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September 22, 2011

My birthday was last week.

Now, as I move into the older brackets,  I’ve heard major grumblings around me about wanting to ignore birthdays. Pretend they don’t exist. Just move on with the day like it’s any other day and forget.

Not me.

You see, I’m like a kid. I adore birthdays. My motto most years revolves around the concept of a birthday “month.” One day is just not enough. If I spread out the fun over a few weekends, then the month of September is one long party.

My poor husband knows how important my birthday is. I think secretly he dreads it each year. On his birthday, I spend months planning the perfect gift or outing. He starts planning mine the week before. Now, since last year I had the party of the century, I felt much more mellow, so I told him just dinner and a movie would be nice, and not to worry about any surprises. He was quite relieved, but smart enough to ask me MANY times if I meant it or if it was a test. Poor guy.

My mom took the kids, and we decided to visit a steak house where we also scored a restaurant.com gift certificate. Smart planning. We lined up the movie and actually agreed.

A few days before my birthday, we needed to bring both dogs to the vet. My older one seemed tired and I was a bit concerned since we’ve been saying he’s 12 years old for the last 4 years.  Both dogs got the work up, including blood tests, meds, etc. I had my husband’s debit card on hand, and let’s say when I swiped it bells went off because of the expense. When I returned home, he casually asked me how much the bill was.

So, I told him.

My husband never gets mad. I can count on one hand how many times he loses his temper. So, imagine my horror when he starts screaming at me about how much money I spent. I calmly informed him I had no choice because of the tests, and after a while he calmed down, but seemed really, really stressed out.

Fast forward to my birthday night.

The movie was wonderful. The dinner was superb. We had a few cocktails, and feasted on appetizers. My grilled tuna was perfectly rare, with buttery mashed potatoes that sang in my mouth. His filet mignon gleamed a perfect pink, and if I ate meat I would have salivated. The dessert was tiny creme puffs filled with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with hot fudge. Cappacino with rock candy. The perfect meal.

The restaurant coupon was a joke and barely put a dent in the bill. I happily scraped the plate clean as the waiter laid the bill discreetly by my husband. “Thank you, honey,” I said sweetly to my adored husband.

He smiled back. “You’re welcome. Happy birthday, babe.”

Then slid the bill next to me.

I blinked. Then slid the bill back.

My husband squirmed uncomfortably. My relaxed body suddenly stiffened. “Why are you giving me the bill, darling?” I asked.

He pushed it back toward me and sighed. “I have no money, babe.”


“That’s why I got so upset when you told me how much you spent for the dogs. You used up all my money.”

I leaned in and hissed. “You’ve known it was my birthday and you didn’t plan? You didn’t put the money away?”

“I thought I’d have enough. But it was a great dinner, wasn’t it babe?”

I stewed and paid the bill.

In the car, he completed the birthday assault. “You said you didn’t want any presents, right? Cause I was thinking of getting you a massage, but I’d have to wait to my next paycheck.”

“Forget it,” I grumbled.

He brightened. “Thanks, babe.”

Yep. Happy Birthday to Me.

Fast forward to the next week. A typical crazy day, with a sick child, and the older one needing to go to religion class. I was working on a new story and was obsessed with it, so I grabbed every opportunity throughout the day between chicken soup and tv to work. When my husband got home, we both groaned about who needed to go to religion class since it was a drive and they make the parents stay to lecture us on being a good parent. I tried to sneak my Kindle in last time but the priest glared at me.

“I guess I’ll go,” I said. “You worked all day.”

He stood in the kitchen and stared at me. “Weren’t you working on your story today?” he asked.


“Well, then you worked just as hard as me,” he said.

The casual words flew through the air and pierced my heart with joy. For those few moments, I realized he SAW me. Appreciated me. And loved me for who I was.

I almost teared up. “Thanks, babe. But I’ll go.”


Welcome to marriage. A little bit of this…and a little bit of that.

And sometimes when you least expect it…a little bit of romance.




❤️ Leave a comment → 


  1. Kimberly says:

    Thanks Jen. I needed the smile. It’s both terrible and comforting to know so many of us are in the same boat. My credit card balance goes up every other week to avoid cutting into the money I need for my bills.
    And compromise and bartering are definately the keys to a modern day romance. lol

  2. Jen, Just remember on your birthday you’re only a day older than you were the day before. That’s kept me going. This year my husband outdid himself. He usually buys me a key lime cheese cake. He went for the extra large one and then he also bought a cherry pie. Needless to say we had a lot of dessert in a seldom dessert family

  3. Hi Kim! So glad I can make you smile – I think all of us are hurting for money nowadays so hang in. Yep, give me a modern day romance any day of the week and I’m happy!!!

  4. Janet, I just love that story. Dessert is perfectly sweet for a sweet relationship!!

  5. Roz Lee says:

    What a lovely story! I’ve always made a big deal out of birthdays for my kids, since mine has always been ignored. It falls on New Year’s Eve, so no shortage of parties, but not birthday parties. We can’t go out for a special dinner, because every nice restaurant has a special menu and they expect you to stay until midnight. Plus, when I was a kid, Christmas gifts doubled as birthday gifts.

    Yeah, it sucks, but no pity party for me. A while back, I unofficially moved my birthday to Jan 4th. Nothing ever happens on Jan. 4th!!

    We have an eleven year old lab, and she is slowing down. I’d max out every card we have to make her feel better!

    • jennifer121 says:

      OMG, that does suck! My friend’s is Christmas Eve and she always complains too and I don’t blame her. No gifts, just a combination. I LOVE that you unofficially moved your birthday – you are so cool. And I agree about you and the lab – I feel the same way about mine who is aging faster than I’d like. Thanks for commenting, Roz!!

  6. Erin Jamison says:

    I feel your pain Jennifer. At the start of the month, I had a birthday. Things have been really tight financially so we didn’t have the money to go out or splurge. So instead, I got a meal that satisfies…I got a Snickers bar.

  7. unikorna says:

    Happy Birthday, I wish you all the best things in life! Your husband is sooo sweet, so patient and loving. You seem to complete each other in a charming way. I would love to see some pics from the funny dinner :)).

  8. Liz says:

    So glad he supports you in your writing – sounds like he respects your craft 🙂 One of the most romantic things my husband did was build a frame for the certificate I got for winning the NERWA First Kiss Contest.

    As far as birthdays – I’m just happy that I get ice cream cake on my birthday.

  9. mamamash says:

    So true. Sometimes he’s better, sometimes I am. We carry each other, push each other, pull each other kicking and screaming through the rough parts. 🙂

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