Our birthdays are the one day in the year that we are allowed to be completely self-centered. I think about what I want to do, what I want to eat, with whom I want to celebrate. I wait for phone calls, emails, text messages wishing me a happy birthday. It's all about ME!
This individual focus is no doubt enhanced by having never given birth. I'm sure that I would have greater understanding that birth is not an individual experience if I had . Someone else carried me and nurtured me for a long time. Someone else went through childbirth to delivery me into this world. Someone else nursed me with breast milk to keep me alive.
My friend tells me that Mi Yuk Guk, seaweed soup, is eaten on birthdays in Korea. When women give birth they are fed this soup, as it is seen as the healthiest post-partum food, with iodine and iron restoring blood that the mother lost during childbirth, and helping producing milk. The mother's first meal is a symbol of the baby's start in life. Eating seaweed soup on birthdays thus becomes a reminder of the day your mother gave you life.
If we chose to do so, perhaps anyone could find a way of remembering and honoring their mother. Even if your mother let you down after giving birth, I know that many people find a way of forgiving and feeling gratitude for the basic gift of life received from one's mother. Is there a ritual way that you could give thanks to that special someone without whom you wouldn't be here?