There’s something truly wonderful about birthdays the older you get. Why? Because you can relax a little.
When you were a kid, it was all about the desperation of getting the right toy or game and hoping that the cool kids would come to the party.
Then it was coping with the agony of the party. For example, were my parents going to embarrass me even more than normal? What games would we play and would I enjoy them?
It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I was not exactly a sporty child. I preferred reading, so why I had birthday parties which revolved around the game of rounders is beyond me.
Teenage parties were less about the gifts and all about the opposite sex.
Building guest lists for those kind of birthday parties required more political nous than you’ll ever witness in the Westminster corridors of power.
It was so much more complicated before social media. You had to have some real connection, get over the shyness and communicate – unlike today where, I presume, you can happily stalk online before making an ether connection.
Birthday parties into my 20s were all about getting drunk (early 20s), making a home away from the parents (mid-20s), and having babies (late 20s).
Into my 30s and my parties all changed as my husband and son’s birthdays fall just a few days before mine. I never had the energy to do anything large involving vast amounts of people, alcohol or food.
Plus, with children in tow you start to build traditions. Like always being in France at a particular cottage, buying a luscious offering from the patisserie – but still primarily being on call as mum.
Now it’s all changed again. I’m no longer needed as mum in that constant way, so birthdays are becoming more about me again.
But the effort of gathering friends together from far and wide is too exhausting to begin to think about.
So for my 43rd last weekend, I had the birthday I always wanted. Cake for breakfast, reading a book I’d been given, pizza for lunch, more reading, a swim in the sea, finishing the book and a Chinese for tea. Purely self-indulgent, purely fattening, purely selfish and purely wonderful.