Two Simple Words


As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here ( Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).

Do you want people to wish you a Happy Birthday (when they know it’s your birthday)?

Simba - Happy Birthday

I do. Is that childish? Unreasonable? Silly?

My left brain, logical, rational mind says, “Of course it is. Grow up!” But then, my emotional half of the brain says, “No! I mean, what the heck, we go nuts — crazy, out of control, over the top — on kids’ birthday parties and we don’t even wish each other good wishes on the anniversaries of our births? What’s that about?!”

Time article about $38K kids birthday parties

There’s a real imbalance there. I mean I’ve been known to throw my share of fun parties for kids. So, I’m not knocking the parties. I’m just saying that I think parents could help each other out a little bit if they would just show some thoughtfulness and kindness toward each other, even when (or maybe especially when) they know that the person to whom they’re extending the greeting is over 30. Maybe we make those middle ages feel older by letting go of the joy and celebration that surround the birthday parties of childhood.

Here’s what started this little train of thought.

In past years, with more than a handful of people, I’ve experienced something like this:

I send an email telling someone that I can’t meet to discuss some volunteering obligation (for the kids) because it’s my birthday. In response, I get nothin’.

No, “Well, I hope you have a good day.”

No, “Happy birthday, girlfriend!”

No, “Oh, no problem, I wouldn’t want to meet that day, either.”

Grumpy Old Women

Not even those two little words, Happy Birthday.

Sure, I’ve sometimes been told that I have too much of a Pollyanna attitude toward life, (what some consider to be an annoyingly positive, silly and cheerful disposition). But I don’t think wishing people who are over 30 or 40 a Happy Birthday is immature or offensive.

Hmmm. On second thought…

Maybe that’s not it at all…

Is it that some people don’t want to even think about their birthday when they’re over 40? So they don’t want to touch the topic at all? Are they afraid of somebody grumbling back at them? What? Enlighten me, please. Gosh, if that’s the case, then…well…I feel sad for them. Who says we have to stop enjoying life at a certain age? Why? Where’s the logic in that? That can’t be healthy. Who knows where that might lead…

1993 Warner Image - - imdb - Grumpy Old Men

Grumpy Old Men (1993)

Notice that I’m not saying anything at all about materialistic goods. I’m not saying that I want my friends and family to purchase the latest must-have handbag or some blingy piece of jewelry. That’s not at all what I’m talking about. It’s about kindness and consideration. Thoughtfulness and sincerity that’s simple and instinctive.

For example, when I went into a store (on my birthday) with my son to select little trinkets to include in his favor bags for his birthday party, he saw something that he thought I would like for my birthday, so he said, “Mom, you should get that…for your birthday. C’mon, it’s your birthday!” A very nice woman overheard him and turned to me and said, “It’s your birthday? Well, Happy Birthday! Yes, you should get that for yourself!” My son and I both smiled and thanked her and as we walked away, he said, “Wow. That was so nice!”

Two simple words.

What a difference. Physically, I felt lighter and stood taller. My thoughts turned to more positive, happy places. I felt grateful for that stranger’s kindness and those two words.

Now I make a point of keeping track of people’s birthdays and wishing them well on their day (unless, of course, they make it clear that they’d rather not be reminded). To each his own. Right?

Well, whenever it’s your birthday, this one’s for you:


Images from Google Images. Oh, and by the way, it’s not my birthday.



Filed under family, personal, Thoughts

9 responses to “Two Simple Words

  1. Well Happy Birthday when it *is* your birthday, then!

    Keep rockin’ the blog!



    [Thanks! You, too! 🙂

    — bmgmom]

  2. I’m in my 50’s and I LOVE having a birthday — it’s the one day in the year when I get to make everyone pay homage to me.

    I would never dream of wishing you anything but a happy birthday on your special day. 🙂


    [Thanks, Donna!

    — bmgmom]

  3. This is a tough one for me and I don’t want to weight down your comments with a depressing answer, but you did ask. 🙂

    For my wife and I our birthdays mean very little. We could not care less if they are recognized because they traditionally have never been. I’m not exaggerating. It is what it is. Next month I celebrate my 37th birthday and I cannot think of one time in the last 22 years that my mother has said happy birthday on this day. Occasionally I hear from one sister. The other four siblings I have talked with less than five times in as many years. Friends don’t recognize our birthdays because we don’t make a big deal out of it. I would bet that most of them don’t even know when the birth date is.

    With all that said we go to great lengths to recognize birthdays of our own children as well as nieces and nephews. It is harder for us to remember to recognize adults birthdays. Not because they aren’t worth recognizing, but because this is how we have been conditioned. It is what it is.

    I mention this only to give you something to consider the next time you wonder what is wrong with the person that doesn’t at least say happy birthday.

    Happy *belated* Birthday. 😉


    [Wow, Chuck. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me that. It helps so much. I’m stunned and sorry to hear what you’ve said. I can sometimes be so foolishly naive. I wish I could say Happy Birthday to you 22,000 times to try to make up for it, but your words helped me realize that it’s not always just about those two simple words. Thank you.

    — bmgmom]

  4. Kim

    I still have a birthday week!! Happy Birthday when it is your birthday!!!

    Funny post!!!


    [Thanks, Kim.

    — bmgmom]

  5. PG

    Here’s the rub. Yeah, I really dig it when my birthday gets recognized. I am just a big kid usually. But I am too clueless to reciprocate most of the time so I can’t really expect it all that much.

    My parents, wife, kids and in-laws all do a good job with the warm wishes and such. But, rarely do I get any mention outside that group – including from my siblings (6 of them). And hell, my oldest brother SHARES my birthday.

    But again, I don’t usually call him – so why should I expect a call?


    [These comments are really shedding some light on this topic for me. Thanks, PG!!

    — bmgmom]

  6. I’m not kidding, I sent that same card to a friend on their birthday! It’s a great one…

    I adored this post, and I love your pictures!

    I feel the same way about adults attitudes toward each other, especially since children learn by example- as if our society isn’t child-centered enough- Besides, like your son, children like to see grown-ups being kind to their parents and each other.

    In addition people also accuse me of the “Pollyanna attitude” you mentioned all the time, and I think it’s mean. But I guess misery loves company and they can’t stand to see anyone else happy. Although of course, I feel sorry for grouchy people because we have control over how we act, feel and think, and they make life harder when it doesn’t have to be, in fact it takes less energy to be kind.

    And… you’re also right about the two little nice words… So Happy Birthday whether it’s your birthday or not (because I’m glad you’re alive) and I would like to tell you that you’re a very talented writer, uh oh, that was more than two words, but consider the source.

    Thanks for a great post~



    [Wow, Ann! That knocked my socks off! Thanks! I’m so glad to have discovered you and really value your blogging friendship (I’m glad you’re alive, too!!).

    — bmgmom]

  7. Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday,
    Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday,Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday,Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, I think that covers you for a few years…

    Doing a little Blog Hopping when I have a little time and not dozing off due to 2 active boys, a new baby and no sleep…


    [Congratulations on that beautiful newborn baby boy! I hope you get a little more sleep each night. And thanks for the stock of wishes!!

    — bmgmom]

  8. I was totally going to tell you, “Happy Birthday”, but since it’s not your birthday, I guess I can’t do that. But, I CAN agree with you! You’re never too old to have people make a big deal out of your birthday (or a little deal for that matter).


    [Here, here, Momo! Thanks!!

    — bmgmom]

  9. If I know it’s your birthday, I will wish you a happy bday! I like when people acknowledge mine too!


    [Thanks, Ashley!

    — bmgmom]