Today is my wife’s birthday.
We won’t do anything that we used to do to celebrate.
There’s no travel, so we can’t go to a beach (unless we’re in Florida, apparently). There’s no congregating, so we can have a party. We can’t go roller skating, we can’t go to a The Baxter or Boxcar, we can’t even go out to eat.
And the one thing we can do (get together online for a virtual party) is the last thing Maya wants to do.
We are all on Zoom calls all day! No one wants to do another one to celebrate!
I’ve seen so many people struggle with their thoughts and feelings about turning whatever age during this crisis, and how they never pictured spending their birthdays like this.
But this is our new normal.
Two weeks ago, it was our daughter Bellamy’s birthday. Next month, it’ll be Mother’s Day. The following month, it’ll be my birthday. And so on, and so on.
So what do we do?
Well, what I tried to do — even though I hate that she has to spend her 35th birthday this way — is focus on what really matters to that person.
I kept it simple, but meaningful.
I started with birthday cards from our daughter and me and cooking breakfast for her. I planned on waffles, but when she woke up she said she wanted french toast.
So she got it.
There aren’t any stores open right now for cool gifts, so I got her a gift card to one of the only ones open (which happens to be her all-time favorite): Target.
Her back has been hurting her for the past six weeks and no massage therapists are open.
So this afternoon, I am going to set up a mock massage table and give her a 60 minute massage that will probably give me carpal tunnel syndrome, but I’ll never let her know.
Then, I ordered a fancy dinner from a local restaurant and a fancy cake from a local bakery.
I tipped well for them both, as they are struggling businesses and they have to deliver it.
And we will feast and share our love together as a family.
Our daughter will still probably cry at some point and I will try to make sure Maya doesn’t have to even move to deal with it.
But she probably will anyway, because like any good mom (even on their birthdays), it’s always more about her child than it is her.
We will enjoy our cake and maybe some ice cream and that will be it.
It will be small and simple.
But it will be full of love.
I got her something she likes (gift card to her favorite store), something she needs (a good deep tissue massage), and something we love to share together (good food!).
Of course I wish I could do more for her. I always want to.
But birthdays aren’t about what you do, it’s about how you do it.
And if you do it with total love and gratitude for the person you are happy was born into this world, then I think you’re doing it the right way.
Rain Bennett is a two-time Emmy-nominated filmmaker, writer, and competitive storyteller with over a decade of experience producing documentary films that focus on health and wellness. His mission is simple: to make the world happier and healthier by sharing stories of change.
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