Sunday, 4 October 2009

Tongues in cheeks a.k.a Happy Birthday

Tomorrow is my son’s birthday. We were supposed to be having a small, relaxed affair at my parent’s house (mainly because my flat is too shitty and small and I can’t be arsed to the housework).

So, I went to their house today to bake the cake and prepare food. I’m chopping vegetables and say casually to my mother. “Am I supposed to be sending him a birthday card?” She looks at me with her tongue lodged firmly in the bottom half of her left cheek (for those of you that don’t know my mother, this is her ‘incensed’ look.) Anyone would think I had just suggested injecting my son with heroin as his first birthday present. It’s like she was so shocked she couldn’t even speak.

“You’re not sending your son a card on his first birthday?” she asks with incredulity.

“He can’t read.” I say, stating the obvious.

“Are you expecting us to send him one, or anybody else?” she says.

“Well, I know you will.” I say to her “But surely the cards are for my benefit, not his? It’s so that I know people are acknowledging his birthday. Surely? Did you send one to me on my first birthday?” I say, and as the words are still being spoken I already know the answer.

“Of course we did!” she says, followed with, “That poor boy, no card from his own mother.”

“He’s not going to know!” I say to her “He’s one!”

“How do you know?” she says, totally upping the absurdity of the conversation.

“What do you mean?” I say, “Do you think he’s going to look through his cards and wonder why his parents haven’t sent him one?”

This crazy conversation continues and I, considering my inadequacies as a mother, start thinking about where I can get a card from. Maybe I should make one? Stay up all night to produce a masterpiece and then…… I picture myself opening and reading a card, basically to myself, that I, myself, wrote. It’s plainly a fucking ridiculous idea.

I love my son and a “Happy Birthday you’re 1” card won’t prove that any more than the fact that he has clean hair, a full stomach and gets his nappy changed regularly. Frankly, it's little surprise that he made it to his first birthday as he's been cosseted, pampered and doted upon for the last 365 days. I think I was the one who had the tough job, actually. Maybe we should be celebrating my "Thank god you made it through the first year unscathed" party?

In a very short space of time my son will be fully aware that it is his birthday. So just for the first year can we say ‘Happy Birthday’ in hushed tones, please?


  1. I'm with you on this one. We didn't get a birthday present for our little boys 2nd birthday (is so close to Christmas, we were broke, it wasn't like he needed any more plastic tat or small cars for me to stand on). He was pretty happy with a big old cake.

    Congrats on making it through one year. I have one friend who is convinced that the entire purpose of first year birthday parties is to provide a setting in which good middle class mummies feel it is ok to introduce their organically fed offspring to cake and sugar. The fun is in watching the resulting sugar kick in the small people!

  2. In Holland they do actually congratulate the parents, the brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and grandparents of the birthday boy or girl. Which is fine but as the mum I want to know what anyone else has done to deserve all the praise that is rightfully mine?

    I've put you up as British Blogging Mum of the week, by the way...

  3. Hey there. Just visiting from BMB and wanted to say I hear you loud and clear on this subject.
    I had this same discussion with my MIL over son's first Christmas (which came when he was 3 weeks old).
    'You're not buying him a present? For his first Christmas?' (I was buying him books wrapped in tissue paper which he loved to scrunch).
    'Isn't that a bit mean? Don't you feel like you're depriving him?'
    HE'S ONLY WEEKS OLD! He'll probably love the wrapping paper more than any gift he's given!

  4. OMG, this is so funny. Mine will turn one in April next year, and now that I read your post, I am going to prepare a birthday wishlist for ME ME ME! You should feel rather smug about making it that far. We all know it's damn hard work. Happy celebrations!

  5. Just popped over from Potty Mummy. Good choice by her. Great blog. Yep, I had the same thoughts about cards and presents for both of mine up to the age of 2. Don't think we actually bought anything for them ourselves - everyone else did that for us. You're right - he'll never know!

  6. Thanks Potty Mummy. I didn't even know that there was a British Blogging Mummy of The thanks very much. Thanks also to Fraught Mummy and Sticky Fingers for the comments. I'm sozzled, as one should be after her son's first birthday (cooked everything, ate nothing) and visiting your sites as I speak. xxx

  7. Over here from Potty Mummy's blog and nice to meet you!
    I had the same dilemna for both my boys first bdays. You see in France where I am from we don't do cards. We do Happy New Year cards and Happy Birthday cards but your parents would never send you one if they are sitting with you at the event. It is more for the relatives living far away. So when I arrived in the UK I was in shock at the range of cards you can find here. My sister in law probably keeps Clintons in the stock exchange. She sends a card for EVERYTHING! and one from her kids and one from her and husband. I am surprised she doesn't send one from the dog...

  8. I have always been a bit pants at sending my own kids birthday cards. I didn't think they payed much attention. But this summer, when we were card shopping for a friend, they chose and bought their own birthday cards, which was a bit of a slap in the face. Note to self: you CAN get away with it when they are one. But not 4 and 6 apparently.

  9. I agree, actually until about 5 I think the Mums should get the congrats ( gifts and treats would be nice too);)

  10. Visiting from Potty Mummys Blogger of the Week - which is a nice pressie for you to have received! Birthday's always cause some form of disagreement with grandparents - the card is usually only the start of it! Glad to hear you got stuck into the booze anyway - good on ya!