Tim and I have officially instituted a new holiday – Birthing Day.
Twenty-seven years ago yesterday I gave birth. I know, I know, women do this every few seconds every single day, but I only did it once and it was the single most encompassing experience I have ever had so my birthing day is a big deal to me!
A lot of memories from twenty-seven years ago have faded, but that day…I remember the details with crystal clarity. While in labor I ate french fries at Denny’s. The child I birthed ten hours later – at 3:58am on September 11, was addicted to french fries when she was little. Sha shas, she called them. I got her a happy meal once when she was about a year old. It was halloween time and they were serving the happy meals in little orange plastic pumpkin buckets. For YEARS, every time we were in the car that little one wanted sha shas in her orange pumpkin bucket.
I still have the bucket.
But I digress…it is our custom to celebrate our birthdays as though they are our own. Each one of us, individually, is the special person on each person’s birthday. Makes sense. We are celebrating our advent into the world, celebrating the beginning of our life on earth. And more practically, for human chronilogical purposes, the day marks a chronological advancement for prosperity, history, medical records, etc.
But our birthday, as a celebration of our birth, isn’t exclusive to us. Think about it, not one of us can even remember the day. At all. Nada. Not one flash of a single piece of the experience. No, that particular day, your birthday, is embedded, detail by detail, in the mind of only one person – the person who actually did the work, who hurt, and cried, and loved beyond measure.
And so we have Mother’s Day. One day to celebrate all mothers? Or all births by one mother? As though all those miraculous moments, the pain and effort and fear and glory experienced by so many women are only worthy of one day of remembering? My mother went through the birthing process three times. She has three sets of detailed memories of the pain and glorious pleasure of bringing her own child into the world. And on those dates, do we remember her? Do we celebrate her?
I do, of course, or I probably wouldn’t have the awareness to write this. I do because one of my mother’s children died in a car accident in young adulthood. And on the date of his birth every year, I think of Mom’s pain – of all that she went through to birth that baby, to raise him, only to lose him in the prime of his life. I call her. We talk – sometimes only briefly – and all day I think of her remembering May 3, 1958 - remembering all of the details of birthing her first baby. Her birthing day.
Tim’s mother went through the process five times – twice in her forties. And she raised five honorable decent men. Two of them on her own after their father passed away. Five times. Those days are her days. She was the one who had the experience, the memories. She’s the one whose heart was engaged each of those days as she struggled to bring those babies into the world. She certainly deserves the celebration. A Birthing Day celebration.
And we proclaim it’s existence!
To give fact to fantasy, yesterday, in celebration of my birthing day, September 11, 1985, Tim and I celebrated. We had homemade Italian dinner, with bakery rolls, our favorite Riesling (Chateau St. Michelle) and we had birthing day cake. White, with white buttercream icing. The only kind the child I had would eat when she was little. And the only kind I like. Funny how it works that way…