Hi Rene,

I think I may be officially the worst mom in the world. I actually forgot my son’s birthday!

My son Kyle is 12 years old and last Saturday was his birthday. I work a full time job and my ex-husband and I have been going through a lot of stuff in the courts regarding custody and financial arrangements. It’s just been such a stressful and emotional time I completely forgot, until Kyle told me at the end of the day – and broke my heart.

Honestly Rene, I cried and cried that night and I just don’t know how to make it up to my son. Kyle was really hurt and has been subdued and sad ever since. Every time I bring it up he gets angry and says he doesn’t want to talk about it. So should I just move on and give him time? Or should I set another date and spoil him rotten?

What would you do Rene? Have you ever done anything even resembling this? I’m sure you haven’t!

Thanks

Andrea, Dallas

Oh Andrea:

WHAT?! You’re kidding right? Look, I don’t mean to make you feel worse than you already do but wow. And you say Kyle is hurt, sad and subdued ever since? Can you blame him? The lives of kids are relatively routine, punctuated with the high points like Christmas and birthdays, the latter of which is all about them. You took the one day in his little life where he got to be special, where it was going to be all about him and, however unintentional, spit all over it.

Look I know this has been a trying time for you but in this day and age with iCal and alarms on PDA’s nothing should be forgotten (heck, that’s how the tooth fairy “remembered” to stop by our house for years and years). But beyond that, I have hard time understanding how you could forget such a monumental time in not just his life but also yours. It’s not everyday you labor for 14 hours (give or take a few) and then pop out something as precious as your own flesh and blood. That in and of itself should set some sort of internal device. But what’s done is done and now you have to deal with the fallout. I’m no psychologist or even an expert, but I cannot imagine any of this is going to be easy. You have to deal with this on two fronts: Yours and Kyle’s.

KYLE: You asked me if I had ever done anything like this before. The only thing I can think of was once when my son had to go to the emergency room and the triage nurse asked me if he was allergic to penicillin. I don’t know if it was the stress of the event but I literally could not get my wits about me enough to remember which of my kids was allergic to the antibiotic. But, and this is not to claim some moral superiority, I have never forgotten their birthdays.

I think you’re going to have to wait for Kyle to process some of his anger. How long that takes is anybody’s guess. Then you can explain to him what you told me here; that you have a lot on your plate and you it slipped your mind. The problem is that even a 12 year old can understand that people don’t forget the stuff that is important to them and what your actions showed your pre-teen is that he was at the bottom your list. Not sure how you’ll explain that. After your heartfelt apology I would ask Kyle what he wants to do for his birthday celebration and whatever it is, you’d better be prepared to do it, be it a trip to Hawaii or a weekend of laser tag.

YOU: Time to take a peek inside and see what’s really going on. Are you angry? Sad? Frustrated? Tired? All of the above? Now might be a good time to see a therapist about how and why this happened. If it truly was an oversight, figure out a way to make sure it doesn’t happen again (the aforementioned iCal/PDA alarm). Maybe you need to reevaluate your priorities and spend more time with the important stuff and less on the things that won’t matter in the long run. But honestly, as I stated before, I really have a hard time believing you forgot without an undercurrent of something else going on. You need to find out what that is and do something about it.

I’m sorry to say, mommy, you might be dealing with this for a while. I hope that is not the case but don’t be surprised if it is.

Good Luck.

Rene

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