Yesterday I was talking to a lady on a film set. When I told her that it was my son's eleventh birthday, she said, 'Happy Birthing Day' to me. I didn't quite understand what she meant at first, but then I thought about it and realised that even though her greeting sounded strange, it actually made lots of sense.
We give our children presents on their birthdays and make a fuss of them because it was the day they were born. This is a passive element of birth. After all, the only thing they did was emerge from the womb and kicked up a fuss. Years after that, all they did was demand food, take up all our attention and cost us money. But we love them endlessly and without reserve.
On the other hand, the 'birthday' of a child requires much more from a mother. She labours in agony as her body twists and writhes in pain. She pushes what feels like her guts out for hours on end to bring forth her baby into the world. For her troubles, her body changes for the worse from that day forward and deteriorates progressively with every successive baby. Yet, every year on this anniversary, she gets none of the credit. Maybe we should rethink this whole birthday thing. Maybe it's us mums who should be told, 'Happy Birthing day' and have a cake baked for us.
Yesterday, eleven years ago, my body went through trauma giving birth to a beautiful baby boy. The birth was so painful, I vowed never to have another child. Ever! This baby boy is now a massive eleven year old, 5' 3" tall, with the brain of an eight year old. We love him to bits. He was thrilled to have presents and attention on his birthday. He didn't get a Kelley Blue Book. He's too young for this, after all (Perhaps in about 8 years). And his mum, the one who got saddled with all this labour of love, stood on the sidelines ignored, cheering him on.
And, in case you're wondering. We did have another child after him. :-)