Food for Thought


Birthdays. Whether we acknowledge them, celebrate them, or ignore them, they happen anyway.  However, not all birthdays are created equal.  There are those we do not remember at all—ages 1, 2, and 3, where all we have to remember them by are pictures of icing or ice-cream smeared all over our little faces.  There are the ones we often remember: roller-skating parties, a sweet sixteen party, family birthday traditions, or low-key acknowledgments.  And frequently, many of us remember presents, at least the one or two that were really special to us.


In our youth, birthdays are often milestones we looked forward to: going to 1st grade, sleeping over at our best friend’s house for the first time, getting our driver’s license, graduating from high school—all of these events are generally tied to particular ages. After 21, the life upgrades associated with particular ages become a lot vaguer. Decades and life events become more significant.  When we get married, find a job, move away from home, buy a house, or have children—these events, rather than birthdays, become the markers in our lives.


And then there are the decades that follow: our 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond. Every decade—every year—brings significant changes in our lives, both good and bad.  We may retire, if we are lucky, we may achieve financial self-sufficiency, our children develop partnerships and some of us have grandchildren, dreams change, and of course, there are the losses. And then there is the distinction between how old we are in calendar time and what age we feel inside.  Let us talk about birthdays, what we love about them, what we hate about them, and why we care about age.


Questions to Consider:

  • What were birthdays like for you when you were a kid? How did your family celebrate birthdays?
  • Have birthdays felt significant to you, either when you were younger or now?
  • Did you look forward to becoming older when you were a kid? A teen? A young adult? Middle adulthood?
  • Have your feelings about birthdays changed? And if so, around what age?
  • Share a memorable birthday experience.

All rights reserved © 2020 Beth Firestein, Ph.D.                    Wise Women Group