Another birthday, another day closer to death

Image courtesy of The Suburban Crab archives

Image courtesy of The Suburban Crab archives

Someone once told me that you never feel as old as when your kids celebrate another birthday.

Well, Boof just turned 15 on Friday. Imagine how I’m feeling now.

That sense of speeding toward your death doesn’t hit you those first couple of kid birthdays. You just feel joy and wonder: I can’t believe he’s turning 1! Or: She’s 2 today! She’s such a big girl!

But suddenly, your child turns 7, say, and you realize they’re no longer your “little” boy or “little” girl. They’re just… a kid. A bona fide kid, with no other qualifying labels around it.

Their birthdays start to take on a bittersweet quality: You’re simultaneously proud that your child is reaching this new milestone and flabbergasted about where all those years have gone. It feels surreal. Seriously, you think, my kid can’t possibly be 10! Or 12. Or… 15.

The mind boggles.

My apologies to Billup, but it’s particularly poignant when it’s your firstborn’s special day. Because when your firstborn celebrates his birthday, he’s reached an age that you’ve never experienced before with any of your kids. It’s not just a milestone for him; it’s a milestone for you.

Which may be why, as much as last week saw me wistfully scrolling through my sepia-tinted memories of When Boof Was Just a Little Boy, it also bore witness to my genuine excitement as I lit 15 candles on my son’s ice cream cake.

I can’t say I’m at all prepared for the dating, drinking, drugs or whatever other teenage rituals we may soon have to face. In nine months, the child will be allowed to start driving, of all things. (Incidentally, have you noticed how many bad things in life start with the letter “D”? Death, dismemberment, dandruff, dieting… )

But let’s face it: Even though we all claim not to, no parent can prevent themselves from living vicariously through their kids just a little bit. And the experiences of a 15-year-old are gonna be a doozy.

One day during my first job out of college, I overheard my boss talking to her father on the phone. It was apparently my boss’s birthday. “Did you ever think you’d have a daughter who’s 35 years old, Daddy!?” she chirped.

At the time, my 22-year-old self couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of a person talking to, much less still having, a parent at the age of 35. Now, I’m hurtling toward a reality where I’m going to be the parent in that scenario. It makes me want to vomit.

Thank goodness I have plenty to keep my mind off that particular milestone. Did I mention Billup is turning 12 in a couple of months? The mind truly boggles.

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4 thoughts on “Another birthday, another day closer to death

  1. Ugh. For me it’s certain songs. In particular, “Don’t You Forget About Me” from the Breakfast Club. Because I grew up in the 80s, with that movie and it seemed SO timely and RIGHT on and now…….it just seems OLD. Every time I hear that song I think, HOLY SHIT, I AM OLD. I really liked this post.

    • Thank you! In terms of songs, I had created a “Classic Rock” channel on Pandora the other day, only to discover that all the songs they were playing seemed suspiciously like the ones I heard when I was growing up. I spent the entire next day complaining to my husband, “Isn’t Classic Rock supposed to be music from the ’60s!?”

  2. This is so poignant and so funny! The birthdays just keep coming and they mean something different in our lives every year. And by the way, I love the picture of the 15-shaped pancakes!!

    • Thanks! Pancakes: Ted’s doing, not mine. If I had been in charge of the boy’s b-day breakfast, it would’ve been a bowl of cereal or, if I’d wanted to really go all out, I would’ve sent Ted to McDonald’s to get a “special” breakfast!

      Still weird to think the boys are this old, though, isn’t it?

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