Birthdays and Mother ~ a Symbiotic Relationship

I grew up in a household where great emphasis was put on birthdays. As it happened, the year was nicely punctuated with the five birthdays ~ January, March, June, October and December.  Mine is the October one and falls tomorrow.

I really only fully realised the extent to which birthdays and Mother were totally intertwined when I faced into my first birthday without her three years ago.  In the literature associated with losing elderly parents, there is relatively little emphasis put on the emotional upheaval that can be associated with birthdays without mothers. This is in stark contrast to references about anniversaries of death or major festivals, like Christmas.

I think it would have helped me enormously if someone had taken me aside before that first birthday without Mother and said: ‘Hey, I think you should be warned that birthdays are never, ever the same after your mother has died because the birthday has huge meaning and significance for the mother as well as the child ~ whatever age the child is ~ and now there’s only one of you left to celebrate.’ 

Three years on, I’m much better equipped to deal with my birthday without Mother because I’ve come to  know that the days around October 18 will bring back so many memories of birthdays that we shared.  Tonight, it suddenly came back to me how Mother always made a walnut coffee cake for my birthday. I was back sitting on the tall stool in the kitchen  watching her ice the cake and handing me the spoon to lick.

It’s never big things that come back to me ~ just the warmth of her smile and the sheer pleasure of remembering birthday moments we shared ~ like the time when I was seven or eight and we waited together on Main Street, Castleblayney for the bus to arrive from Dundalk bearing a pink padded dressing-gown that she had bought me for my birthday present.

Tomorrow, whatever the weather, my thoughts will be with Mother as I plant snowdrop bulbs that will bloom without fail on her birthday on January 29th.

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

14 thoughts on “Birthdays and Mother ~ a Symbiotic Relationship”

    1. Hi Vanessa, thanks for writing. Yes, I think happy memories are fundamental but there is always the need to move forward with them and re-create. What better example than snowdrop bulbs of giving us the promise of light ahead!

  1. Thanks for shining the light on this issue … And speaking of light,

    … have you heard of Mommy’s Light?

    Their mission is “bringing joy and comfort to children and teens by helping them keep alive traditions or simple pleasures they shared with their mothers.”

    I LOVE how they are addressing this issue with families where the mom has died but I especially like the fact that they are modeling how anyone can “show up” in the life of someone who has experienced a loss.

    Blessings, Lynne

    1. Hi Lynne, I’m delighted to hear about ‘Mommy’s Light’ organisation and want to thank you for highlighting it here. That idea of keeping simple pleasures and traditions alive certainly resonates with me even though I’m a grown-up ‘child!

    1. Hi John, great to hear from you! Memories ~ well the happy ones – are so important in sustaining us, aren’t they? I know I’m one of the lucky ones to have had my mother for so long and to have had such a great relationship with her.

  2. I was born on my mother’s 31st birthday. She died last year. We were together for all but about 2 of our birthdays. My birthday can never ever be the same.

    1. Maribeth, please accept my deepest sympathy on your mother’s death. What a wonderful 31st birthday present she received with your arrival. It sounds from what you write that your birthdays were extra-extra special and it must be almost a record to have been together for all but two of them. I hope that you will find some way of celebrating that precious day in a way that can embrace your mutual love.

      I really appreciate you writing and wish I knew what that special date is.

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