebrate my friends every year. I love them so
much, in fact, and consider them so important, that though my
girlfriend Renee’s birthday was in June and I bought her
gifts by April, I have yet to send them to her. Why? Because I
rarely get more than five minutes at once to put a box together to
mail, and I’ll be chained to a chair and forced to listen to
Raffi for 24 hours before I send a crappy wrap job through the mail
to a good friend of mine. Twisted, but that’s how I am.

I illustrate my love of birthday celebrating to show that I know I
can’t be the only one out there who feels this way, which
means I simply have to trust on my birthday that people are doing
things out of joy rather than obligation. So I let them, and deep
down in my heart it makes me feel Really. Really. Good. To be worth
that much effort.

What does all this have to do with mommyhood? Back to my friend D.
She’s much more comfortable or willing to have her motherhood
celebrated than her individual self celebrated, and I wish I knew
how to help her change that. If I peel this onion way down to its
core, I might even say that to disregard a birthday is close to
sinful – it’s taking the day set aside to remember and
rejoice in the amazing, unique creation that God has made in you,
and saying that’s not worth celebrating. That’s tossing
aside something unique, that will never be made again, and that God
clearly thought was worth making in the first place. Not just
because God needed you to be a mother, D, though that’s
definitely part of it. But God would love you and want to celebrate
you even if you’d never had children. And since God is a
relational God, and we – especially women, I think –
are the relational face of God here, then it’s up to us to
celebrate on God’s behalf the wondrous day that He called you
into being! Mommies can easily get “hidden” under the
mommy label, consumed by the job title, until we think that’s
all that is worth celebrating in us, that it’s what defines
us. And I respectfully disagree.

And one more point, D, and I’ll let it go. A few months ago
you had a very nice party to celebrate your anniversary, so I am
grateful you allowed friends and family to get together for that,
to recognize the great marriage you’ve crafted over the
years. But here again, you were a part of something, a label
– a team rather than a mommy, but still not having to stand
on your own and be celebrated for who you are. I worry that you
think your works, your net result of your life – your kids,
your marriage – are worth celebrating, but not you yourself.
And that’s just wrong.

So D, I’ll respect your decision, especially since I think
you mean it and aren’t doing some sort of passive-aggressive
kind of way. But I’d like you to reconsider your choice, and
think that maybe you are worth a small cake or so.

Not for anything you do, or any label you wear. Just for being


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