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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Making yourself happy

Today is my birthday.

It's shaping up to be a pretty nice day. 

Dinner cooked by my husband, cake from my daughter, and everybody coming over here which is what I really want. I also got an exercise bike, a non-rickety one, which was something I really had my eye on too for a while.

I have been talking to the family.

On one of my calls one of my sisters she told me how her whole family did zero, nada, nothing, for her own recent birthday. That was two weeks ago and I can tell she still feels bad about it, and she really is one of those wives and mothers who does everything for everybody.

I told her if birthdays matter to you make sure you get everyone organized to celebrate it.

Took me a while to figure this out.

The thing is when you get married you might connect with someone who comes from a different approach to these things than you do. 

In my own family all events, everything actually, was A Big Deal. Not in my brother-in-law's family and not in my husband's family either.

So rather than being miserable on a day no one remembered, I start early and make it clear that if it makes sense or not to my significant other having something happen on my birthday is a good thing.

Listen, I said, a card for these events is nice. A meal is better, and a something of any price range is much appreciated. Just to make sure this hasn't gone down too far on the to-do list I have asked a couple of times this week "well how are the birthday plans going?"

At the risk of being totally sexist I have to tell you that marriage and sons have taught me that most males just want to be told what to do rather than being the recipient of a lot of post-event sighing or The Look. 

Of course it is perfectly reasonable to say that if you have to ask for it, it doesn't matter. If you were dealing in a world of women that would be true. 

But since we're not I would counter that with, if it matters to you why not ask for it?

You can't always count on The Look or for the dinner plates hitting the table loudly being translated appropriately.

Women always do this.

I have read in the organizational literature that many women on the way up in their careers think if they work longer, harder, above and beyond enough, Someone Will Notice and eventually they will get their reward.

In fact the evidence is that the world, workplaces in particular, are not meritocracies and in fact no one probably will notice. More likely they will just get used to the idea of being in a one way relationship where the benefits flow only one way.

How many of us have seen some over-worked woman passed over for a promotion in favour of someone who did only what was required but did so publicly?

Sometime smart outdoes fair.

I was also struck this week by a quote from Gloria Allred of all people. 

She said a woman should decide what she wanted in a spouse and then be that person herself.

Sure would take the pressure off.

So if the person who makes sure you have a great birthday is yourself that's OK.

One year older and that little bit smarter.


Claire S. said...

Happy birthday ! Sounds like you've got it all set up, enjoy your day :-)

Far said...

Happy happy birthday to you!!!! I totally agree with you. my husband is pretty good at birthdays n anniversaries, but i still do pout on otr stuff and i suppose want him to read mind. Silly i know.

KC said...

Happy Birthday! You are very wise.

annie said...

Mind reading sometimes is effective but you have to have been married to the same person for 52 years. I have taken to buying what I want, putting gift wrap on it and signing it, "Love from your S.O." On the other hand, I get breakfast every single morning, cooked, and cleaned up afterward. But that's another story. Happy birthday to you and many more.

a little sewing said...

Happy Birthday to you! It sounds like a really nice day. I am with you - open communication is the best way to get what you want and these family celebrations mean a lot to everyone.

Jeanneke said...

Happy Birthday! One year older, much wiser and humoristic as ever.
You made my day with your post, and it isn't even my birthday :>)


Bunny said...

Leave it to Gloria Alred to cut through the c--p.

Karin said...

Happy Birthday!
I used to get upset about Mother's Day. Not anymore. I remind my husband several weeks in advance that Mother's Day is coming and I won't be cooking. If flowers are not forth coming, I just buy myself some the next day without any drama or sighing. If he even notices them, I just explained there were a lot around for Mother's Day, they looked nice, and I fancied them.
This is so much easier and more relaxing than being curt and brittle.

Anonymous said...

You are so right about most males just want to be told what is expected. When I was first married I gave DH a list of items that would be acceptable as gifts. The dear man tried to get everything! I have since learned to give him a smaller list. We are to the point now that we gift replacement items that we need. So Happy Birthday, and glad you got to celebrate it the way you wanted.

Theresa in Tucson

gMarie said...

Happy Birthday! My birthday is tomorrow and I'm throwing a dinner party - to make sure I get what I want. Today asked one of the guests to bring birthday cake! I also too my hubby to a yarn store that was having a trunk sale and told him it was part of my evil plan! I know I'm getting 3 hanks of beautiful sock yarn that I will love. Don't know what colors. g

debbie said...

Happy birthday and many more!

It took me several years of constantly reminding DH that a cake was very important to me on my birthday. He doesn't even have to make one. I want one from the bakery. Sure I could go get one myself, but that's not the point is it?

Sandra said...

So, you are having a birthday, and we get the present: another of your wonderful, wise, and funny posts. Thanks, Barb, and Happy Happy Birthday!

Linda said...

Happy Birthday!

Texan said...

Happy Birthday!

Debbie Cook said...

Happy Birthday! Reading minds is not a skill most humans have, which is something I learned a long time ago. I think you probably did too. :-)

Sewfast said...

Happy Birthday! Very well said!

LyndaSewing.blogspot.com said...

Happy Birthday! Obviously with each year comes a bit more wisdom. Your words are wise and make total sense. My late husband was marvelous because he loved the celebrations. This one didn't have celebrations when he was growing up and doesn't understand why you don't buy what you want and forget about it. He's being retrained! LOL
Glad you got to have your loved ones around you and enjoyed your day!

Branka said...

Yet another wise and brilliant post from you! Happy happy birthday to you!

velosewer said...

Happy birthday and it's so wonderful to see your family is so well organised!!

Catherine Daze said...

Happy birthday! Interesting thoughts as always.

Charlotte said...

All so true, it took me years to learn this. Happy birthday, and thank you for blogging!

Gabrielle said...

Happy birthday!

I love your blog, you always make me smile or think or both!

Sew Lady Sew! said...

Happy birthday!!!

Merging birthday traditions (or lack of them) in new families/couples is a trick. For my husband, food = love. Therefore he expected a gourmet meal on his b-day. For me, gift = b-day happiness, and I want something I can unwrap.

One our first birthdays together, guess who got the lavish meal (what no present?!?) and who got the gift (hamburger casserole for my birthday dinner?!?)

We have since figured it out.

Judi Pinkham said...

Seriously...you should write a book! You write so well. You are wise. You mix wisdom with humor. It's a joy to read your blog!!!

Jodie said...

Happy Birthday! Sounds like a fabulous day. I do exactly what you do - although as my boy is a teenager, some of the cooking falls to me still. Works for me!
Take care, enjoy your day,

Ladyslipper said...

Happy Birthday!

billie said...

Well said ;) happy birthday to you!

Mary said...

Happy belated birthday Barbara, I am just catching up on my internet life. Hope you got the hints out, and everyone followed your suggestions for a good birthday celebration. :-)