I usually ignore my birthday. I’ve forgotten most of them because I treated them as non-events. Although there are a couple of exceptions.
On the day I turned 21, my father’s Cairn terrier leapt up and bit me on the back of the knee as my father gave me a birthday hug. ‘It’s me or the dog,’ I shouted, and promptly flounced out of the house and took a train to Dublin where I was a student. It was clear the dog was staying.
Then there was the day I turned 30. We were living in Singapore, it was Mother’s Day, and my first child was three weeks old. The three of us ate brunch at the Four Seasons (oh the life we used to lead!) and I cried on the walk home because I was such a crap mum. Nothing had prepared me for the bone-numbing, eye-gritting tiredness of motherhood. Yes, there’s probably little about that scenario that would make you feel sorry for me; I just felt very sorry for myself.
However, this year, I feel a certain sense of achievement about reaching 38. I’m happy, I’m healthy and I haven’t given up the novel-writing dream (yet). What’s more I’ve three healthy, happy children, a wonderful husband whom I love dearly, and my parents are still fit and well. (The dog incidentally, died a few years back, so I guess I won that battle in the end.)
I have friends coping with cancer and bereavement, and I think of them every single day. I know that life can change in an instant, that life is fragile. In the past year, I've learned not to take my good fortune for granted.
Who knows what the next year will bring? I’m finally at an age where I’m living day by day, and trying to put worries about the future, worries about what can go wrong, to the back of my mind.
Today, as Elton John and I celebrate our birthdays (not together, obviously), I’m going to embrace the passing of another year (and procrastinate a little longer on Botox and completing my first draft). Really, other than telling the whole world about it, I’m still ignoring my birthday.