The day before I left Mike it was his birthday. Having postponed the move so many times, I finally decided that would be the official day. Determined to have one last day of family and one last day of togetherness, the kids and I spent our day creating the illusion of happiness. We went out to buy presents, made a cake, decorated cards, and prepared a favorite dinner. None of it was really appreciated, as I knew it wouldn’t be, but we did it anyway. It was important to me for the kids to see me still making the effort to do nice things for their father, even though we were no longer together, even though our world was going to change dramatically in the next 24 hours.
I still made the effort. And that seems to be the one sentence that can sum up my 13 years of marriage to a man I am no longer in love with.
I still made the effort.
And now, today is my birthday. A different birthday than every other year. Since Oliver and I are two days apart, my birthday usually falls in the shadows of his. But this year, some one has gone out of their way to make it extra special and for that I will always be grateful.
I have loved the calls and the voicemails, the facebook posts, the emails, and the text messages telling me Happy Birthday. I even received one from my father-in-law (ex-father-in-law? Too many hyphens to be sure) telling me Happy Birthday! Happy birthday exclamation point…as if he really is being genuine even though I have left his son.
Yet, as of 11 am, there have been no texts or calls from Mike wishing me a happy birthday. There were the texts asking me about emailing Max’s teacher since he is sick and home from school. There were the texts asking me about bills that need to be paid. These texts began at 6:32 this morning, and yet, not one saying Happy Birthday.
At least once a week there is the text asking me when I am “coming home” and getting back together with him. But not a single happy birthday. Yes, I know it’s still early in the day, but still…you’d think if you loved someone so much and wanted them back in your life, it would the first thing you say.
I can’t really act like I’m surprised. He’s notoriously famous for forgetting my birthday, even when we were together. Really, that’s a tiny piece of the enormous puzzle of why I left. I’m sure other’s have their judgements. I ran off with another man. I broke up a marriage. I put my happiness above Mike’s. All true, of course, but also insignificant pieces to the larger picture.
Do I need a happy birthday from him? No. Not in the least. I’m glad to know that even when he didn’t care about my day, I still made the effort for his.
And I will choose to do so with the kids each August 14th.