Family has planned nothing for my birthday
October 26, 2020 7:41 AM   Subscribe

My birthday is tomorrow. I flew out to visit my parents, and so far nothing is planned. I asked for a specific restaurant and after reminding them they said it was booked. effort to figure out something else. I'm feeling disappointed and considering flying home early.

I rarely see my parents, and I thought it would be a nice treat to see them for my birthday. But the entire trip has been a disappointment. No effort whatsoever to acknowledge my presence or plan anything (down from the bed not being made). I know they suffer from depression and they love me in their own way, but I'm stressed about other things in my life and I kind of regret coming and just want to go home. But I'm worried that I will regret not spending time with my parents or my birthday with them.

What should I do? I could plan something for myself, but I am honestly tired and don't want to do a lot of work on planning. It's also depressing to spend it alone when I fly back, because I hadn't anticipated them not putting in any effort.
posted by treetop89 to Human Relations (37 answers total)
I think you should make your own plans for your birthday and include your parents. It doesn't have to be a lot of work -- pick a restaurant and make a reservation, and let the restaurant know it's your birthday so maybe they can do something special for dessert.

I'm sorry you're not getting the birthday you wanted, and I'm sorry your parents aren't putting in even a minimal effort. I know it's tempting to leave early. But I think that will make you feel worse in the end than just making plans yourself and spending the time with your parents.
posted by mekily at 7:50 AM on October 26 [41 favorites]

Before deciding to fly back early, I assume you know them well enough to be certain they're not telling a white lie because they made some arrangements and want them to be a surprise?
posted by troywestfield at 7:54 AM on October 26 [11 favorites]

It's not quite the point, but maybe you just need to sit down and talk to them together for a few minutes and hash this out? Like her it's my birthday and it's really important we do something together. Can we make a plan right now? Try and come up with at least one alternative restruant (or cuisine) that would work for you in advance, but do give them the space to think of something too.

I do wonder if there are some unspoken pademic concerns if this isn't usual for your family? But it doesn't sound like it from your point of view
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:54 AM on October 26 [19 favorites]

Leaving in a huff seems like one of those things that would feel good in the moment but would be something you'd regret later. AlexiaSky (above) has some solid advice. Take the lead, but also involve your parents in planning something.
posted by alex1965 at 7:59 AM on October 26 [10 favorites]

Is leaving early a way to let them know how upset you are? If so, better to stay and talk to them as AlexiaSky suggests. Or is it because you genuinely want to be alone /not with them / back home? If so, leaving might be the right thing to do.
posted by Zumbador at 8:01 AM on October 26 [3 favorites]

In the movie version, they've planned this huge elaborate party & have kept it secret from you.

In another version from a slightly less manipulative movie, you sit down with them & talk about what you had hoped for from your visit, and about how you love them but you're still a bit disappointed about how things are between you. They'll listen & understand & learn something, and you'll all hug and have a memorable birthday of a different kind.

FWIW, I know that none of my own family members are ever going to play supporting roles in that second movie, and nor will I ever star in it. But my family & your family may be very different. If you think you can all improvise some kind of version of that second movie, I might be tempted to give it a go.
posted by rd45 at 8:01 AM on October 26 [12 favorites]

It's not quite the point, but maybe you just need to sit down and talk to them together for a few minutes and hash this out? Like her it's my birthday and it's really important we do something together. Can we make a plan right now?

Seconding this - talk to them. While leaving in a rush will probably feel good in the moment, odds are you'd regret it later.

Also - it's not mentioned in your question, but is there any chance Covid could be a factor? My birthday is today (a landmark one too), and I had to skip celebrating with family thanks to, you know, all this. It sucks, but it is what it is. You can always try again next year, when things are (hopefully) more normal.
posted by photo guy at 8:10 AM on October 26 [16 favorites]

I'm someone who has always built up birthdays as this *big thing* and then gotten disappointed if my family or friends fall short or don't have a good understanding of what would make the day special for me. This has led to lots of years of me feeling kind of crappy on my birthday. That sucks.

So, recently, I've tried to take charge on my birthday and just make the plan myself and invite people along or tell my family/friends exactly what I want and let them plan it. It makes the day a lot more fun for me if there's not this cloud of expectations vs. reality hanging over me.

I know you don't feel like you want to plan something, but I agree that it can be simple-- go to a restaurant that feels special to you, go to a place you like with your family, ask them to cook your favorite meal growing up and order you a cake-- whatever.

I think it's also helpful to remember that most people's birthdays are going to be a little underwhelming this year because of COVID, so it probably won't be the most incredible, amazing, memorable, instragram worthy birthday ever. That's okay, it can still be a nice day.
posted by geegollygosh at 8:14 AM on October 26 [22 favorites]

There are a few layers here to unpack.

The first is, that you clearly have a very specific view on how your parents should handle your birthday - make a reservation at the exact restaurant you wanted. Is that how you typically celebrate? Because if it is and they didn't follow through this particular year, I think that is an issue worth taking up with them, if only to check in on their mental health. I personally wouldn't sit in a restaurant right now (and where I am, you can't!) but I don't know where you are.

If it's NOT a tradition then...I have to say I think you have to let your parents throw you the celebration that they are capable of, which might be a last-minute cupcake or whatever.

Another layer here is...It kind of reminds me of that stage of life where no one really has space in their apartments and so all the friend birthday celebrations are out at a restaurants, and sometimes someone picks a suuuuper expensive evening and everyone who is making minimum wage is sitting there figuring out how much rice and beans they have at their place because after paying their cut of the bill they won't have grocery money.

Telling people how they are going to pay for you, as an adult, doesn't always go well. Now obviously, parents are different. My own parents were super clear about this - when I was 16, they let me know that while they loved me and there would be cake and a card, birthday parties are for kids. Once I had my own place, I became the architect of my own birthday and would invite them over, not the reverse. I realize this is probably a bit outside the norm, but it is a thing. My husband and I have big kid parties, but generally have pretty low key celebrations as adults for our own birthdays, although cake is not optional. (However, lots of cakes have been picked up from the grocery story at the last minute!)

So I wonder if your parents' perception is that you're a full adult now and your birthday is up to you. I think one way to look at this is to see what kinds of parties/dinners you have been throwing for them or they are throwing for each other and see if your expectations are in line with that.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:16 AM on October 26 [28 favorites]

There may be issues they aren't discussing, or other reasons they just can't even.. Find a restaurant that will do amazing takeout. Buy cake mix and frosting and ice cream, also candles, and chivvy one or both of them into making cake with you. Have a nice dinner.

Right now, make lists of funny movies, and start watching them with the folks. Play music. Persuade them to go on walks with you. Get them to tell family stories. This will cheer you up, and then, too.

Sucks to have an uncelebrated birthday, but as you get older it's not uncommon. Now is the time for you to be adult and take charge of your visit. You'll end up having a nicer time, less aggro, stronger relationships.
posted by theora55 at 8:19 AM on October 26 [7 favorites]

Would sitting all alone in an empty apartment (after presumably spending extra money on an earlier ticket home) actually make you happier than going out to dinner with your parents? Because I think it wouldn’t, but I think you are idealizing the idea that your suffering in that way is what they deserve and it will somehow teach them a lesson. It won’t.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:19 AM on October 26 [19 favorites]

They booked the restaurant you asked for. If you want something else, maybe you should tell them.
posted by heatherlogan at 8:20 AM on October 26

They booked the restaurant you asked for.

So this confused me too but I THINK the OP meant “the restaurant is booked UP” eg “there are no available tables at the restaurant on that date.” But it could be read either way so I’m not certain.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:22 AM on October 26 [7 favorites]

Agh, just saw the first part of your question about you requesting a specific restaurant, sorry for not reading more closely. That's a little harder. I agree that sitting down with them and figuring out a plan is a good way to go. Even if you have to do some of the legwork to make it happen right now. I think you'll feel better even if you do the work vs if you let your disappointment at your family consume the whole day.
posted by geegollygosh at 8:22 AM on October 26

The restaurant was full, which is what I meant by "booked." Not really a tradition, either. They definitely don't have a surprise planned, which would be nice!

I just chose a different restaurant and included them. For me, it's about the effort - not even expecting a big thing.

Thanks, all. I agree that I would regret it if I just flew back early.
posted by treetop89 at 8:30 AM on October 26 [12 favorites]

My expectations are also when I visit somewhere, there is effort made to host, kind of like I do for others when they visit.

Hmmm. Did they invite you, or did you invite yourself?
posted by warriorqueen at 8:33 AM on October 26 [7 favorites]

Happy birthday from an internet stranger!

I don't know if this is helpful or risks making it worse by stating the obvious, but we're in the middle of a global pandemic. And - even if you're not in the US, but especially if you are - there are no grownups at the top making anyone feel safer, laws are being passed to make things appreciably worse, and a good chunk of the world is literally on fire. So even if what's bothering you is an itchy seam on your shirt, it is amplified 1000% by all the ongoing awful we're all currently swimming in.

Having your family not do anything for you on your birthday when you went out of your way to be there with them to celebrate it is terrible. Having them not even have a bed made up for you when you got there is terrible. Having to plan your own damn birthday celebration or else not have one is terrible. Flying out to see people you love and feeling so miserable that you want to leave, is terrible. You're right to feel lousy about it and upset. And then magnify it 1000 times because right now in the world (and especially in the US, if you're here) everything is off-the-rails terrible.

We go home to our families because we want comfort. We want people to make an effort for us on our birthday because we want someone to reinforce that we matter. And I feel like right now comfort and feeling like any of us matters is in really short supply.

And I'm guessing your family is in that same place, but instead of carrying your burdens of travel fatigue and wanting a special birthday, they have the extra burden of suddenly needing to do more because you're there. Was this a surprise / spur-of-the-moment visit? For all you know, they could have been hoping that you would get there and make things easier for them. I'm not saying this to excuse them, because if I were you I would feel the same way. But just to reframe the situation.

I agree that you should figure out the birthday celebration - and the visit - you want, and help them to arrange it in a way that all of you can get something meaningful out of it. It sucks that you have to do this. But everything sucks right now. At least at the end of this, you'll get cake.
posted by Mchelly at 8:42 AM on October 26 [13 favorites]

I thought it would be a nice treat to see them for my birthday.
It can still be a nice treat; it will be a different kind of nice treat than you'd thought, but it will be nice, and maybe even nicer than the one you'd imagined.

But the entire trip has been a disappointment.
This trip is not yet entire; you can still salvage it.

No effort whatsoever to acknowledge my presence or plan anything (down from the bed not being made).
There you go: they can't deal. If they could deal at all, they'd've made the bed. They can't deal. Why not? Well, nobody can right now. I could send pictures that would provide abundant evidence of the truth of this, but I can't deal, so you'll have to take my word. Or words. Two words, to be exact. And those two words are fruit and flies. Anyway, you said it yourself:

I know they suffer from depression
You sound like you may be at a somewhat early stage of knowing that they suffer from depression, or maybe at an early stage of knowing what it is to suffer from depression. Not just the depressed person suffers from depression. Anyone relying on the depressed person suffers, too. Not as much and not in the same way, but it's genuine suffering.

I'm stressed about other things in my life
Oh! OMG, can relate! You know who else is stressed about other things in life? Every single human creature alive.

and I kind of regret coming and just want to go home.

Totally understandable. Birthdays are exhausting under normal circs; the exhaustion metastasizes under disastrous horror circs such as the ones currently in operation.

But I'm worried that I will regret not spending time with my parents or my birthday with them.
You absolutely will. You can deal; they can't deal. If you take your can-deal and go home with it when your parents are suffering from can't deal, you will feel terrible forevermore. Just as soon as you get perspective on this and realize what you've done, you'll start to feel awful. Do not make a bad birthday memory, whatever you do!

What should I do?
Plan something low-key and safe and mildly fun for you guys to do at home that will help you all have a good visit.

I could plan something for myself, but I am honestly tired and don't want to do a lot of work on planning.
I think your parents are in the same sad boat with you on that, and I think they probably feel pretty bad about it. Can you take the pressure off all of you with a perspective change? Do they have board games? Zip to the store and get stuff to make cupcakes. Order pizza and play Sorry! Have a very happy birthday.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:44 AM on October 26 [9 favorites]

If something is important to you, you'll need to speak up. But be aware that you're asking them to do emotional labor for you, their adult child. I don't know anything about your family dynamics, but maybe your parents don't care too much about birthdays. Maybe they don't want to go out to eat during COVID. Maybe they didn't understand how important it was to you. Maybe they don't have the money to pay for that dinner. Maybe that restaurant is too loud, and they don't like eating there.

At any rate, the older we get, the more we need to plan our own birthday celebrations. It's not on anyone else to presume to know how we want to spend that day.

I rarely see my parents, and I thought it would be a nice treat to see them for my birthday. Try to enjoy the trip for what it is, not what your expectations were for it. Personally, when I travel back to see my parents or in-laws, I try to keep my expectations low, so my trips usually turn out better than expected. Although it's a 'vacation' and a special trip for you; to them, it's just another day. Yes, their child is in town, and that's nice, but they're still living their daily lives.

I do hope you find some light and have a nice birthday.
posted by hydra77 at 8:47 AM on October 26 [4 favorites]

For what it's worth, my children stopped wanting to do their birthdays with me in their late teens. It made me sad but also proud. They're in their mid-20s now and although they humor me by coming for dinner and cake if I make a mom-fuss, it's appropriate that they celebrate most things like that with their friends now.

I see it as a process - the next step is them making sure I have cake and love on my birthday.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be parented/loved, especially on your birthday! As much as I love my boys though, I would rather they visit me because they want to see me, not because they want me to do something for them.
posted by headnsouth at 8:51 AM on October 26 [8 favorites]

I'm going to buck the trend on this answer, provisionally ... if you leave now and go back home, will you have something fun to do that will make it a good day for you? If the answer is yes, then go. Make your birthday special for YOU and if that means getting out of what has become a disappointing situation, then do it.

That said, don't leave early if you're just going to be sitting around alone feeling sad. Might as well do that with other people around you. ;)
posted by mccxxiii at 8:51 AM on October 26 [3 favorites]

I think this question is impossible to answer without knowing who invited who and how the decision was made to fly out at this particular time.
posted by corb at 8:57 AM on October 26 [8 favorites]

You're an adult, you organize your own birthday celebrations, if you want a big fuss made you pay for it. I'm assuming you just invited yourself to their place & are expecting them to throw an event, now if they invited you & aren't even doing cake at home that is a little weird. Also remember before you get too upset, this is a weird year, almost no one is going out for their birthdays because of a pandemic. The no birthday birthday is kind of the theme of the year.
posted by wwax at 9:02 AM on October 26 [11 favorites]

As someone who had a birthday a few days ago - I feel for you. I totally get the desire to come back home, to feel special and celebrated, and the disappointment of not getting to feel special on your special day.

Can you just spend some time with your folks and then do another birthday back home where you indulge yourself in some way? Your family is clearly incapable of meeting your psychological need right now. I would not leave in a huff but I would totally make it a shorter visit if they do not seem enthused about your presence (unless you think they need your help, in which case I'd stay and help).

Birthdays are weird for me - there is always some grieving involved as well.

Happy birthday and hugs from a stranger living across the ocean.
posted by M. at 9:07 AM on October 26 [1 favorite]

In my family, someone who flew out to spend their birthday with the rest of the family would certainly be very welcome, and everyone would be excited that they were home but it wouldn't necessarily trigger any other big deal. We usually don't plan a bunch of stuff when we're together, we just hang out and be together -- cooking, playing cards, sewing, watching Jeopardy, etc. We might go out to dinner on the day, or we might stay home and eat that person's favourite thing to eat at home, whichever seemed workable. So when I read your post and hear that they haven't planned for your visit, I mostly think "planned what?"

In the reverse, too -- my brother flew up to my parents' home once for a big birthday of my Dad and then just was, you know, there, for a couple of days. Him being there was the happy fun thing. They didn't also go out fishing or have a fancy dinner.

That doesn't mean that's the only way things can be or should be, but to illustrate that what you're describing is totally normal for some people, and not necessarily indicative of lack of caring. If your family normally goes all out for family visits or throws big birthday deals for grown-ups, then maybe there's something wrong this year -- their depression or the pandemic or them just not being very thoughtful or I don't know.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:10 AM on October 26 [5 favorites]

If your parents are depressed during this depressing, terrifying, horrible time, I'd sort of write off a lot of my expectations this year.

What I'd do is order (or ask them to order if they usually do meals when you visit) something for dinner that you'll really, truly like, also procure a desert that you'll really truly like. Then watch a movie together, or some TV, etc.

In my experience as an anxious person, I sometimes make the mistake of getting so wound up and unhappy about a thing that I cheat myself out of a good-enough outcome. Right now you feel let down and disappointed, but when you actually have a nice dinner in front of you and something fun to watch/do together, you'll enjoy that and it will overwrite the disappointment you're feeling now.

For me it's usually a good bet to try to power through the gloominess of the moment toward an actual material thing I'll enjoy, because I almost always underestimate how much I'll actually enjoy the material thing.

This sounds like a bummer, but if you're at all like me, you'll feel much better with delivery dinner and cake than doing nothing or going home.
posted by Frowner at 9:18 AM on October 26 [11 favorites]

[A few comments deleted. Let's focus on helping OP figure out what to do about their situation and please remember to be kind.]
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 9:40 AM on October 26 [9 favorites]

After several years of birthday angst and suffering, I'm just very direct now. Here's what I'd like to do, here's something you could get me if you need a gift idea. I get too disappointed when my expectations aren't met. This saves me a lot of pain in the long run as well as stress for the people that want me to have an enjoyable birthday but have difficulty planning ahead.
posted by crunchy potato at 9:58 AM on October 26 [4 favorites]

Your parents are depressed. They didn't get your bed ready. That says it all.

You went home to be taken care of, but they're not able to take care of themselves adequately (depression), so it's going to be a disappointment.

I wouldn't "huff" by going home, but if there's time enough to go home and plan a much much better birthday with others, AND if this could be done without making your parents feel worse, maybe you should consider it. But I have a feeling that all those requirements can't be met at this late time (if there's ANY chance your parents will feel hurt if you tell them the dinner reservation is now cancelled and you're leaving, forget it. Don't do that to them.)

Therefore, as others have suggested, I'd write off this birthday as the Pandemic Birthday and follow through on the plans you've made to eat dinner with your parents - and then watch a movie or something. And maybe get used to the fact that your parents aren't able to take care of you emotionally anymore (did they ever, really?)

It's a huge life change, but, there it is. Next time visit your parents when it's not your birthday.
posted by DMelanogaster at 10:16 AM on October 26 [5 favorites]

Oh dear. Happy Birthday. This sucks and I am here to send you love. I too have always wanted big birthdays and while my parents have always done something sweet and special for me, my friends... Not even close to what they do for their other friends. My birthday is therefore when I have a terrible depressive episode. I am not looking forward to it this year.

However! In college, I used to take myself to Disneyland for the day. I ate whatever I wanted, I people watched for as long as I wanted, and I spent my time just being. It was remarkably healing (albeit a LITTLE lonely.) Is there anywhere in your area that might let you do something similar?

But I agree with other commenters, it may still be worth it to tell your parents, "I was hoping we could spend my birthday together doing something special. I was also hoping not to plan it myself. What could we do?"

I am keeping my fingers crossed for you. It is ok to be disappointed. It is okay to be sad about this. Don't feel like you have to minimize your feelings.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 10:32 AM on October 26 [3 favorites]

I would personally not fly back early because to me, that would just leave me stewing in irritation during the trip and without time to figure out plans at home.

Have you called the restaurant you wanted to go to? It's possible that a reservation has opened up (or that your parents never actually tried to make reservations). See if that's back on the table.

If not, assuming the weather is going to be decent, how do you feel about a picnic? They can be done affordably if that's a factor, don't require a ton of thought assuming access to a grocery store with a deli section or the like, and is outdoors if part of your parents' issue was worrying about being indoors.

Is there a museum that you really enjoy that you could throw together an outing to? An outdoor sculpture garden that you could stroll through with local friends? Do you have the day off from work? Is there a scenic drive you could go on?

Covid is complicating everyone's birthdays and similar events, especially with travel. Without knowing what country/countries are involved, wanting to go out to a restaurant may be breaking best practices and they're not comfortable with it for that reason. That too complicates the "should I go home early" question. In normal times, I'd say it's worth consider throwing in the towel and making plans with friends at home. But even if the countries involved had covid relatively well contained, if I knew a friend had flown twice within recent history and stayed in someone else's house during the travel, I'd decline to spend time with them until there was testing and/or quarantine.
posted by Candleman at 10:33 AM on October 26 [3 favorites]

Sorry that your birthday this year has been frustrating. I hear you and it sucks to feel feel like your parents aren't paying attention. But it doesn't mean that they aren't paying attention or don't love you (if that's where your mind goes). There are millions of reasons why people behave the way they do, and there may not be a reason at all. The suggestions to create your own birthday experience this year are good! People here want you to be happy, and encouraging you to take this on as an opportunity to steer the big day for yourself the way you want is the best way to do that because you can then feel good about not relying on your parents to do a specific thing to make you happy. You don't have to plan your own day, you get to plan your own day. When I live in a European country (having been raised in the US), I was thrilled to see that on someone's birthday, the birthday person threw the party for others to come and enjoy. They usually brought in a cake and drinks, and others could bring food if they wanted. It was on the birthday person's dime and time to treat everyone else. Much fun ensued. When I moved back to the US, where my family lives, I turned a big-0 and threw a party at my place and invited my family and friends. My closest friend and I prepared food much of the day. We had so much fun doing that. The party was great because I had what I wanted, the way I wanted it, and it felt so good to make others happy because I was born!
posted by waving at 12:12 PM on October 26 [2 favorites]

I want to add that on that birthday that I threw a party for myself, I invited my whole family and their spouses, many of whom I am not close to and one I cannot stand. So, it's not like I had a bunch of close friends over and we were all huggy or anything. I decided that on my birthday I deserve to give myself a break from grievances, as a gift to myself. And since I wanted all of my family there and I wanted them to have a good time , it happened, and that the jerky person was perfectly fine and even drank a glass of sparkling wine when I told everyone it was time to toast me LOL. Furthermore, since I was single and had no kids and didn't like kids all that much at the time, I said no kids and got away with it, just that once.
posted by waving at 1:00 PM on October 26 [2 favorites]

I just want to wish you a happy birthday. This pandemic sucks and everything is hard. I really empathize with you, and I'm sorry that your parents weren't able to make plans for you at a special restaurant, or do anything, really. No matter what the surrounding circumstances, it is OK to feel disappointed and sad about how things have gone so far. Are there other things that might still help make this special? Could you say to your parents, "I was hoping to do something special on my birthday. Can we make a meal together/go for a walk/look at old photographs/{another thing that makes you feel loved and special}? It would mean a lot to me. I've been having a hard time because of the pandemic and I'm hoping that this day can be a little special for all of us."

Best of luck, and happy birthday. Take care.
posted by k8lin at 6:08 PM on October 26 [1 favorite]

To help get you through your understandable disappointment, start planning now what you’ll do to salvage things when you get back. Give yourself a birthday part II that doesn’t depend on your parents rising to the occasion. Something you do by yourself, or with friends, or an indulgent purchase, whatever is meaningful to you.

Happy birthday! Sorry part I didn’t go as you’d hoped but part II is gonna be great.
posted by kapers at 6:18 PM on October 26

I rarely see my parents, and I thought it would be a nice treat to see them for my birthday. But the entire trip has been a disappointment. No effort whatsoever to acknowledge my presence or plan anything (down from the bed not being made).

Well, you are seeing them! You got yourself the treat you wanted for your birthday, go you!

I don't know if you have a tradition around birthdays that you are expecting them to follow? But consider that not only is this year a very different one for everyone, but that as we grow up we are expected to do more and more of our own birthday planning. For your first birthday, your parents probably didn't even ask you what you wanted at all.

I've often been visiting my parents for my own birthday, more due to general scheduling than an actual desire to be there for my birthday, but typically I would choose my own restaurant and call to make any reservation needed at a time of my choice. I don't expect anyone else to plan anything, and actually would be kind of unhappy if I was expected to follow someone else's plan for *my* birthday. It's your birthday, pick a place that YOU like, if your parents pick they are going to just go with someplace you would have thought was great when you were 6 years old or something.

the bed not being made

I get that you expect this, I do. But I have never once visited my parents and come in to the bed being made unless I myself made it last time I was visiting (I like to drop an old sheet over it after, to keep the dust off). Usually they will have thrown some random items on the bed that I need to clean off before I can go to sleep. Once they had decided to store the bed away. I have learned to make my first stop after a long trip be in the bedroom so I'm not surprised by having to spend an hour cleaning before I can go to sleep. Honestly just having the only issue be having to put some already clean sheets on the bed sounds great!! So try to be a little more thankful for what they are doing -- they have a room for you to stay in, there is a bed, they are alive for you to spend time with. Don't ruin this time by feeling so put out.

Also, go (in a safe, maybe online kind of way) buy yourself something nice for your birthday. Your gift to you. A physical thing that you can look at and say to yourself "what a wonderful birthday present". Personally I like to order something to arrive around when I get back to my own home.
posted by yohko at 10:44 PM on October 26

I've always had a fantasy where people do exactly what I want for my birthday - the right food, the perfect present - it has never happened. Now I take charge of my own birthday and do whatever I want to make it a great day usually involving a meal out and a trip to a book store of yarn store.

What could you do to facilitate a positive birthday for yourself while you are at your parents?
- Does your favorite restaurant do take out (since they are all booked up)? Call in the order, pick it up, share with parents.

-Is there something your mom made when you were young that was your favorite meal? Ask her to make it on your birthday with a flattering request: "Mom, do you think you could make (fried chicken, pancakes, those yummy biscuits...whatever) on my birthday? I'll go to the store and buy the ingredients!"

-Do you have a favorite movie that you could rent/stream on your birthday to watch with parents?

It isn't going to be the birthday you imagined but it can still be a great day if YOU put out some effort instead of putting the burden of your birthday happiness on your depressed parents. I hope you have a great birthday!!
posted by mulcahy at 2:14 PM on October 27

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