Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Birthdays Can Be Deadly...Or Not

Today is my birthday, and looking back, I have had some really fun birthdays--most of which thanks to my mom.  She would (and will) do anything to create a special day for us, down to spending hours in the intense August heat and humidity to make me the cabbage rolls and mashed potatoes that I requested for my birthday dinner when I was about eleven (and then subsequently did not eat because it was too hot).  I especially remember the year, probably when I was seven, that my mom created a scavenger hunt to find my big present.  At each clue there was something little that led me to find the doll I had been wanting hiding out in the potato bin.  Having a summer birthday, I had several pool parties; one was even crashed by a stray dog, but I don't think my mom planned that part (yeah, no--she knows I'm not a fan of animals).  For my thirteenth birthday my mom took me and a car load of my friends to the drive-in to see a So I Married An Axe Murderer.  Not to mention, my 21st at the local boat club.  (All decor that was stolen that night was returned the next day.)

And then there was the birthday when my mom tried to kill me.

Before I go any further with this story, let me just state for the record that I am blessed to have some of the most loving and nurturing parents out there.  The rest of this story is more a testament to my neurotic personality than to any of the parenting skills my mom and dad possess.

On my sixteenth birthday, I went to work at my new job at the library.  This was my dream job because I love the library.  When I was a little kid I always wanted to hide out in the bathroom when it closed for the evening so that I could spend the night there reading all the books.  Although, getting a job there kind of killed that idea when I realized that the library had motion sensor alarms.  Anyway, the library was a block from my house, so when my mom called to say that she was going to pick me up from work that night I thought it was a little strange.

I found it even stranger when she asked me to put on a blindfold upon getting into the car.  She explained by saying, "Dad is getting your present ready outside and I don't want you to accidentally see it."  This immediately made me heart sink, as I thought, Oh no, I'm getting a car for my birthday.  Now, you're probably thinking that this is the opposite reaction of most sixteen-year-olds.  Well, most sixteen-year-olds are excited about driving, but I wasn't.  I guess you could say that I wasn't overly successful at it (go figure, for those of you that are aware of my current driving record), and the prospect of getting a car would mean that I would actually have to get my license and drive it.

As we continued to drive around in the car with me in a blindfold, my thoughts went from thinking of cars to, Okay, we've been in the car a while now.  Wait, are we going up a hill?  Where could we possibly be going?!  And this is when my full blown irrational mode kicked in.  I have always had this problem where my mind will wander to these completely insane scenarios that I will then have to worry over.  For instance, when I was about ten, this thought occurred to me, Ohmygod, what if my parents are really criminals who kidnapped me from my real parents and I have no way of knowing!  I am embarrassed to admit that I actually entertained this thought--even as a kid.  I mean, what would a "criminal" get out of kidnapping a weird kid like me and taking care of her?  Not to mention, I have the NICEST parents!  I know, ridiculous.

So at this point, my heartbeat was quickening, my breathing was getting a little shallow, and my mind was starting to form a worry.  Where could my mom be taking me? Do I need to escape?  You see, around this time there was a story in the news about a mother who drove her kids into a lake and drowned them.  You might remember it.  I think this might have influenced my thinking (just a little).

The car finally stopped, and my mom said that she was going to help me to get out.  I could tell that I was walking on gravel.  WHAT!?  There's no gravel at our house!  As my mom slowly led me forward, I heard a little laugh that seemed to echo up to my ears.  An echo!  Am I at some kind of canyon or ravine?!  (Granted, there is not a canyon or ravine to be found in my town.)  And who could be laughing?!  Are there people here to watch?  At this point I was completely crouched down for fear of what would happen next.  I thought, perhaps, I could roll up into a ball when I was pushed into the ravine and save myself from injury.

My mom then carefully pulled the blindfold from my face, and instead of seeing my life flash before my eyes as I careened to my death at the bottom of a canyon....I saw all of my friends and family crowded together under the town shelter house screaming "SURPRISE!!"  
Actual birthday photo

So, in the end, my mom had once again went out of her way to make my birthday special by organizing a surprise party for me.  And, to think I thought she was trying to kill me. 

(Thank you Mom for all of the wonderful birthday celebrations that you have had for me!  And, thanks for understanding about my neurotic mind.)


  1. What a great story Gretchen. I can hear your voice as I read. I am loving your blog!

  2. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh...........I remember that like it was yesterday. Although, I don't remember you thinking your mom was trying to kill you but I totally believe you did! LOVE the book already & can't wait to buy my copy!

  3. You're welcome. Neurotic or not it has been the greatest pleasure to be your mom for the last 31derful years! Happy happy birthday, Gretch I love you to pieces! XXXOOO

  4. Happy Birthday Gretchen.I have enjoyed reading your stories so far , and hope to see many more!

  5. Happy Birthday Gretchen! I'm so glad Meghan shared your blog with me... can't wait to read more! Love you bunches! Aunt Kelly