Birthday

On why I hate Mother's Day

When I was told Dario’s due date was January 1, I got very excited. What a terribly auspicious date to be born. I felt the pressure. Could I control my body enough to time his birth [The answer: absolutely not]? Could he even be the first baby of the year [LOL Nope]? What a story that would be [LOL you dumb bitch].

Could we go back in time just far enough for his birthday to be 1-1-11? That would be funny. I actually had an abortion around that time, but it would be funny if of the four trillion to one odds, I had Dario on a differently auspicious date. Could’ve been 11-11-11, or…more likely 9-11-11. Eek. In an age of astrological frenzy, I wonder if telling a prospective parent the potential due date of a zygote would influence their decision to keep or terminate a pregnancy. “Ooh, you mean I might have a Capricorn? Then yes, I will keep. It.” Nope.

My birthday is a few days after mother’s day most years. This meant nothing to me growing up of course. It just means that I am a May baby. But without prescribing too much to the notion of astrological personality, I do find it interesting that I have gravitated heavily toward friendship with other May babies. I am surprised that this was the case as a child and remains the case as I make friends in my 30s and now 40s—truly not by design. And yet unlike my September friends, none of us May babies want to hold joint birthday parties. Each of us usually has to have their own event: dinner, drinks, an outing.

For about a decade leading up to the Pandemic, I’d had to be on book tours during my birthday, because of book festival season (R.I.P.). I would listen to my creative partner Graham call his mom from our hotel room, no doubt stressed I was within earshot of his tender greetings. I’d hear colleagues complain that being away from home during Mother’s Day made them unpopular with female partners. My principal complaint was that I’d have to spend my birthday effectively performing customer service, which felt specifically insulting. This made it so I was statistically unlikely to enjoy whatever birthday celebrations did ensue, as I was either at the mercy of well-wishers who did not know me intimately, or by the time I would get to party with those who did, I was too depleted from having lived in the skin of other writers for weeks. A birthday is a tremendous ego opportunity, and to be wearing an author’s ego suit for days leading up to becoming yourself is super dangerous.

I have stopped touring, but what also happened in tandem with the pandemic was that I became a mother, and for the past few years, birthday greetings have dovetailed with mother’s day praises. I am fascinated with the idea of being feted for transitive and intransitive birth in such a tight span of time: I gave birth, and was born.

I fucking hate Mother’s Day. I hate it anyway but I hate what we’ve done with it, I hate how much pressure it puts on you to acknowledge me as a mother, I hate being called a mother like that makes me some kind of goddess, and I really hate having to think about Mother’s Day in the same breath of my birthday. I punish the flowers I receive on that second weekend of May, by placing them under the direct hazard of the Sun these blooms worship. There’s your goddess.

I like birthdays, and more specifically I really enjoy a good birth date. Auspicious, ironic or otherwise numerologically peculiar birthdays all delight me. Even ironic birth dates. My Jewish friend whose birthday is December 25 made jokes about being chosen. I have a Japanese chef friend who loves making adult osechi dinner for January 1 because that’s her birthday and it’s her favorite kind of celebration food. A couple friends whose birthdays are on September 11, who for years avoided celebration but now think it’s hilarious to say nine-eleven hyuk hyuk when asked when their birthdays are (humor=tragedy+time). I know two people (two!) born on February 29. One of them died a few years ago in his 70s but we were continuously tickled that he was actually 18 every year. I know a couple people who don’t know their real birth dates (one due to a clerical SNAFU and the other a suspicious adoption) and had to make something up. Isn’t that something?

I think I’d like to keep my astrological schedule (I like being aTaurus) and distance myself just from Mother’s Day. I will move it to the second week of June, for example. Celebrate my birth on Father’s Day, with a nonfiction book, comfortable socks and a necktie I dare not use to choke myself.