32nd #Birthday: When Everyone Just Quits Trying?

Let me start this post by saying I am not really a birthday kinda gal. In fact, the only reason I know mine is coming up is because my husband asked me his usual, “What do you want for your birthday?” question. There were two years where I actually forgot my own birthday: One I only figured out the day before because of my work schedule, the other I realized the day of because someone wished me a Happy Birthday.

I don’t know when or why the lack of give-a-damns about the day came about; I just know that eventually, when people started giving me the old “Oooohh someone has a birthday coming up” grin and wink, it would take me a few minutes to realize they were talking about me. It was like I had a finite number of fucks to give on the subject, and each year I spent one of my fucks to blow out the birthday candles.

I think the last time I cared was on birthday number 25, and really that was only because I was excited about the super delicious Costco sheet cake my family bought for me. Not even joking, that shit was delicious.

 

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Probably how I am going to be kidnapped one day.

 

Now, because it drives my husband insane that I can never tell him what I want for my manufacturing-date celebration, I figured I would at least try to help him out a little and browse the web for ideas. What DO you give the woman who has no fucking clue what she wants? I typed “gifts for 32 year old women” hoping to find something that was mature yet fun enough to pique my interest. Because, let’s face it, I’m no spring chicken but I can still cluck with the rest of the hen house.

 

It was like I had a finite number of fucks to give on the subject, and each year I spent one of my fucks blowing out the birthday candles.

 

What… the fuck, guys.

Now I know I’ve quit caring about my own birthday—I mean it happens when you got a bushel of crotchfruit to buy gifts for every year… twice. You stop thinking about what you want for yourself when you have to worry about everyone else—but holy damn. When did 30 mean death of creativity, fun, or adventure? Here are some of the gifts suggested for your 32 year old wife/sister/daughter/friend:

 

A floral phone case.

 

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Show how much you care for your wife by giving her a girly-enough-to-puke phone case that she could have probably bought for herself because, you know, it’s a phone case. In fact, she probably saw this at the store, snorted, and passed it up for the durable Otterbox because she knows she’s a klutz, but now she has to smile and pretend to like it because you tried your best.

If you are dead set on giving her something for her phone, I guarantee she would be way more excited if you payed for a month of service, or an iTunes gift card. Or even an Audible membership/credits because, let me tell you, I burn through books on my phone and they are not cheap.

 

 

Cord Organizer.

 

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…. Really? If she needs a cord organizer, chances are pretty good she won’t actually USE the thing, so it will likely just decay at the bottom of her purse.

If she’s the type to get really irked at cords, maybe get her those Bluetooth headphones she’s been drooling over, assuming she hasn’t gone wireless already. Or, if you want to do something with organization because she’s a mess—er—because she is too busy kicking ass and can’t get anyone to cooperate with helping out at home, maybe pay for a housecleaning or organizing service for the house. She will be speechless, I promise.

 

 

Colorful measuring spoons.

 

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Okay so, while these are kinda cute… do they really scream Happy Birthday to you? Yay! You were born! Here is a little reminder that your entire life’s meaning is to cook until you die, and as an added bonus we get to play “will one more item fit in the utensil drawer?!” And I know, I hear you already. “Well my wife doesn’t do all the cooking! I help out, too, because I am super husband!” Which begs the question, if it’s something that is going to be used constantly by everyone in the house, does that really make it her gift? Or just a nice addition to community property?

If you think cooking is the path to her heart, try taking her to a cooking class for couples. Or plan way ahead and save up so that you can spend the week of her birthday taking her to restaurants featuring exotic foods from all over the globe. You know, something that isn’t McDonald’s or Applebees that she doesn’t get to indulge in regularly. Make it a foodie adventure.

 

A Paperweight.

 

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You have GOT to be kidding me, right? If this is how you think your wife feels, maybe you should ask yourself if there might be another reason there isn’t enough wine. And then you might ask yourself if you really want to arm her with a blunt object perfectly sized for throwing.

If it’s the quote thing that caught your eye, then maybe try to tap into your romantic side and start the month out by slipping her hand-written quotes that remind you of her every day. Yes, I know, this takes a lot of planning but come on. Think of her smile when she sees these little surprises and knows you think about her as more than just a bed heater, personal chef, and TV remote arch nemesis. And here is an added bonus… this costs next to NOTHING. Thoughtful and frugal, my two favorite things.

And the last one because we will be here forever if I keep going:

 

Coasters.

 

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Yes, they actually suggested buying a woman 4 coasters for her birthday. Unless these coasters come with a magically endless refill of wine, tea, or whiskey, you just gave me yet another projectile weapon. There really are no words for this one. I mean, really guys? You look at someone you love and think, “she deserves coasters!”

At this point, there are no “comparable” alternatives. If you cannot think of anything better than a coaster, just don’t even try shopping for her. Hand her some cash or a gift card and drop her ass off at her favorite store. It might be the mall, it might be Target. Just let her do her thing. Coasters, guys. Really?

Now I know there are going to be some people whose first reaction to this blog will be, “You are so materialistic! At least they tried! Get over yourself!” To those people, I will point your attention back to the beginning of this rant. I honestly could get nothing and I would be indifferent to it. But I felt like I needed to help my fellow ladies out because sometimes a woman just likes to feel as though someone gets them. And if you notice, I had suggestions that were affordable or even free for the most part. It doesn’t have to break the bank.

 

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Just make sure the gift is appropriate for the recipient, guys.

 

It’s not about how cheap the gift is, it’s solely about knowing the person you are giving the gift to. By the products suggested in the article, I would think these women receiving them are dead inside, gentrified, no fun, and maybe just flat out broke and can’t buy any of these type of things themselves (I mean, baby oil? Really?) And that’s okay if that’s the case, but I wouldn’t label these as gifts to symbolize the celebration of their existence. If you wanna get them some cool coasters, do it just ’cause you think they’d like them. I’m not saying these aren’t nice things, but… you are supposed to step it up a notch for a birthday. C’mon.

Most women want to know they are seen and heard. That you want to experience things with them. Give them an adventure. Give them something they’ve been drooling over. Give them romance. Show you get them as individuals. Don’t just toss them a 5oz bottle of Beauty Blender cleaner. What?

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Having Daughters Is Nothing Like I Expected

Since I was a little girl, about 12-years-old, I knew I was going to have a daughter. There was no doubt about it. I would grow up, get married, and become a mother. I didn’t know how many children I would have, but I knew that I would definitely have a daughter. I want to say when I did just that it was everything I hoped for, but in all honesty it was nothing like I expected.

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I knew that I would dress up my sweet little girl in ribbons and curls and cute little pink skirts. I never thought I’d be telling my daughter that she couldn’t wear her favorite dress to the park because there are predators out there that loiter around the swings watching and as fun as it is to jump from the swing and tumble on the ground, he might see her undies.

I remember people showing their kids embarrassing toddler pictures, which almost always included a bath pic or a nakie-baby pic. I was shocked when it became “bad” to share these precious—and usually hilarious—moments of their childhood because it was suddenly considered obscene. I was even more surprised when I eventually understood that some perverts found something less-than-innocent in these pictures and that they eventually stole those precious keepsakes from me because, God forbid, you actually have possession of one then you are automatically considered a “sicko”.

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I knew I’d want to take her swimming or watch her play in the sprinkler in the front yard, but I didn’t know I’d end up making her wear a pair of shorts over her swimsuit because someone at the pool was gawking at her just a little too hard. I didn’t expect to have to pass on the ultra-cute ruffled two-pieces because a grown man might think her tummy showing meant she was inviting his disgusting thoughts.

I looked forward to going on outings with my daughter and visiting new places. It never really occurred to me that first I would have to teach her that it was safer to use the restroom with someone she knew; something in-grained into our female brains long before there was such a thing as a “transgender bathroom-issue”. That men often mock and tease us for “herding” without realizing they are the cause of it.

I knew I would want to take my daughter to the annual fair to see the pretty lights and ride the rides, but I didn’t expect I would find myself tying a rope from my belt loop to hers out of the growing fear and anxiety that someone might snatch her in the crowd. That people might point and laugh at us and some might even give me dirty looks for being that mom, but somehow that little length of rope would give me a sense of security and ease.

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I came to terms with the fact that, the older and more independent she got, the more she would want to play alone or be more adventurous. She’d want to ride her bike around the block, play in a friend’s yard, or go for a walk with friends. I was heartbroken when I realized I would have make her sacrifice most of her independence for safety, and shatter her understanding of the world around her by telling her about stranger danger and bad people. It broke my heart to watch her lose some of that trust in human beings. It completely destroyed me knowing that I had barely even touched on exactly how terrifying and bad the people in this world could be.

I expected my daughter would eventually have the puberty class, as we all did in school. It would be informative and embarrassing, and a little funny, but she would learn more about her body and what it does and why. What I wasn’t prepared for were special classes teaching her about good touches and bad touches, because 1 in 4 children are molested. That means of the 20 kids in my daughter’s class, 5 of her friends will have experienced “bad touching”.

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When I separated from her father, I knew to expect troubled times and difficulty with co-parenting. I knew there would be times when she was with me and she wanted to see daddy instead. I could barely bear it when I ended up having to keep the truth from her about her bio-dad, because the things he later did to another little girl are too terrible to burden her with, and now when she says she wants to meet her dad, it doubly hurts.

I hate to say it, but I even knew there might be a time or two where my daughter would get in trouble at school and I might even have to come and speak with the principal about it. She’s a kid. It’s a given. But I never dreamed I might be called out of work, missing a day’s pay, to meet with the principal because my daughter wore a tank top to school— which lacked proper air-conditioning—because her shoulders were “distracting” and “disruptive”. Meaning, because my little girl dressed for comfort on a very hot day, she’s not allowed to stay in school because of it, because her education isn’t as important as the boys who were somehow too distracted by her shoulders to focus on their studies (I can tell you, they really weren’t. Give our boys some credit).

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I dreaded, but expected, my daughter’s teenage firsts. First car, first phone, first date, first prom… All scary, but memorable, times. What I didn’t count on was that she’d have to walk in parking lots with pepper spray or self-defense training just to go to the store alone, that she’d be pressured into sending boys nude selfies and then find out at school the next day that everyone saw it, that she would have to be assertive when she said “No” to a boy because they don’t always listen the first, second, or third time, and even that I would have to worry that she knew she was worth more than her body and if he loved her, her boyfriend wouldn’t pressure her to give it to him.

Sending my daughter to college will be bittersweet, and I know I will have to trust in her to take care of herself and get her studies done. I just hope, when it comes time to put down work and go to play, that she remembers to go to parties with friends and watch each others backs, to never ever leave her drink unattended or accept an open drink from anyone, and to not get too drunk that she can’t defend herself because being a girl, she can’t do those inconsequential things like boys get to do.

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But I also knew I would have a son of my own, too. Someone I would raise to treat everyone with respect and to protect anyone that needs help. I just didn’t understand I would have to teach him to not look at girls like meat but to treat them like human beings and to love them rather than lust after them, that he should never ever take advantage of a girl who might have had too much to drink and instead get her to a safe place, that he needs to take responsibility for his own mistakes and not blame his inability to focus on what a girl is wearing, that he is not owed anything from the girl he is dating, and that he should focus on what a girl adds to his life rather than what she can give him for a night. I didn’t understand I would have to teach these things to my son because my daughters will forever be forced to deal with boys who weren’t taught the same by their mothers and fathers. But one day, he will have a daughter of his own and it will hit him as hard as it hit me. When that time comes, I hope he will have lived as the kind of boy he would want his own daughter to date.

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**Not every anecdote written here happened to my daughters. Some are examples of stories I’ve heard from other women, as well.