June 26, 2006

"How old are you?"...."I'm going on 31"

Disclaimer: This post is going to be long and probably a bit whiney at times. Yes, I know that you all were waiting for the tales of turning 30 and believe me, it was the BEST birthday ever. But, because Troy is so fabulous and did so much to make me have a perfectly special day, I feel like he earned a post strictly dedicated to how great and wonderful he is, and how great and wonderful my birthday was. But, before I can get to all of that, I really really have to get something off of my chest. So, here goes.

If you are a reader of my blog you know that I turned the big 3-0 on Saturday. This is a huge milestone in my life. I set some pretty lofty goals for myself prior to turning 30, namely challenging myself to a marathon, and I did it. I-RAN-A-MARATHON. Before-I turned-30. So, I've been super proud of myself over the last few weeks. And I was strolling into 30ness with a bright smile and an optimistic outlook on the next 30 years.

Now, if you read my blog, you might remember that I mentioned (okay, whined, griped, moaned) about how no one..count them people..not one single person in my family called to wish me good luck, premarathon, or congratulations, post marathon. No one. Nada. None. And it hurt. Alot. And my blogger friends came through and said no, no, no. It's not that they don't care about you, it's just that don't care about running. And I believed ya'll. I really really did. And especially when I finally told my family about the marathon and they seemed half-heartedly impressed. I was happy. I thought I had won in their eyes. And I thought the fellow bloggers were right....

But, what I failed to mention is that my family is sorta crazy. They do some weirdo things that no one can explain and I guess I just always dealt with it. NO, what I did was try to be the peace maker. I have always wanted everyone to be happy and feel loved. On birthdays I organize the party, cook, make sure everyone has brought a present or card (or I get them one if they need me to). On Mothers/Fathers Day, I cook again, make sure there are lots of presents for all. I send my parents an anniversary card every single year. When my dad and my brother quit smoking I sent them happy cards to let them know that I was proud of them, that I was there for them, and that I cared. When my dad forgets what he got my mom for her birthday, I remind him. And I remind him where he hid it. When my sister needs help with her finances, I listen and give advice even though I know she won't follow through with what I said. Or when her apartment got so wrecked because she is a single mom and works a million hours a week, I went over and cleaned for...on more than one occasion. When I go out of town I always bring presents back for my niece and nephews. When no one else wants to play with those rugrats, I'm there to chase them around and play hide and seek. When everyone is mad at everyone else, I'm the one that listens. I am the one that cares truly for all of these people. I used to think that I would give anything to make sure they all had a smile on their face. Not any more.

You see, because since I turned 30, no one has called. Sure, my true and trusty friends have. Heck, even Troy's friends who haven't known me for that long called and sang me a birthday serenade. But, not my mom, dad, brother, sister, niece, 2 nephews, or grandmother called. And today is day #3 with no call. No call people! How could someone that went through labor, changed my dirty diapers, probably stayed up while I cried through the night (as a baby and as a teenager) could that person forget that I had a birthday. And forget for 3 solid days???? I just saw everyone that I mentioned last Sunday for Father's Day. We talked briefly about that fact that I had a birthday coming up. I'll give them one day. I really thought surely by Sunday I would get a call. From someone. Anyone. But, here it is 6:30 pm three days into being 30 and nothing.

And it hurts alot. Alot more than the marathon. Alot more than when they forgot my 27th birthday. Or the Christmas in 2002 when they forgot to buy me any presents and didn't realize until everyone had opened their gifts and I had nothing. Or on my 18th birthday, the first time that I remember them forgetting. Or when I graduated from high school and my grandmother said she would be there and decided at the last minute to go see my uncle instead. It hurts alot more than that.

And I sortof feel stupid. That I have spent the last 30 years trying to be everything to them. Trying to make the best grades and get the best job and do the right thing, or do what I thought they would want me to do. I feel stupid for going the extra mile for birthdays. Even just last Sunday when my brother called and hadn't bought my dad anything yet for fathers day and I was in the bookstore and found just the right book for my dad, while I was on crutches and couldn't walk and hold his book and mine in my hand so I had to stand there and wait until Troy came back to help me to the register. I did that.

And I feel angry for thinking that they would ever ever stop for one moment in their busy lives to say thanks. To say Happy Birthday. To say I care enough about you to give you just a portion of what you give us. I didn't want a big party or some fancy presents or some special card. I just wanted a Happy Birthday. From the people who are supposed to be there when no one else is. This year it was Katherine and John and Pam and Mike and Scott and Jennifer and Jennifer and Barclay and Justin and Sandra and Estella and Anna and Chef Eddie and all my blogger friends and all the peeps at work who sang to me today and most importantly Troy. They were all there when no one else was. And I am truly thankful for that. I really really am. But it doesn't erase the hurt, or that lump in my throat when I think about the fact that the phone hasn't rung.

And while I am truly sad about this and vow to never treat my children like that, I am taking the high road and acting like a 30 year old. I'm not going to whine or complain or cry anymore. Instead, I'm going to focus on making the next 30 years the best possible. I'll still send my cards and put thought into my gift buying but no more stress from trying to organize the party on a day that is perfect for everyone else. No more calling and reminding everyone that it's grandma's birthday next week. No more cancelling fun shoppping trips with my friends because I've got some family event coming up. My friends asked first. They always do. No more going out of my way for my biological family.

And I'm not going to be bitter. I am excited that I realized how foolish I've been before I turned 50 or 78 or 93. I'm glad that it took just one little birthday to make me realize what is important. I am strolling into 30ness with a bright smile and an optimistic outlook on the life ahead of me.

And I'm so glad that I'm thirty.


runnergirl said...

First of all, happy birthday! It sounds like you are entering your 30's much more gracefully than I did! I spent the 6 months prior to my 30th birthday in a mild state of depression over it, and the years since in denial.

Families can be a struggle. Hang in there, girl! Sounds like you are trying to be thankful for what you do have and not concentrating on what's missing. Good for you!

JustJunebug said...

oh how i remember it was yesterday...literally.

embrace every day of every year because its true what they goes faster and faster and before you know it, you're my age, which is cool actually. you grow more and more each year.

i read this entry and my mouth quite literally was open at some parts. even though your birthdays end up eventually just being another day in yet another year, you still deserve something.

hell i wish my mom happy birthday on MY birthday and tell her thank you for bringing me into this world.

and my family doesnt get running either. when i told my mom just yesterday that i was about to start training for my first half marathon, she said to me "what is that? like 1/2 mile?" oh Lord...shes really old so i forgive her.


thatredheadedlady said...

Love ya, girl! Wish I could make up for them forgetting, but I know I can't. Just know that we do love you and are here for you!

a.maria said...

oh man, sorry i missed it... happy belated birthday! i just got home from working out and i'm starved, so i'm going to come back to read this in a bit, but i wanted to wish you a happy first monday of being 30!!

not quite as good as an actual happy birthday, but pretty close?!?!! :)

a.maria said...

oh man... as a 26 year old freaking out just about turning 27... in six months... i'm afraid i don't have much advice on the subject.

as for the other... i don't really know what to say. all i do know is you've got a lot of people out there, from that list you gave of people that did remember, that obviously care very much for you. and i know they're no replacement for a family, but i hope you do realize how amazing you are. how much you have accomplished in your thirty years, and to us bloggers, how inspirational and motivating you are!!

i would love to be where you are with your relationship with troy and your friendships and your career when i turn 30!!!

so.. once again, happy birthday, and thanks for sharing yourself with all of us!

Liv said...

Amy, how do you stay so strong? Seriously. You are one amazing woman - there are very few people who go out of their way for others like you do, who go "the extra mile" - so to speak. Just remember to take care of yourself first! The fam no doubt loves you very much, they just don't seem to understand the importance of remembering the way you do. Lucky that you have a great group of supportive friends, and of course, a wonderful boyfriend.

Cheers, darlin' - keep your head high and your feet moving forward :)

John said...

Y'know, I didn't get a whole lot out of my college experience. Let's be honest, here. I paid them a whole bunch of money to teach me not much that is applicable to the real world so that I could get this piece of paper and get a job doing things that I already knew how to do. That's mostly what I got out of college.

But I also got you as a friend, and that's a bonus that makes it worth it.

I'm sorry your family sux and don't realize what they have in you. Because we do.

We love you.


pinaypower said...

wow, you're a stronger woman than i'll ever be. cheers to you and your fabulous looking back, just looking forward to what the future has in store! :)

Ursa said...

Amy, HAPPY 3-0! I am close behind. Will turn 30 in about 6 months and am trying to accomplish a 1/2 marathon before for the first time. You are more then awesome inspiration!

I love the way you write and this post hit close to home for me. I find turning 30 liberating as I am finaly standing more for myself and putting me first in a lot of things. I wish you all the best!!!

Anne said...

Granted, I read too much Dear Abby. But I came from similar kin and have some advice. Did you ever stop to think that your pitching in all these years just enabled your family's dysfunctional behavior? Why put yourself through so much for so little in return? Granted, givers enjoy doing what they do for the sake of giving, but why not bestow that generosity on people who care -- like Troy, your close friends or even strangers (nursing home residents, battered women's shelter children) that truly appreciate your effort?

Pardon my French, but we all come from fucked-up families. Everyone does. And anyone that tells you they grew up on Walton Mountain can thank some pharmaceutical company 'cause it ain't real. Every clan has at least one member that makes life temporarily miserable for one and all. Some get loaded down with them. Yours sounds like one of the latter.

Your 30s won't be any better if you don't divorce yourself from the dysfunction you'd tried to mend through all the cards, gifts and parties. Focus on the people who give in return. In time, your family will come around or you'll have created your own -- full of people who deserve you.

jeff said...

happy birthday, amy!

first off, let me say that you had smsmh and i in TEARS after reading your comment yesterday. i haven't laughed that hard in a long time!

the whole family thing...ugh. in situations like that, you have to, like anne said, divorce yourself from the disfunction. best wishes for weathering this rough patch.

Amy said...

anne, you put a big smile on my face with that Walton Family comment. You are too funny. But, seriously, you just said everything I didn't want to admit.

Thanks for making me think like a big girl, swallow my medicine, and move on!

You guys are the best!!!

Wanna-be 5k-er said...

Happy birthday, to you
Happy birthday, to you
Happy birthday, Dear Amy
Happy birthday, to you

You have accomplished more before/at 30 than I did or will dream of. Just know that you inspire me (a totally new reader).

Now, if you inspire ME, some random person in cyberspace, how can your family not be inspired by you, too? GRRRR. They have to be noticing, right? But families are weird, we all know it. And sucky sometimes, too. Ok, sometimes they are sucky a lot.

Like justjunebug, my mouth was hanging open a few times. At some point you have to live for *you*--even though you are "wired" to think of others so darn much--and stop being "there" for them so much.

I'm a peacemaker, too, so I understand. It ain't easy. So I'm sending you virtual props for all the times you have been an example of selflessness to others, and virtual GL to not be so darn accessible to them for awhile. You don't deserve to be hurt.

GL. And I can't tell you how impressed I am at how you have looked 30 in the eye and kicked it's butt. I didn't handle it half as well.

Liz said...

Happy Birthday! I kept checking to get the update on your birthday bash! I bet it was great!!!

Family Sucks!!! :)

I live 10 hours away from my family and my husband in deployed....has anyone come down to visit me? NO!!! I have 3- 2 year olds...I could use a break! Family Sucks!!!

Just my opinion

Steffany said...

I am both saddened and delighted by this post. The maturity that I read through your pain is inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing this story, and for so clearly being a woman of integrity and conviction! I simply can't believe how much grace and beauty you have displayed through these circumstances...I want to cry just thinking about it.