Call it a curse. Having an early January birthday right after two holidays meant few surprises growing up. People simply forgot.
Oh no, we missed your birthday – again.
For my 25th birthday, a group of dear college friends pulled off an incredible night – one surprise after another to make up for lost years. Even a cake in the face makes a guy feel loved.
I never saw it coming – words that would foreshadow birthdays to come.
Upon becoming a father, the only gift I requested from my kids was a day of extra good behavior – and maybe a thoughtful note.
For my 42nd birthday, my kids were determined to make me a cake. Eight candles would have to do.
Nonetheless, the genuine smiles are priceless.
More often than not, however, my birthday became a trigger. Although I never made much of the day, their deep feelings of unworthiness came to the surface. That’s the fall-out for children who experience early trauma, whether from FASD or RAD.
Their trauma recycles, often as special days approach.
For my 46th birthday, I received a fist to the eye. My gift was an ER doctor skilled in suturing, with the seven stitches barely leaving a scar.
For my 50th birthday, I received four broken ribs – after a body slam to the floor. My gift was extra time with my brother who brought me home from the ER.
But I never lost hope.
Finally at 55, I received not one but four wonderful notes.
Happy Birthday! Thank you for all that you’ve done for me. You’re making me into a real man. Your son, Michael
I wish you a happy 55th birthday & many more to follow. I will & can assure you that my part in making you a happier father will never ever falter. From here on out, count me as your number one ally. Stay strong, Brandon
I hope you have a nice birthday. We’ll be on our best behavior for you. I love you FP with all my heart and I always will. Thank you for your help for all these years. Happy Birthday FP. Andrew
This is our 15th of your birthdays that I have been blessed to experience as a part of the family. I love you so much and am lucky just to know you, let alone be your daughter. I hope this year is peaceful and relaxing. You of all people deserve that! I will do my part to cook each week and help you be able to kick back a little more. Thank you for all that you do and the kind heart that you always show us. Love, Ashley
In 2017, fear returned. With my most unstable son extremely paranoid and bent on breaking all of my ribs this time around, I spent eight hours with him in the ER the day before my birthday. Unfortunately, his last med change hasn’t provided the same kick as lithium – whose dose had to be reduced to prevent further kidney damage.
Not the surprise I expected this year.
So I pick myself up and carry on. That’s what parents need to do every now and then.
Most importantly, everyone will be safe on my special day.
And that alone is gift enough for me. DCP
Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE
To follow Craig’s journey in raising his six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love
To follow my son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold