My 32nd birthday came and went despite my best efforts to have it planned. There were intentions to make good use of the company’s staff “birthday leave” benefit by spending it with the 3 boys, with hopes that we would end the night over dinner and drinks, couple style.
But of course, the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.
The husband had to cancel his leave last minute. We didn’t have any couple time nor dinner/drinks. No serenading of birthday song at the stroke of 12 midnight unlike past years because the workaholic husband was busy typing away while beside me (and I ended up waiting till I fell asleep). There wasn’t any flowers presented in the husband’s signature unromantic style – direct from the cold room, complete with crumpled plastic wrapping and price tag – making it the 4th year of disappointment. And no birthday wishes from the husband…until the next morning when he noticed that I was not getting ready for work alongside him because…ah yes, wife’s birthday!
But if there’s anything that I’ve learnt in the past 2 years since entering the 30s and embracing the many life hacks that I’ve been reading about, it’s that my response and attitude to any situation can still change an outcome.
With the husband dropping out of my birthday plans, I quickly made alternative arrangements to catch up with some friends whose company I dearly missed. Few text messages later, they were gamed for a birthday breakfast catch up!
It was really nice doing a proper, albeit short catch-up with these 2 super moms sans the kids. We laughed and chatted over our plates of hearty breakfast and the ladies surprised me with cakeeee! Thanks LY & May!
With nothing else planned after birthday breakfast session, I decided to go with the flow. Had the intention to pamper either the tresses or the face but slots were fully booked till after CNY. Hence I spent the noon (finally) getting the boys’ CNY outfits before heading back to snuggle up with both little ones in the afternoon. Sure, this wasn’t my planned “cake session with the kids”, but lying in bed and covering them with smooches and cuddles turned out to be just as enjoyable.
I knew how much Liam’s been wanting to go for a train ride and was about to take everyone out to my aunt’s place for a home cooked Japanese dinner when a salon called me to ask if I was keen to exercise my birthday discount/session (and according to my friend, they’re always fully booked) because there was a last minute cancellation. Tempted to make last hurrah out of my birthday, I jumped at the offer. It turned out to be such a bad idea.
I ended up being so late for family dinner at my aunt’s place and also found out that another aunt who flew in from Japan few days ago to visit us was flying back that very night. Yikes. I didn’t realise that my appointment would overrun and me not being able to access my phone during the session sent mom into a frantic panic.
I felt so guilty and absolutely terrible, being such a doofus. Thankfully the husband was there to pick me, and did his best to rush us to bid my aunt farewell. We made 3 wrong turns which caused us to be delayed by a further 15 mintues because…you know what rushing x tension does to one’s brain, and when we finally reached my aunt’s place, I profusely apologised for my foolishness and felt even worse when I saw that my family had baked me a birthday cake and intended to surprise me with it!
For all the anxiousness I put my family through to wait for me, they continued to shower me with utmost generosity, love, kindness and forgiveness instead of anger, frustration and impatience. How blessed was I to be born into such a God-fearing and wonderful family!
On the way home, in my final hour of birthday, it got me reflecting. While my 32nd birthday celebration didn’t go as planned, it turned out to be heartwarming, authentic and heartfelt. Through social media and WhatsApp, I was moved by how many bothered to send across birthday wishes. Through meet-ups, I discovered wonderfully surprising people who amazed me. Through family and friendships, I saw my closest relationships deepen. Through time with myself, I embraced my limitations by making peace with situations beyond my control and became comfortable with the uncomfortable.
I may be one year older, with more weight gain, more laugh lines, more wrinkles, more eye bags, more dark eye circles, more grey hairs and unfortunately lesser sleep (my grandma tells me that at age 78, she can only sleep for 4 hours at a go before wanting to wake for a bit). But I love who I am and the stage of life that I’m at now. Rough but absolutely fulfilling.
Thank you to every one who was part of my 32nd birthday celebration. You made me feel loved and cherished.