Last year the scope of my job grew exponentially and by the time January rolled around, I was becoming increasingly swamped by boatloads of work. Around March, the person who knew and did everything retired, and then all of the sudden it was like musical chairs with people moving into new jobs, leaving old ones. When the music stopped, I was down one person on my direct team and down four people who work closely with us. All year we've been scrambling just to keep up with the crush and scrambling to get new people into these key positions.
That is why I forgot my husband's birthday. My brain was full. I honestly felt I had reached max capacity. Something had to drop off to make room for new stuff, and my husband lost the toss.
The good news is that he mentioned it to me earlier in the week, as in, Do you think you could make that really good chocolate cake for my birthday? I'm all casual, sure, honey, and I'm screaming inside.
I shopped online one morning but didn't buy anything and never made it to the mall even for a card. He looked sad on birthday morning, because he's still a kid who expects brightly wrapped loot on special occasions. His sister sent a cute card with a cat on the cover. You pull the tongue, and the cat sings Happy Birthday in this meowy voice you would give a cat if you could.
He walked around all day pulling the little tongue. Like, look, see what simple pleasures even a card can bring? He's 62.
I made the cake. We had a nice dinner. He said it was OK. But it wasn't.
It's not that I put work above all else. I'm a balanced person. Not a workaholic, but I am wired to do whatever it takes. In fact, I never understood why these Type A workaholics suddenly clear their calendar and stop everything for a child's birthday or an anniversary. I've never felt like one day makes up for all the other slights. Just be that person all the time.
Now I've gone through this, I see that it is hard to be that person all the time, and one day can cover a multitude of sins. Families are often the first to be sacrificed when you have a demanding job and the going gets tough, so you learn to celebrate the big ones in fashion. I get it now.
We're starting to fill out the team again. For the first time this week, I came up for air. I slept better and feel clear-headed. The boss always says we can do so much more than we think we can do, and he was right. But at a price. I'm glad I paid the price, because I learned a lot about my work and a lot about me.
I learned I don't want to be the person who forgets birthdays.