By Lauren Jankowski
For the past few months, I’ve been helping out around the house while my mother undergoes treatment for myxofibrosarcoma (hence my absence from writing). She had to undergo major surgery and has had to return to the hospital for a couple more short stays. Most of my birthday was spent visiting her in the hospital, which I didn’t mind. I have never really enjoyed my birthday, even when I was younger. I never understood what the fuss was about and birthday celebrations always seemed to be more about other people than they were about the birthday girl.
When Mom had to go back to the hospital for a hematoma in mid-October, I was a bit more worried. Mostly for her, but a part of me worried about her missing my special day. We have a tradition in my family of observing the anniversary of when my brother and I came home. My brother came home on October 11th and I came home on October 24th. Mom has labeled these our “special days” and we observe them as a family, usually with just a small dinner.
A friend of mine, also an adoptee, recently told me that his family has a similar tradition, but they call it a “homecoming day”. We celebrated in a similar fashion: birthdays were for families and friends and special or homecoming days were for nuclear family only. I told him that one of the reasons I preferred my special day was the lack of cakes. My mother had the tendency to overdo things when Michael and I were growing up. We had a party to invite our friends to, a party for the extended family, and a party with just the four of us. The last week in September was often hell week for my mother: my father’s birthday is the 20th, my brother is the 23rd, and mine is the 27th. We usually wound up with 6 or 7 cakes in the fridge (2 for the friend party, 1 or 2 for the extended family party, and 3 for our actual birthdays). Needless to say, my mother was often heard asking, “Whose going to eat all this cake?!”
As we grew up, we maintained the tradition of celebrating our special days. I grew to appreciate the simple day more as the years went by. My parents wanted kids for so many years, so of course they wanted to celebrate the day that it actually happened. In a certain sense, those days in October are the anniversary when our lives actually began. Even when I went away to college, I remembered my special day and my mom did to. When I eventually move away, I’m sure the tradition will continue.
This year, my mother came home from the hospital on October 24th. She has been at home since and the day seemed to be the last stumble on her long road to recovery. I can’t think of a better thing to happen on my special day.