Why I Skipped My Daughter’s Birthday

Right now, as we speak, I am sitting at a tranquil resort in Mexico. Sun is streaming in through my window, waves crashing outside of my balcony, my skin tingling from a day spent sailing on the ocean. And intermingled with the relaxed vibe that can only be found on vacation when you're a mom and absolutely nothing is expected of you is the teeniest, tiniest bit of guilt. Because I missed my daughter's birthday to be here. 

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Two days ago, our second oldest turned seven years old. She woke up at her grandma's house in the exact same moments I had pushed her into this world seven years ago. But I wasn't there to greet her or wish her happy birthday or hug her or kiss her. It breaks my heart a little to think about it. At the same time, I tried to convince myself that she is so loved and lucky to have even more family who stepped in in our stead to make the day special for her. Uncles who took her to breakfast and out for ice cream. Grandmothers who took her out shopping and stopped into class with her birthday treats. Let's be honest. In so many ways, she got a way cooler birthday than she would have had with me being home. 

Image via Chaunie Brusie

But still, the mama guilt is real. And, of course, the genuine sadness that I wasn't there for my daughter's birthday. We celebrated early before I left. But in our house, we've always made birthdays kind of big deal. Maybe it's because I myself love to celebrate my birthday all month long (ahem), but there's just something that I love about making my kids feel special on their big day. 

In making the decision to go or not to go on this trip, a work opportunity, I met with two very mixed reactions from all the parents I polled. Some said I was crazy to consider going and nothing can replace the memories of my daughter's birthday. On the other side, so many parents told me to go and focus on the fact that birthdays can be celebrated anytime and I would be a better mother and wife for it. 

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The general consensus seems to be that as parents and mothers, we do way too much for our kids these days, birthdays included. Every year, I have thrown giant parties and bent over backward to have friends over and do big, over-the-top events. And by the end of the birthday week, we are all cranky and exhausted and my bank account is not looking pretty. It comes from a real place of wanting to love on my kids, of course, but I am starting to wonder if everyone is right. Maybe doing too much for our kids' birthday has gotten a little out of hand. Maybe it is time to scale back and keep it simple and focus on loving each other and not a huge, giant party. 

This year, we definitely changed things up a bit. While I sipped drinks on the beach my daughter had cake with our families. And we both celebrated living a life where we are so very loved. In the end, that's what matters most anyway. 

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Why I Skipped My Daughter’s Birthday

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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