Happy Unbirthday to my Birthday Girl

Last month my oldest daughter turned 11. It was the first time she had a low-key birthday, spent ‘just hanging out’ with only a few friends. As per her request, there was no official party nor a cake with candles. Actually, it was a day much like any other, and for the first time I had no special duties except some driving around for the birthday girl and said friends. So, again, a day like all others. 

To her, it was a wonderful day and would tell anyone it was the best. Myself? I paced a lot, unnerved by the feeling that something was terribly off. 

I spent the majority of her birthday in a fog, thinking back to parties past and all the balloons and laughter that was synonomous this very special day. Hours upon hours of shopping, cooking, baking, decorating, and preparing; tons of work for a couple fun hours which were over in a flash. Then with bellies and hearts full, we’d flail onto the couch with a feeling of happiness.

birthday party isabelle

It’s a crazy event, but an anticipated tradition nonetheless.

This year, there was none of that.

My Isabelle is my oldest, the one that made me a mother. In her is all the firsts of parenting, someone I’ve literally watched grow before my eyes for, well, 11 years.

isabelle birthday party

Instead of 100’s of lively and colourful photos like birthdays past, there are 2 of her 11th birthday. One of Isabelle and her friends together, with 8 eyeballs shooting me the ‘is this over yet?‘ look. Another is them sitting together for burgers and milkshakes, which is a comical photo, complete with a few closed eyes and mouths munching. As much as I love these two photos, they make me feel a little sad, as they are proof of the remarkable difference when compared to past years.

Actually, looking back, there’s barely evidence of a birthday at all. Thus, I’m sure in my old age I won’t even remember that these photos are from her birthday. Likewise, when she is old herself, she’ll look through my photos and think we skipped her 11th birthday altogether. 

The point is, the anniversary of her birth is deserving of a grand celebration. How can I not be unsettled by the fact that the traditional big bash feels past-tense now? I refuse to settle for this being something that used to be worthy of a grand hoopla.

Heck no. 

So, are kids birthday celebrations for them, or us? … It’s ok to admit that we need them too. 

Fast forward to another day, much like many others. It was chaos with: appointments, meetings, school pick-up, a quick clothing change, dance, cheer, cook, eat, homework, and then bed. After I tucked in the twins, my oldest came upstairs to grab a glass of water.

I took a look at her 11 year-old self and couldn’t resist, “I miss you”, I said to her. 

Indeed, I missed her so much despite her being right in front of me. I missed the baby, toddler, and school-age her; my sidekick whom was without fail, always with me. Now, it’s middle school and sports, friends and a social life more active than my own. Somedays I feel like I don’t see my sidekick at all. It’s the truth, I miss her. 

I Miss you too, Mom”, and she hugged me tight. 

Since some past rules seem to be breaking, I decided to add another into the mix, “Wanna have a treat with me before bed?” 

Sure!“, her eyes lit up like that toddler I remember from a Christmas long ago. 

I brought a Deep ’n Delicious® Chocolate Cake, plates and forks to the table; then sat down across from her.

As I cut two sections for her and myself, I sang ‘Happy Birthday‘ in my head. I closed my eyes and pictured her younger self with an oversized party hat, a massive silly grin, blowing out candles with all her might, with applause all around. 

happy unbirthday to the birthday girl isabelle

We both took our first creamy bite of Deep ’n Delicious® cake.

“So … 11 huh?” I said. 


I thought about that for a moment before saying, “Love you sweetie

Love you too Mom“, she replied, and in a way that told me she truly meant it.

I finally got to share that much-needed slice of cake with my birthday girl, on her unbirthday. It was only then that I found some peace from nagging restlessness.

It was a perfect quiet moment shared with just my newly turned 11 year old daughter. A moment that was desperately needed, and highly deserved. I have a feeling she needed this undeclared celebration just as much as I did. 

mccain deep and delicious chocolate cake


Disclosure: This post was brought to you by McCain Foods Canada. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author
and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of McCain Foods Canada.




  1. I think birthday parties are for the kids and for the parents. The kids love the party, and the parents love to see their kids together.

  2. OHH man that breaks my heart! My kiddo is still in the birthday party stage and hope he doesn’t outgrow it for years! You daughter is beautiful and just know you made her truly independent and that is one of the best gifts a mom can give to their child.

  3. That is such a sweet story. I love seeing the young adults my kids are becoming, but I do miss the days when they looked to me for everything.

  4. I don’t want my kids to grow up! If they could just stay small forever, and I can do fun and great things for them, I’d be happy. But, I know that’s not possible and one day I will experience a child’s birthday just as you have. At least your daughter did what she wanted and still had a great time. I know not having to plan and shop around as much must have been easier.

  5. My oldest turned 11 this year and we had his last party. Next year will be a sleepover with friends.

  6. I truly miss our “little” Isabelle as well; however, am so proud of the young lady she is becoming. Love her to pieces!

  7. awwwww you made me cry! I used to whisper “I miss you” to the boys during the summer right before they started school. It wasn’t that I was going to miss them while they were at school, it was that I knew they were entering a new phase of life, one without me, and I was truly going to miss the little person that they were at the time. I completely understand. With a 9 year old in the house, I have a feeling that I’ll be in your shoes again soon.

  8. The first and last birthday party I had was for my oldest at age 5. That was it for us, never again! He’s 12 now. We now just do our family (there is 8 of us!) we have a nice dinner, cake and celebrate just us. I miss all my kiddos being so small, they grow so so so fast!

    1. That is wonderful, and we always have friends and family join us. But, this year? nada. It was like a Christmas spent alone, really, these are the time we need our people with us you know?

  9. Thank you for sharing your experience. As a mother sometimes I want to turn back time and make them a little girl again. But daughters do grow up and we just have to grin and bear it.

    1. So true Stacie. So much of raising kids is learning to accept what it is and make the best. Sometimes that is so hard.

  10. Okay, this made me a bit teary. That is an awesome memory you just built with her that I am sure she will never forget… it will be just right up there with all those parties 🙂 and that cake? Yummy!

  11. This is so sweet. I think some children really like to celebrate on their own terms and I guess that doesn’t always mean balloons and festivities. It’s hard not to miss those days though.

  12. Your girls are so adorable! The birthday girl looks identical to you! Its sad when they get to that age, and on their way to becoming ladies. You miss the sweet, fun things. But cake makes everything better lol

  13. My kids have never wanted big parties or anything like that either. THey just wanted a few friends to come and stay the night and hang out which is what we did. Sometimes it is the little things like that, that make those older birthdays special 🙂

  14. I absolutely love this post. So incredibly sweet. I am glad you were able to sit down with a piece of cake together!

    1. Every celebration counts! I need to remember this from now on. I didn’t realize until now that those are limited. Too limited.

  15. I’ve heard it can be quite the adjustment when the kids are no longer interested in the big parties. You seem like you handled it quite well, though.

  16. I have to say, I don’t think I have ever gotten the ” do we have to take this picture” look from my kids on their birthdays.

  17. I think the first few birthday parties are for the parents, but become about the kids once they understand what is going on. My oldest just turned d 7 a few months ago! It is hard to think of how fast time has gone by.

  18. They grow up so fast 🙁 Glad you still got to share a special moment with her for her birthday even if it wasn’t on the day.

  19. I never thought I would be sad watching my kids grow, but I am… your post made me cry and want to hug my kids 🙂

  20. Bittersweet indeed to witness the passage of time. Yet, we would not want them to be frozen in time, as much as for their sake as ours. Happy Birthday to your lovely daughter.

  21. This was such a touching story, and brought back some memories of my own girls and how every year was different. At least you still managed to get a couple photos to look back on!

  22. Happy Belated birthday to your daughter. She is beautiful. Kids grow up way too quick. I miss the days of my kids birthdays, but remember them all. Seems just like yesterday. Enjoy many more birthdays with her, soon she will be celebrating her own kids birthdays. 🙂

  23. Such a sweet post. I’m surprised she chose an unbirthday so young. Sounds like she’s very mature and selfless. Beautiful little girl you have. Totally your mini-me.

    1. Oh my gosh – she’s 11 going on 17. She’s so mature, but smart, kind and outgoing – she amazes me. Also, time does pass so very quickly.

  24. Awe what a touching post , I have a toddler and to be honest it’s going way to fast for my liking

  25. ok, you’re having me feel emotional here lol. I’m actually going through the same thing with my daughter who just turned 11 and the difference that even just a year has made has been incredible.

  26. What a touching post. And it reminds me of how hard it is to let go. My kids are adults now, but they will always be my babies.

  27. I love Deep N Delicious cake. It’s my birthday tomorrow and I would be quite happy with one of these for my birthday cake!

  28. Happy unbirthday to your girl! I remember when I had my first low key birthday, I actually think it was one of my best, no anxiety of being the center of attention for everyone in the family, and my friends. I was able to just spend some time with those I really wanted to. 🙂 I bet she loved her low key birthday and had a blast

  29. I can relate to your post. The first time they go out with their friends and don’t celebrate at home is the hardest. My girls are adults and we tend to celebrate their birthdays every year at our home or theirs. Just wait.

  30. Its so heart-breaking to see them turn into young women so quickly.She is just beautiful

  31. Reading this really tugged on my heart strings. It’s hard when relationships change…

  32. its bitter sweet, i still cant believe im a grandmother! i love it but it feels like my oldest was just a little girl.

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