Most people think about margaritas and Mexico when they think about Cinco de Mayo. For me, I think about my birthday, because that’s what it is. It’s a day that came, but almost never did. I wasn’t born to parents who were planning a family and wanted a child. Should that matter? It really shouldn’t. I’m here, and I’m happy to be alive. But the truth of the matter is still there, and at times it makes me sad to know that I was simply born and relinquished.
I’ve often thought about the circumstances of my birth, and really the circumstances of birth in general. The randomness about it intrigues me. Some are born to parents who are so excited to plan for and have a child. Others are born to two individuals who barely know each other. Children are born in poverty, in wealth, to single mothers, to parents of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, in third world countries, and in world superpowers.
Thinking about Cinco de Mayo makes me think about humanity sometimes. It makes me remember that I could have been born in any of these circumstances. It makes me reflect on where I am in my life now, and where I came from. I think if we all thought about what our personal circumstances are and what they could have been, we all might be a little more kind and compassionate toward each other. Nobody chooses the cards they are dealt, they are just dealt. How we play the hand is what ultimately determines the quality of life we end up having.
As an adoptee, I have mixed feelings about my birthday, for sure. I cannot change the hand in life that I was dealt. I can only take that hand as a starting point and use what I have learned along the way to try to create a good life for myself. For me, it’s not really a day of celebration. It’s bittersweet. Sure, I’ll partake in a margarita or two with the rest of the country, but not because it’s my birthday. There are other milestones in my life that I’d rather celebrate – ones that I’ve had a hand in achieving.
This Cinco de Mayo I’m turning 43. Where the time went, I really don’t know. I now have two beautiful children, a 10-year old boy and a 7-year old girl. They are the first blood relatives that I’ve ever really known, and their birthdays are both milestones that I choose to celebrate much more than my own. It makes me proud to watch them grow and look up to me. I am so happy to be their dad, and I can’t imagine life without them.
It’s kind of cool to have a birthday on a day when the bars are jammed and everyone’s out and about. I can blend into the scene at the local watering hole and give myself a silent toast. I’m here. I was dealt a hand and I didn’t fold. I’m still in the game, and as long as I am I can work to make my hand stronger and try to make sure my kids are dealt a better one.