… so when the people from my past (coworkers, former bosses, college friends, etc) texting me birthday greetings, I shed more tears than I would have let on.
Here I am today, turning 33, sitting in a corner of my bedroom eating my birthday pasta, one that I order from nearby restaurant and taste so so, alone. Close from where I sit, there’s a torn pink birthday gift wrapping paper with butterflies and fan-shaped like ornaments, along with a red greeting card, folded into heart shape that my husband and kids made for me.
He knows I like dark chocolate. The very dark one, bitter with a faint hint of sweetness. The taste of it is just like life, for every unfortunate events, trials and tribulations we experience, there is always something to fondly hold on to. Like that faint sweetness of dark chocolate.
After subuh prayer he hugged me and gave me a prayer. Afterwards, he reads Al Quran as usual, we talked a little, and then he fell asleep. When the kids have woken up they all gathered in our bedroom and handed me the birthday gift with a heartfelt writing on the heart shaped greeting card. I was teary eyed reading the card. We all hugged and took picture, then we went into the usual morning routine: kids were showering, breakfast were prepared, my husband off to work, kids went online schooling, et cetera.
And then I was alone. Husband and kids were busy with their own activity.
And then I feel left out.
I know that celebrating birthdays is neither a Muslim tradition nor a family tradition of mine. I like to think of it as my special day. That dedicated day in which I can treat myself and unwind. Let’s face it, everyday activities, be it working or managing household are consuming, and often times I am bound into keeping up with this routine that I forget to pay attention to myself.
I built my birthday routine at work. Acted coolly and pretended to be shocked whenever my coworkers gave me a surprise birthday cake, and then left for a long lunch at Pakuwon Mall: visited Periplus, picked two or three books that I liked and then sat into one of my favorite restaurant. Ordered the same menu just like the year before and anytime I wanted to unwind: a truffle pasta and a glass of lychee tea. Opened up the plastic wrap of the books that I bought while waiting for my meal. Ate my lunch slowly. Took the longer road to drive home, watched the city lit up in the evening. Enjoyed the moment.
Not that I am ungrateful for the gift that Allah SWT has given me, that is my husband and kids… but I was expecting a day that’s different than the usual. I feel very exhausted and restless since the kids are studying at home. It is a different kind of stress than office work and I am still trying to adapt. I want a day off for myself. I have my expectations built up since days ago.
I had planned it in my head, that I was gonna have chinese food delivered for the meal, with a special Mie Ulang Tahun. I wanted that classic style mocca nougat cake, the one that tasted like Maison Benny’s followed by a long drive around the city and then ordered books from Periplus just as usual. I wanted a quality time with my husband, sans the kids. Hey, we didn’t even have our honeymoon yet.
For Day’s birthday I cooked him a bunch of meals that he requested. At Dil’s birthday I ordered pizza, cooked Mie Ulang Tahun and a custom green birthday cake. For Dza, she had her double birthday cake. I made an apple galette on my husband’s birthday. I like being extra for special occasions. My friends know that.
He should have known I enjoy grand gestures.
But then I remembered the many little things he did for me. Helped my with breakfast prep and dishes, we took turns in helping the kids’ homework, gave me that satisfying back massage after a long day, how he let me slept in whenever that time of the month came because I was always feeling unwell and I did not have to do subuh prayer, and many more I can think of.
Perhaps I did not spread the cookie crumbles enough for him to take the hint. Perhaps, we just have different concept about this. Marriage is a constant adjustment anyway. Whatever happened today is a lesson for tomorrow. I think that this is a divine reminder for me to understand that not everything should go my way, that in marriage we must do adjustments and find middle ground each and every time. That elaborate surprises and romantic gestures (like all the romcom I like to watch) mostly belong for women. *grin*
Nevertheless, I am grateful to Allah SWT, albeit everything, this is a dream coming true. My husband, along with the kids are the greatest gift that I have ever received. Dreams really do come true, no matter how random it may seem!