Like the Queen, I now seem to have two birthdays. The real, a day just like any other, and the official, on which I open cards and presents and we celebrate. For the last couple of years, the real — full of kids and routine, with B at work from very early to very late — has been a slightly sorry affair. But this year it was lovely. A sweet birthday note from T outside my bedroom door when I got up. Friends for coffee & cookies, all unaware of my birthday. Lunch with the Pip Pop. School pick-up, twice. A couple of chapters of ‘The Borrowers Afloat’. Then the usual rush of ballet class & tea. Pizza and the first episode of ‘The Killing 3‘ with B. Simple but lovely. It’s always reassuring when you actually enjoy your own real life.
It helped that I’d taken the precaution of buying plenty of presents to myself. Then on Saturday, my official birthday, I felt very guilty when it turned out that B had also bought me plenty of lovely presents. (When we were little — which, at 20, we really were when we met — some years we would exchange birthday or Christmas presents and some years we wouldn’t. There was no system, no pressure, no way of knowing in advance. These days, we tend to do birthdays, if only because the little ones like it, and it seems good to show them that we like presents too.)
Our newest tradition is ‘birthday treats’ for grown-ups. Back in January, B chose our local science centre; this time I chose the zoo. There were complaints about how unfair it is that only we get birthday treats. I countered with the fact that we don’t get parties. I wonder how long it will take them to figure out that we choose treats that they will love. ‘Well, you’re having a lovely time, Mumma, because your favourite thing is being out on an adventure with all of us!’ said the Moose. And he was right.