You Say It’s My Birthday?

Another birthday has come and gone.

My children, God bless them, tried so hard.

All day, they squabbled incessantly trying to celebrate me. “No, I want to sit next to Mom!” “But it’s MY turn!” They shoved one another off the couch, and argued over who got to unwrap the presents they offered. The sunscreen. The stapler. The pancake mix.

There were the usual culinary efforts. Lizzie made me a box of macaroni and cheese, her favorite, and then she and Henry ate it themselves.

Katie measured the baking soda for the cupcakes and learned that “not all spoons are teaspoons.” The density of the puck-like cakes notwithstanding, this really was one of her better birthday confections. I much preferred it to the gluten-free pineapple upside-down porridge of a year ago.



This year, the children even gave me some alone time to write, journeying with their father to the 99 Cents Only Store. They returned with provisions for a new activity on the birthday agenda – Spa Time.

The basic rules are these:

1. Plunk Mom in the bathtub with her feet in a cold soak.

2. Slather her in cheap skin products.

3. Smile.

I am a person who eschews bottled fragrances. My children know this. I don’t favor perfumes, body sprays, or scented roll-on deodorants. Hand lotion makes me sweat. And I have never understood aromatherapy, unless is the actual real-life smell of cinnamon rolls or chocolate chip cookies. However, for tonight, my daughters had forgotten all that. And for tonight, I sucked it up. After all, it was my birthday present.

A sampling of the evening’s offerings included:

*Mango bubble bath

*Apricot facial scrub

*Coconut foot lotion

*Almond milk hand cream

*Lemon butter cuticle cream

*Mint chocolate lip balm

*And a lavender-scented eye mask.

My girls took turns applying all of it with a wash cloth that smelled like a moldy sock.

While Katie played aesthetician, Lizzie offered me a backrub she called the “poke and scratch.”

I hated every minute of it.

And I loved every minute of it.

Because even though my hands still itch from the horror the kids massaged into my palms, and my toenails are now painted hooker hot pink, for forty-five minutes, my daughters tried to pamper me, to say “We Love You, Mommy!” in the most indulgent way they could imagine. Somewhere beneath the sodium laureth sulfate and yellow number 5 was the admission that Mom’s days are stressful because of us. Tonight, because it was my birthday, they sought to give me ease.

It was a misery. And it was wonderful.