By Marlene Goldman
Many have quoted iconic Cicely Tyson, “age is just a number. Life and aging are the greatest gifts that we could ever have.” It’s so true that aging is such a privilege and a joy taken from so many people far too soon.
I’ve always been big on birthdays. I have an elaborate birth story that ends with my birthday being only 8 minutes after my mom’s birthday, so we still have our separate days. From taking big elaborate cakes to class in elementary school (is that still a thing?) to an elaborate bubble bath with stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, I’ve always found a way to celebrate even if I felt a little guilty doing so.
As I got older, pressure from others made me feel like birthdays are not worth the hype. I would hear, “getting older isn’t fun,” or “who cares? It’s just another day” and believe that my celebrations and energy were childish. This feeling heightened after moving over a thousand miles away from my mom and working full time. My birthday is right in between crunch time for the career industry I’m currently in, and it’s easy to skip over my birthday. I was in situations where the focus could not be on me, especially if I didn’t want to appear like an immature brat.
With milestone birthdays being fewer & farther in between, I see the value more so in celebrating birthdays. Celebrating the day you were born (in whatever that means to you) is more than wanting attention or looking for freebies, though I’m not going to turn a cheek to a bit of a birthday coupon. It’s a form of radical self-care. As Black women, so much is stacked against us. I think of the Black women whose lives were cut short and didn’t make it to their next birthday because of police brutality, misdiagnosis & improper medical care, domestic violence, untreated mental health issues & everything in between.
To celebrate a birthday is to celebrate life! Celebrate perseverance, resilience, strength, courage, joy, love, and YOU! Celebrate YOU, sis! Even if you can’t celebrate on your specific day, you can celebrate whenever & however you want. Emphasis on celebrating however you want; it’s your day to shine! If anything, look at your birthday as a way to say thank you & congratulating yourself for making it this far.
Again, happy birthday to my Mama. We’ll be together next year, my love, until then, celebrate all season long.
Marlene Goldman-Marlene Goldman is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC who loves a good outfit with a cupcake to match. If you’re looking for a better start to your Mondays, follow her on Instagram @mondayswithmarlene.