Birthdays and special occasions were always a let down in my marriage, I’m not going to dwell on the specifics of what used to happen or why but they always were. As a result, it made me every year build them up into something bigger, wishing, wanting and expecting even more to make up for the previous year, only to be let down. My mum has always taught me to expect nothing and then you’re never disappointed and anything you do get is a bonus. I’ve also had a very wise lady who I respect very much tell me for years that the only person responsible for your happiness is you, I never really fully understood either until now.

Deep down I’m actually not someone who likes a big deal out of my birthday making, I hate going into work a people knowing and saying or doing things, it makes me feel uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely to have people do kind gestures and wish you a good day etc and I completely appreciate it, it’s humbling and warm to know people care. However, I also worry people feel obligated to, I don’t ever want anyone to feel they ever have to do, buy or attend anything if they don’t wish. So actually, me building up my birthday into something was out of my character. It actually said more about my relationship with my ex-husband and what I wanted that relationship to be. I was wanted grand gestures and declarations of love through special occasions like birthdays when really those things mean nothing, it’s what’s happening day to day in a relationship that matters. It’s the day to day happiness, love, care and support through the rough, the smooth and the mundane 9-5 life that counts and matters most, anything else is just a bonus, the icing on the cake and an extra plus point.

Anyway enough about the past, the reason this year’s birthday was the best for a long time was because I’ve come a long way in the past year, I’ve gone back to the old me, pre-marriage and I’m enjoying life for what it really is. My birthday was a work day, but the day before was my day off so I used that as my opportunity to celebrate with my best girl, toddler P. I went for brunch with a lifelong good friend in the morning, we went to one of our usual haunts, ate toast with jam, shared a bakewell slice and chewed the fat. We laughed, gossiped and put the world to rights like we usually do whilst toddler P played happily in the play area, drawing, cooking and reading with her best friend Hoppity.

I love my coffee mornings with this friend, she’s known me for all my life practically and the pair of us have battled through lots together over the years, she’s honest, friendly, supportive and a right good laugh! So who better spend the morning with. Then after nap time, my side kick and I ventured off to our favourite play farm, the mothership also joined us and we spent the afternoon as the 3 amigos, the female 3 musketeers, brushing donkeys, feeding the lambs, watching the tortoise having a s**g (yes honestly!!) and playing on the swings and slides. We picnicked, we played, we wandered, we rode on tractors, we laughed and laughed and laughed. Then went home for, “pizza, pizza, pizza!! Mummy!!!” And had doughnuts with birthday candles stuck in. We had fun, it was simple, it wasn’t expensive, it was just us and it was great. I took joy out of being with my girl and my mum for the day. I took joy out of their smiles and I took joy out of the simple things (like my best friend posting me a plastic turd for my birthday present!) and I took joy out of just being happy and content with the day and my life as it is.

I had the best birthday ever because a year on I’m relaxing and just letting life be. I’m enjoying life for what it should be. This time last year, I still built my birthday up, it was my first without my ex-husband and after leaving him I made a sort of bucket list, I lost of things I could now do and enjoy. A list of things that would be different and better and my birthday was one of them, I knew I could have special occasions that were fun and celebrated but in doing so, last year it was still a let down because I mentally built it up to be something it didn’t need to be. In my head it was going to be the best day ever because it was my first one since being free, but in reality it wasn’t, I was too emotional and worked about making it good that I didn’t enjoy it. This year, I just rolled with it, I planned a simple day, me and the crazy two, the weather looked forecast to be poor so the best laid plans could’ve gone pear shaped but because I was chilled it didn’t matter, we’d have had fun regardless.

This is probably the biggest lesson I’ve learnt since leaving my ex-husband. That I can just relax and enjoy life for what it is. At first I was so focused on surviving, on living and loving life, on making everything perfect and good that I was just running on adrenaline and in my highest gear. As soon as I realised this and slowed down, took a deep breath and mentally cruised along a bit, I was not only able to survive but the enjoy things, I was able to actually live and love life. I was able to take enjoyment out of the day to day simple things that matter. I was able to just be.

So thank you everyone for your wishes, genuinely for the first time in a very long time, this was the best birthday ever.

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