Interlude: Birthdays

Day 59. Don’t expect any writing updates this weekend.

Today’s Toop’s birthday. And while it would be completely inaccurate to say I hope she doesn’t have a good day – of course I hope she has a good day, because I hope all her days are good, because I love her more than my life – I suppose that has brought me to an interesting realisation.

Now I realised this before – as a matter of fact it was the first big realisation that hit me the moment I first looked down at Wump’s face. I realised that these two girls, in a best-case scenario and if everything goes right, will outlive me by a significant margin. They will be breathing air and walking this Earth long after I am dead and gone. If I outlive them, there has been a tragic fuck-up.

But that brings me to the subject of birthdays, and something I have only come to realise now that I am a father, that I never really suspected before. I never expected this to be one of those things I learned after becoming a parent, and it might just be me. But I know at least one reader of this blog who will always be excited to hear me admit to things I did not know before, that I have learned only since becoming a father[1]. So here it is. Something I have learned, realised, or otherwise arrived at.

[1] Not that I ever said I knew everything, and on the contrary I have always said there have to be things that I would learn and change my mind about. And this isn’t really one of those things, it’s just an interesting and unexpected one I found out about myself. And maybe you figured this out before becoming a parent, or you know it already and you’re not a parent. All equally valid points. I’m just saying this is when I realised it.

I’ve always considered birthdays to be one of those fun things – good to have, a nice way to give gifts and lavish a bit of attention on someone you care about. It’s like an annual refresh-cycle on a friendship or a romance or a family relationship, a way of defragmenting the previous year of run-of-the-mill interactions and saying “hey, you. I like you this much,” and holding your hands up approximately a birthday-present-sized distance apart.

Plus, of course, it’s an excuse to have a party.

But my kids? It’s different. I can’t do it. I mean, I can do it, and I enjoy doing it, for the same reasons as above – but it’s different. And I’m beginning to realise that the way we felt about our birthdays when we were kids, and the way our parents handled it, was in a way the biggest gift they gave the entire day.

Because for me, every single day is my girls’ birthdays. I feed them and bathe them and play with them and give them gifts and hugs and tell them how much I love them. A birthday? You mean I have to give more than 100%? Not possible.

This came to me first when I tried to make birthday cards for Wump. I make birthday cards for my inner core of family and occasionally friends, but when I sat down to make a card for Wump that first time, I realised it was too much. What I felt could not go into a card. So instead I started to make her a story book. I’m still working on it, a page at a time, year in and year out. I made one for my nieces a few years before (I might post it sometime, and might even write them a new instalment one day), and it seemed right.

But even that was too difficult. It felt like I was selling short, crapping out and just giving a best-effort “meh” attempt at expressing something so big.

Birthdays? You had a birthday every day for the past three hundred and sixty-five days. But okay. Let’s do this. Cake is good, and I love you. That’s literally all I’ve got.

So, that’s it for today. In other news, and for my blogging regulars, please note that the paperback of Drednanth is available already here. I set it to propagate into Amazon as soon as possible on or around the 1st of March, but it is available here, now. You’re welcome. I know this was a quiet ittle afterthought-note, but I’ll make a bigger fanfare once it’s all up and stable. For now though, this is just a bonus for actually reading.

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2 Responses to Interlude: Birthdays

  1. JonathanBloom says:

    It’s not too late to convince the youngest that birthdays are when the person being celebrated gives gifts to the people around them.

    Also, as someone whose dad repeatedly forgets what day her birthday is, one day they’re going to realize how awesome it is that you remember the day they were born. And/or knows how to use a calendar.

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