I'm watching Bethenny Ever After, the most recent episode where she has her birthday meltdown. And by the way, I love Bethenny... in my delusional happy land we are best friends and meet for light lunches and Skinny Girl Margaritas every Monday afternoon. I'm not completely off base, either. We've talked before. I have proof.
See? A budding relationship.
But I digress. Anyhow, so I'm watching this episode and the part where Jason (her husband, don't you know these things?) brings out the birthday surprise in front of everyone at her party almost made me cry. She so clearly does not know how to handle that kind of attention, and I get it 100%.
And you might say "C'mon, this is Bethenny Frankel. She has attention on her all the time. She loves that crap."
But no. For some weird reason, birthday attention is just different. In the episode Bethenny has a conversation with her make-up artist that hits the nail on the head. I'm paraphrasing here, but the make-up artist says to her something like "you either get too much attention or not enough" and then "you don't want to get disappointed, so you don't prepare yourself, and then you're disappointed because you didn't prepare."
And it was like an a-ha moment for me. Because that's exactly it. I think, for some reason, and I can only speak for myself, I've decided that I don't deserve that attention, so it's uncomfortable to receive it. For Bethenny, maybe it's because birthdays were probably a big disappointment for her based on her parents being suck ass, non-deserving of a kid, parents. So preparing herself for a big happy birthday is like setting herself up for disappointment... but then getting it without being prepared for it is completely uncomfortable and scary.
My parents don't suck at all. And my birthday was never forgotten (can you imagine how grown-up Samantha Baker might handle birthdays?) or understated when I was growing up. It wasn't like today's kids who get a themed party with friends invited every year, but my mom would make a spice cake and there would be presents and my grandmothers would send cards with money in them ($8 for my 8th birthday, $9 for my 9th, and so on) and I would get to pick what we had for dinner. And that was good. A couple of years I got to have a party and invite friends (my 7th and 16th) and on my 8th birthday my parents took my best friend and I to Disney World, which was awesome.
But I was never comfortable when all the attention was focused on me. When I was really little I would cry when people sang "Happy Birthday" to me. I remember the feeling, too. This desperate feeling of all the eyes being on me, singing, staring, expecting something. I hated it.
So I understood when Munchkin cried when she was younger, too. I remember one year telling my family that we wouldn't sing to Munchkin. We were just going to have the cake and open presents - no singing. They overruled me and sang anyhow (you have to sing, it's her birthday!) and she cried and I felt her pain.
Because there's just something about that birthday attention. There has to be some, but too much is a problem. A big 40th birthday celebration, complete with violinists using hot pink violins (what the hell was that?) and a Bravo TV crew, might be just a little too much for even the most seasoned celebrity.
And Jason being all "It hurt me so much that she wasn't excited. She should have fun because we put so much effort into it" made me want to smack him. He appears to be a great guy, truly... but projecting his own love of birthdays onto her and then expecting her to react the way he wants her to react is not supportive. "I wanted to tell her to suck it up. Sometimes you just have to put a happy face on."
It's her party, Mister Perfect Family, and she can cry if she wants to.