I was talking to my Mom this afternoon. Ten minutes into the conversation, She mentions, “So, I spent a good deal of time this morning responding to all the Mother’s Day greetings I received”. 

“I totally Forgot. Happy Mother’s Day!”, I responded. Sheepishly.

As a kid, I loved celebrating birthdays. At some point, I stopped caring about birthdays. A side effect of this was that I wasn’t religious about keeping track and wishing others on their birthdays. Imaginably, this led to some “argggh” moments with my friends when I didn’t wish them on their birthdays. Thankfully, they accepted my quirk. This was a less painful way to ensure fewer “argggh” moments than to try and change me, they decided.

Enter Facebook. Now, there is no longer any excuse for forgetting anyone’s birthday. Fair Enough. Except that I quit Facebook in 2011. Back to Square one. But that’s a topic for another day.

In I thought It Was Just Me (But It isn’t), Brene Brown talks about guilt and shame, and mentions how she would feel embarrassed about forgetting someone’s birthday. She decided to confront her guilt and embarrassment as follows: Remembering birthdays was important to her; she also acknowledged that work and parenting require a lot of flexibility. So she stocks up on belated birthday wishes cards along with regular birthday cards.

While Brown’s book is powerful and deserves mention on various relevant topics, today it had the effect of reminding me of the following incident.

In 2006, I was having dinner with a friend and his girlfriend (now wife) in Maryland. Halfway through the meal, she excused herself and said “Today is my second cousin’s daughter’s birthday. I have to call her and wish her before she goes to school.” And she excitedly got on the phone and made the phone call. After 15 minutes, she returned back and we finished our meal.

I noted how she remembered the birthdays of even distant relatives, and was diligent about wishing them. 

On my drive back home, I had a sudden realization. I had forgotten someone’s birthday! I, too, made a phone call to India.

“Hi Prahalad!”, chimed the warm voice from the other end. 
“Happy Birthday Mom!”

Image Credit: Wolfi Korn from clipproject.info

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