I never have expectations about anything and my birthday was no exception. My daughter who is 14 had asked me way back in october if I would want a party and I said no. My birthday is on christmas eve! No one wants to deal with going to a party during the holiday. Nice thought but no. And I thought that was the end of it.
So, my bff (who turned 40 this year) called me a couple of weeks before my birthday and said she and her family are taking me out on December 23rd for my birthday. Ok! That sounds very fun and I am so honored that she, my bff, the sister I was lucky enough to pick, was making something special out of my 40th. She said the kids were really excited to take me out to lunch so no backing out. Because she knows that sometimes I just get to a place in my head where I just cannot deal with being a lovely person and then I just hibernate until I can deal again. I said “Yes, bff, I will be there and thank you” and I loved her.
You see, no one has ever made any sort of “big deal” out of any of life’s celebrations for me. I guess because all of life’s celebrations I have always screwed up one way or another. Birthdays, graduations, wedding, babies…I have never done any of those conventionally and so, no one ever made a big deal out of any of those things. A really great lesson on no expectations, no resentment. So, lunch with my bff, her family and my kids for my 40th birthday sounded really perfect.
About a week before the 23rd, my bff and I were talking and she was slightly stressed as she was in the process of selling her house and building a new one, and her husband was out of town, and she had alot of orders for her 1 year old candle business, and she had lines to learn for the show she was in…plus christmas…I jumped right in and said “we can totally cancel lunch and just get together after christmas, no biggie!” and she said “no. your kids are really looking forward to doing this for you” so, ok, lunch is still on. I don’t want to disappoint the kids.
Then comes December 23rd and we are supposed to meet my bff at my fav restaurant at 2. The girls and I go get our annual manicure and we are done at 1. So, we head over toward the restaurant. I am always early. I just am. It is probably as annoying as people who are always late, but I can’t seem to help myself. And so, we start heading to the restaurant. My kids are doing their thing, listening to their ipods. Just before we get to the restaurant I remember that my contacts were ready for pick up at the mall. So, we swing by the mall and I send in my daughter to grab my contacts. By the time she gets out (day before christmas eve the mall was mobbed) it was about 1:45. So, we head over to the restaurant and I am feeling anxious as now I feel like we are going to be late (anything close to on time feels late to me).
As I pull into the parking lot and I see my friend Robb’s car. It is a obnixious yellow car with a personalized licence plate so it is definitely his car. I was so excited!! Robb was somewhere in this restaurant eating and I was going to run up to him and accuse him of calling me fat! It’s an inside joke we had been going back and forth with for weeks. Oh I was giggling already to see his surprised face when I come out of no where and catch him calling me fat (which he wouldn’t have really been doing, but that is the joke…you had to be there). So, we park and I am giddy to get in there and find him…oh he is going to have to explain to his lunch companion why some crazy red head just ran over and started yelling at him for calling her fat!!! Yes, this is my idea of fun at age 40. Nothing wrong with that. I told you have lived ALOT of life up till this point. Whatever.
We walked in and there is my bff, her husband, her kids, her mom and Papa. She had told me the day before that her mom was going to be there so I knew I should make an effort in my appearance because I know her mom appreciates that sort of thing. We gave everyone a hug and I was STILL so excited to go find Robb!! So, as we were walking towards our table I am looking everywhere for Robb or for his Tina. Scanning, ready to pouce….I didn’t even see that we had been walked right to the huge double doors of the private diningroom when all of the sudden my BFF throws open the doors in the most dramatically classic surprise party way and there stands all my wonderful friends. And I just start sobbing like a total idiot.
I mean, ugly cry, snot, swollen eyes…it was NOT pretty. My bff hugged me and said “I am so glad you dressed nice today. I know you would have killed me if you hadn’t done your hair. Thank God you did your hair!!” I was shocked. I had no clue. Both my kids knew. They had planned every last detail with my bff. And never did they let on. At all. Not my 14 yr old, not my 9 year old. I was completely blown away. There was the banner of me as a baby naked in the tub, there was a fancy cake, there was a video presentation (done by Robb who was there, which totally ruined my plan…). It was like nothing I had ever experienced. It’s been almost 3 months and I still can’t believe they did this!!!
I am still teary thinking of all these friends who took time out of their hectic holiday schedule to come and celebrate with me. My family was there, my bff from NYC, one of my girlfriends from middle school who I had reconnected with but hadn’t seen since 8th grade…it was better than anything you would see on the Hallmark channel. Better than a Lifetime movie. It was the perfect way to celebrate 40 years.
All of the people who I love, oh and there were presents, which was so fun!! It was all so overwhelming. I tried to make one of those speeches which is expected…but I just cried. Which is exactly what I did when I had to make my Maid of Honor speech at my bff’s wedding. Embarrassing. My bff covered for me and said what I couldn’t, just like she did at her wedding. I am still in awe thinking back to how they pulled this off, how my friends took the time to gather and how much it truly effected me. Sure, there were some people missing but when you live with no expectations it is never a disappointment. They were all there in my heart no doubt.
And as we were cutting the cake my bff said “See, El, there are some really great perks to being a single mom with great kids and a bff who loves you” Which totally made me cry more. Then she said in her mafia voice “There will be no surprise party for my 40th so you might as well get that idea right out of your head. If there is even a slight hint about a surprise 40th I will kick your ass and divorce you and my husband. Understand?”
Thank you to all who came, for what you all mean to me in my life, to my bff and my kids, my family and most of all to Life for allowing me 40 years…