Because I pray for nothing less than Jesus to descend on a unicorn to deliver all of my presents, birthdays can be a little rough for me. When I turned 38, I was hoping for lunch at the Jefferson or the VMFA or Buckingham Palace but my son suggested his new favorite, Mr. Submarine, and that's where we went. Grasping desperately at some frayed illusion of classiness, I ordered a salad. Big mistake. Don't order a t-bone from a juice bar or a salad from Mr. Submarine. As I hacked at my enormous brick of iceberg lettuce, my husband and son began to sing....Happy Birthday To You. Everyone turned around to stare, wondering I'm quite sure, who would take their beautiful, exotic queen of a wife and mother to Mr. Submarine for her birthday. "I hate you," I hissed, three little words, that for some reason, my son never forgot. "Mom said she hates us" he pipes up every couple of weeks for the next two years. "I DON'T HATE YOU" I yell back. "It was just a figure of speech!" But he doesn't believe me.
So this year, in an attempt to bring healing to our troubled past, my husband suggested we go out to dinner on the eve of my 40th birthday...to Mr. Submarine. If life ever offers you the rare chance to display gratitude and grace rather than entitlement and misery, take it. "Let's go," I said, but first I must get ready." And I put on the brand new sparkling faux diamond tiara a beloved student had left on my front porch that very afternoon. This time I ordered the steak and provolone sub with french fries and a coke and it was DELICIOUS. When my husband and son sang happy birthday, I sang with them. "How old's your son turning?" a family asked us on our way out the door. "Oh it's not his birthday," I said to them with a big smile. "It's mine."