Today is not my birthday. Yesterday was not my birthday. The day before yesterday… was. Yet, I woke up yesterday expecting that it should still be my birthday – you know, treats, party hats and special treatment. I call this the birthday-princess mentality. It happens.
The birthday princess mentality is kin to other princess mentalities — you know, the date-princess, the shopping-princess, the napping-princess. You get the idea. It’s as if whenever some delightful thing/event/outing happens, it ought to continue happening, I mean, I am the birthday (or whatever) princess after all.
I woke up this morning to the reality of Monday, and like most Monday’s, I felt the night’s sleep was entirely too brief and the morning came far too soon. The morning was ushering in the day that held much to be done. I knew much was on the list of to-do’s — but I was still feeling too-special-to-work — and then came the nearly startling reality: What? It’s not my birthday?!?!
I must accept the reality that birthdays are a once-a-year deal. Regrettably, it’s only once a year the birthday princess can wear her tiara (and get away with it). At Claire’s the other night (on my birthday) I was looking over the displays of barrettes and hairbands and noticed a beautiful diamond tiara. Setting my handbag down and adjusting the tiara on my head, I whispered, psssssst, to my husband and daughter in another part of the small shoppe. They were amused. They did not buy me the beautiful tiara.
I knew at that moment I had few precious hours left to be the birthday princess. Even still, no tiara.
Just to clarify, I’m not talking about the princess complex (though I think we all occasionally have, or suffer, the princess-complex from time to time). The princess-complex is that overarching need to be found desirable. The desire to be the darling — the center of attention. Or, maybe for others (and I’m not referring to this either), the Cinderella complex – you know, the strong need/wish that someone will come rescuing from whatever oppressive/poor/neglected/unloved current plight — that surely there’s a prince out there that will make all the troubles of the world go away and life will be convenient, rich and effortless.
No, the birthday-princess mentality is much simpler that all that. It’s just the delight in being made to feel special for the day. The normal routines are sort of set aside. Maybe that’s why it’s so fun. Sort of like dressing up, eating fine foods at a fancy restaurant – eating a delicious meal you don’t plan for, shop for, cook or clean up after. For most of us, it’s not real life — for most of us, the other side is more our daily life — you know, the planning, cleaning, washing, cooking, serving and cleaning up the kitchen afterward. So it’s the sweet stuff that makes for the birthday princess dreams.
In reality, some of us can’t really take too much of the birthday princess pampering. I know it’s usually way too much for me to have the extra attention — to be on the receiving end of the service. Even more, it’s hard for me not to keep doing or want to keep doing chores.
Our daughter, Kathryn, prepared the most delicious meal the other night for my ‘family birthday’ dinner. So many delicious foods – she made beautiful hors d’Oeuvres, salad, roast and baked potatoes; the softest fresh potato rolls… Omy – sooo good! And to finish the meal, she served a delicious dessert. She’d even gotten flowers!! She made the whole birthday meal look and taste beautiful — it was all delightful. And as if that weren’t enough, she also prepared an exquisite birthday breakfast for the whole family here the next morning — that was in addition to a birthday coffee and a special birthday dessert made for our church meal. All the while she was preparing to go out of town for a couple of weeks — but that didn’t hinder her generosity.
I loved watching her work/create all the different dishes. Though she often shooed me out of the kitchen, I found it so hard to stand by and just watch. So, whenever I could, I washed a bowl or scrubbed a pan… trying to shadow her as she cooked. She told me, no, no, no… it’s your special day – you’re the birthday princess!
And then it dawned on me: Yes! Yes, I was born to be a princess. But I was also born to work.
And I’m so glad.