BY MIA FREEDMAN
“I would rather earn money than be with my kids on their birthday” says UK social commentator Katie Hopkins. “Why is this is so hard to understand? Work today. Enjoy tomorrow more.”
Let’s park Katie and that controversial statement for a moment and ask a simpler question: Is it ever OK to miss your kid’s birthday? OK or not, sometimes it’s unavoidable.
This one time, I missed my son’s birthday. It wasn’t like I forgot it – although if you ask me the birthdays of each of my kids, I have to pause for a moment to get all the numbers right. I’ve never been good with dates.
No, I missed it because I had to work. As he is the youngest of my three children, I’d already clocked quite a few kid birthdays: 23 of them to be exact. They do tend to blur a bit, to be honest.
But I won’t pretend I wasn’t anguished by the thought of not being there when he woke up. In our house, like most I imagine, the formal part of birthday festivities occur in the morning as soon as the birthday person wakes up. We all pile into our bedroom and sing and unwrap presents and there’s always one from the dog or at least a card.
A few years ago, however, when my baby was turning two, I wasn’t there. Instead, I was climbing on board the Prime Ministerial jet waiting to interview Julia Gillard and frantically looking for a pen.
It was during the 2010 election campaign and I’d been waiting to hear from the PM’s office when she’d be available for an interview. When the call finally came and they told me I’d have to fly down to Melbourne to interview her on a plane back to Sydney, I tried to negotiate a different date. Overhearing the conversation, someone on the MM team turned to me after I hung up the phone and said, “did you really ask the Prime Minister to move her schedule to accommodate you?”
Well, when you say it like that it sounds kind of arrogant but HE IS MY BABY.
Turns out Julia couldn’t change her schedule for my toddler and I couldn’t refuse the opportunity to interview her, so I flew down to Melbourne the night before my son’s birthday and sucked it up like this:
Before I went though, I realised something pretty great. Because he was only turning two, he had no idea when his birthday was. In fact, the whole concept of a birthday was still a bit loose. So I changed it.
I moved his birthday to the following day. Just for that year. It worked well.