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16th Apr 2023

Musings: They don’t warn you how emotional your kids’ birthdays are

Laura Cunningham

I spent most of the day in tears

I’ve never been a big birthday person. It seems a funny thing to celebrate… ‘Congratulations on staying alive for another year! Here’s your parade…’

That is until I had a baby. Now the words ‘birth day’ carry much more weight.

So much so that I was, emotionally, all over the place when my son turned two.

“What the hell was wrong with me?”

There was nothing wrong – quite the opposite in fact. Although we’ll celebrate with family at the weekend, yesterday I kept him home from creche so we could have some birthday fun – just the two of us.

We went swimming, had McDonald’s and went to the playground. It wasn’t perfect, but he laughed all day and went to bed a happy boy – that’s all I ever want.

So what the hell was wrong with me?

Going to bed the night before, my brain was awash with memories about where I was and how I felt (mostly sore!) that time, two years ago. I stared at his little cheeks, amazed by him. So much has happened, so quickly.

I’ve just about gotten used to the idea of having a baby and now, this little person is emerging before my eyes. One who speaks in a way that often only I can understand. One who makes silly faces to make me laugh and one who has become great company.

I wept thinking about how far we’ve come and about how proud I am of him, and of me I guess. Seeing him excitedly open presents and knowing that he has a whole life of parties and happiness ahead of him brought on this weird reverse nostalgia I found hard to get my head around.

Everything felt huge yesterday. His bath was a birthday bath and his nap was a birthday nap. It was all special, the way I now realise birthdays should be.

I admitted to my friends how tearful I was feeling and they reassured me they are always the same, every year.

Not one of them thought to mention this to me before.

So this is me telling you – if you’re still pre-birthdays – prepare for waterworks when the time comes.