I used to joke that my birthday should be internationally known and celebrated. I have always loved my birthday. I love that there is a day to celebrate me. A day where everyone I know tells me I am special and loved. Growing up we didn’t have much money. Birthdays were one of the two days out of the year that I got presents and the only day of the year I could choose what we ate for dinner and I spent my life loving my birthday.
Some years I live in denial that I have grown another year older. Other years (including this one, thankfully), I am excited for a day to celebrate myself and I spend the week leading up to the 24th of July telling everyone I know, and occasionally some I don’t, that my birthday is coming up.
The way I feel on my birthday sets the tone for my entire I year. Do I feel happy and loved, full of potential? Or do I feel old, my unrealized potential slowly diminishing? Certain birthdays come and go and my life isn’t what I think it should be. I thought things would be different when I was this age. I thought my imagined dreams would have become reality by now. When I was 29, I had years of regrets and unreached goals. I dreaded each day that led up to the next milestone. I did not want to turn 30 and I pretended that it wasn’t going to happen.
I decided a couple of days before my birthday that I would find something to look forward to on my birthday. I wanted a party, a time to invite friends to celebrate with me. But a friend of mine scheduled her bachelorette party on my birthday and the following day was her birthday. So I had to think smaller. I made a cake. Not just any cake. This one was a special recipe I got from a friend whose mom had got it from a well-know tea room in town. It came out perfect and when I shared it with my family on my birthday, I found that even though I had dreaded this day for the last 3 years, I could still get excited about a cake. And that made me feel just a little less grown up.
Every year since, I make my own cake from scratch. This year, I found a recipe for a moist chocolate cake using quinoa instead of flour. It was rich and decadent and not dry like so many gluten-free desserts. (I also made it in the evening and it didn’t have time to cool completely so it kind of fell apart.) This year was the first year I worked on my birthday in several years and by the end of the day, I was exhausted, spending my entire evening cooking dinner and baking my cake. But it was still a good birthday. Not only because the cake was delicious, but because I am 34 and can get just as excited by cake as I did when I was 7.