“But I Like My Birthday the Best!!”

Why didn’t anyone warn me about sibling birthdays?

How did every single one of my dear friends fail to mention the toenail-pulling torture that ensues when the younger sibling (the one who doesn’t understand gifts, cake, celebrations and confetti) is having a birthday and the older one (the one who does understand gifts, cake, celebrations and confetti) is not?

Or does every other mama on planet Earth have 3 year-old party cherubs who are super-uber pumped about their siblings getting all the birthday love?

NO ONE ANSWER THAT LAST QUESTION…NO ONE.

Anyway, this whole emotional turmoil started about February 1st, the day I got out the birthday countdown calendar for our soon-to-be-one-year-old.

“I want my birthday first!” 

“But I want to get presents!!” 

“It’s no fair!!!” 

“But why isn’t anybody excited about my birthday??” 

We answered his questions. We worked through his grief. We talked about the real meaning and purpose of birthday celebrations. We worked through more of his grief. We encouraged excitement over sustained life birthdays. We worked through even more of his grief. We even had a dance party each day we turned the calendar. We really, really, really tried to focus on the blessing of his sister’s birthday.

And then one day, about February 9th’ish, his tune changed its channel.

“Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!!! I know what I want to get Evie for her birthday! I want to get her a toothbrush for her new teeth and a baby stroller for her babies. I think she would like those gifts! Can I buy them for her?”

I’m not sure if part of my brain or heart exploded (probably a little bit of both), but I was thrilled. I affirmed his attitude change, applauded his thoughtfulness, and assured him that I would most definitely let him pick out both of those gifts for his sister.

And things were pleasant and things were peaceful…until the eve of her birthday.

As we were driving home from a mid-day errand, I informed our little guy that later that night, we would take a family trip to Target to purchase his birthday gifts for his sister.

Expecting excitement and a bunch of “woohoo’s,” I was completely thrown for a loop when he instantaneously started bemoaning the birthday hype and wailed at the top of his little lungs, “But I like my birthday the best!!!”

Translation: I DON’T WANT TO CELEBRATE ANYONE ELSE EXCEPT ME. 

YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!! Haven’t we already processed this anguish??? For crying out loud, why can’t he just be excited about his sister’s birthday?!?! 

But before I opened my mouth to address his hysterics, the Lord reminded me of something that I have been recently realizing in my own life.

It’s not always easy to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” 

In fact, I’m pretty convinced that there’s a really great reason why Paul included this exhortation to the believers in Rome when he was outlining the true marks of a believer.

But why would Paul include this in his character sketch of a Christian? What’s so hard about rejoicing and being glad? Didn’t he know that everyone likes a good, happy clappy??

Well, probably because Paul knew that sometimes rejoicing with others doesn’t always feel like a good, happy clappy. In fact, sometimes rejoicing is really, really hard…like the times we’re called to “rejoice with those who rejoice” over the things that we do not have, but really, really want. 

Like…

…when that friend is pregnant with another child.

…when that colleague gets the job you wanted.

…when that mama’s baby sleeps through the night.

…when that family takes a Caribbean cruise.

…when that church member’s service is lauded.

…when that neighbor buys a new car.

…when that couple gets engaged.

…when that sibling excels.

…when that family buys a brand-new home.

…when that co-worker’s efforts are showcased.

…when that other ministry thrives.

…when that other wife gets some new bling.

…when that friend’s kid knows all their letters.

…when that soul on Facebook loses 17 pounds.

…when that other stay-at-home mom gets asked to speak at the next MOPS meeting.

…when that other blog gets recognized.

…when that family is able to save for their kids’ future educations.

…when that fellow peer gets a promotion.

You get the point.

Rejoicing can be hard…really, really hard.

So should I have been so taken aback when my son had to repeatedly work through his grief over his sister’s birthday hype?

Nope…Not. at. all.

“Rejoicing with those who rejoice” is a commitment. It’s a choice. It’s a character trait that is grown and groomed.

And when we do it (even when it’s really, really hard), I believe the Lord probably feels (in part) how we felt as we watched our son march into Target (without a single complaint or tear) and pick out a pink baby stroller and a My Little Pony toothbrush with a happy, rejoicing heart.

And though I was fully prepared that yesterday (the big birthday day) might be filled with some more emotional angst, it wasn’t.

NOT. AT. ALL.

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7 thoughts on ““But I Like My Birthday the Best!!”

  1. This really hit home for me…and something I need to remember almost every minute of the day. My middle kid has her birthday in February, while oldest has hers in April, and it’s almost always a time of angst for her because the attention is placed on middle. I am always reminding her that she’ll have her time in the spotlight in two months. Her head gets it, but her heart still tries to remember it. I need to remember this, myself. That I should rejoice with others, and that my time to rejoice will come soon enough.

  2. Recently I’ve received recognition and award at work and instead of fully rejoicing in it, you know what I’ve found myself doing? Retreating and shrinking. Minimizing. And why? Because I’m afraid that in my (God’s) well deserved, earned success and acknowledgment of that others will turn on me, be jealous of me or start to dislike the fact that I’m singled out and they haven’t been acknowledged in that way (yet). But then I realized what that does… In minimizing my joy to alleviate somebody else’s jealousy or pain, which may or may not exist and for which I am not responsible, no one is fully experiencing the joy of life that God would like us to realize. And as we are merely stewards of everything in our life, including our work, our bodies, our money, our talents and gifts, even our success and achievement…. That means that when we do not rejoice as others rejoice, God will be not be fully glorified, and that’s the real tragedy because as were celebrating ourselves and each other we’re actually also celebrating God. To miss the joy is to miss God’s ever present and pervasive surprise party.

  3. I think this is spot on. I’ve battled envy on multiple fronts more than once… with relationships, with professional success, with recognition. Ugh. It’s such a hard thing to acknowledge that we “don’t want to celebrate anyone except me.” What a beautiful gift the Lord gives us when He helps us confess this and open our hearts to the work He is willing and ready to do…. to make us more about Him and His glory than our own. Good words here, friend!

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