Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Aging and the Complexity of Birthdays

Every birthday should be considered a big one. - Findingninee.comEach and every August, I turn a year older. While my approaching birthday is not considered to be a Big Birthday, aren’t they all Big Birthdays?

After all, why should a milestone that ends in a five or a zero be any more complex and important than one ending in a three, or a seven, or even a one?

But they are, aren’t they? I mean, we make them so.

On my 30th birthday, I hid at home. From the perspective of 16, 30 seems guaranteed to have had enough seasons to have fallen in love, become world-renowned in a career, and to have figured out who I was.

And in some ways, that was true. I was married, had love, and a crappy career that would grow to a better one, and had, at least, mostly figured out who I wasn’t.

Still though, I hid from that 30th birthday. Looking back on it now, I think “Oh you silly stupid girl! You were so young! So much was ahead of you!” Which is true. But I also see then-me and now-me hugs her because as the older I get, the more I suspect that we never truly feel like a grown-up. We’re still figuring this stuff out every single day. I wish I’d taken a photo on my 30th birthday. I think I’d liked to have seen it this week.

Aging and the Complexity of Birthdays


When my son turned six this summer, I must have taken 200 photos. While the majority are poorly framed and capture the running-jumping-blurry backs of heads, I’m glad that I have a few of his first for-real birthday party. I think he’ll enjoy seeing them one day.


On my seventh birthday, I invited seven friends. Six girls, and one boy. His name was Ricky and I loved him with a ferocity and acceptance that we eventually lose through the living and the being. We lose it sometime between seven and something, once we realize that people can hurt us on purpose and also by mistake.

Ricky and I used to hide under his bed, and behind the bushes between our houses. Hidden and safe, we’d pick Juniper berries, and smash them with our fingers. We shared everything. On the day that we showed one another our butts, each quickly kissing a cheek of the other’s, he told me that his black eye was really from his father hitting him and not from a rake falling on his face when he opened the door to the shed.

For my birthday present, he brought me a box of six soaps. They were white, and shaped like hearts. They had flower patterns on them, and I thought they were the fanciest, most grown-up present I’d ever receive. Today, they’re in a box underneath my bathroom sink. I don’t think I’ve looked at them since unpacking into this house, but knowing they are there brings me peace and hope of seeing the world through the eyes of a seven-year-old again. Their presence reminds me that the best gifts are sometimes $3.99 and from Walgreens.

Ricky moved away a few weeks after his behind-the-bush confession. I never spoke to him again. I had my mom call Information – the 70’s version of Google – but we never did find him. I hope his dad stopped hurting him. I hope he wasn’t telling me the truth about his black eye, although I think that he probably was.
I wish I had a photo of him being at my birthday party. I’d enjoy seeing those photos today. 

Seventh birthday memories


As my birthday approaches, I feel old. I see wrinkles and sun spots on my face that weren’t there just seven years ago and I study photos of myself from then, forgetting that seven years is seven years and that my own son has only yet celebrated six.

That six is a lifetime from two. That it’s okay that each year I inch and fly closer to my death than I do to my birth.

I remind now-me that the me who is (hopefully) here in seven years will look back, and think “Oh you silly stupid girl! You were so young! So much was ahead of you!” Which is true. There is. There is so much ahead of me. And you bet your ass that I’ll be taking photos at this upcoming birthday of mine. I’ll be in them, and will keep them even if they’re mostly running-jumping-blurry backs of heads. I think I’ll enjoy seeing them one day.


kristi rieger campbell finished post for finding ninee

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “When I think of birthdays…”
Host: Me, of Finding Ninee
and this week’s beautiful co-hosts are Stacey of This Momma’s Ramblings and Mimi of Mimi Time!


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  • Dana - Yes to all of this. To feeling old, to it being okay, and to having so much ahead of us. I have to keep reminding myself of that, especially in August when I find myself looking back instead of forward.August 13, 2015 – 10:05 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - First! Also yeah, to feeling old, to it being almost mostly totally okay.. Me too, me too.August 13, 2015 – 10:21 pmReplyCancel

  • JT Walters - When I think of birthdays…I try to forget. Each birthday has been hall marked by tragedy in my life and seem unimportant when I consider my son.

    My sixth birthday I forgot and went home with a boy who was not invited to the party…my Mom was pissed.

    Another birthday a pet died.

    Another my Mom was diagnosed with Cancer and died two years later.

    A very serious car accident (other driver’s fault) on another.

    My friends drag me out on my birthday but it is like playing Russian Roulette.

    Birthdays are tragedies for me. And yes, I too realize we only accept not having all the answers with a bit more grace as we grow older but are basically making it up as we go.

    Birthdays for me should come with survival gear but I count my friends and family as blessings which ups the best part about my birthdays.

    I wish you the best happiest birthday ever. What sun spots and wrinkles??? You are too young to complain about your birthdays in your thirties!!August 13, 2015 – 10:14 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Dude, your birthdays sound TERRIBLE. 🙁 And hahah – I wish I were whining in my 30’s!August 14, 2015 – 8:05 pmReplyCancel

  • Stacey DeHaven Gannett - Fabulous post, Kristi! I definitely wonder how I will feel, when fifty comes, but there are still a few more years to go for that. I will certainly remember forty as it is immortalized on my blog. LOL! Have a great week and thanks so much for letting me co-host! 🙂August 14, 2015 – 1:54 amReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - Beautiful. And also makes me wonder when I’ll get over my own jitters around my birthday. I’m aiming for 41. Also, life is terminal. To paraphrase (or sub-phrase (or just misquote)) Denise – Life is terminal: live every day as though tomorrow might not happen.

    <3 youAugust 14, 2015 – 5:32 amReplyCancel

  • Allie - Birthdays are so bittersweet, aren’t they? I’m so grateful to be able to celebrate another one – and I love all the special treatment – but they also make me sad. Aging really gets me down, and I’m sad that I don’t get daughter and sister birthday cards anymore. But, I do get Mommy cards:). I’m going to try and link up this morning. Last night was Hunter’s first high school cross country meet and I was wiped out!August 14, 2015 – 7:34 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Allie! They so so are. One one hand, I’m like “no way am I that old!!” On the other, well, it is what it is and I think about all of the joy I have now that I didn’t as much in my younger, prettier days… but yeah, it’s hard. Sigh to not getting daughter and sister cards any longer. Mommy ones though. They help I hope. xoxoAugust 14, 2015 – 8:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - You’ve completely captured my mixed feelings about birthdays. As a summer birthday girl, I was used to having small or non-existent parties because either I was away or my friends were. I still go back and forth between whether i want to hide (like you did for your 30th) or shout from the rooftops (ok, not really) that it’s my birthday.As you know, I spent this past “big” birthday (but you’re right, they are all big!) celebrating in different ways — and I’m still continuing with my mini-celebrations…August 14, 2015 – 8:29 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I love your mini-celebrations, Emily! And you’re going to Mexico!! I’m so jealous about that. You’re going to have an amazing time AND you look fantastic. So there’s that.August 14, 2015 – 8:10 pmReplyCancel

  • MICHELLE LIEW - Thanks for your frank sharing, Kristi. Each birthday is a milestone,,and is scary indeed.August 14, 2015 – 9:09 amReplyCancel

  • Julie Smeltzer - There are always mixed feelings about birthdays but we have to remember we are not celebrating getting older as we are celebrating a year lived well 🙂August 14, 2015 – 11:32 amReplyCancel

  • Julie Clarke - I am ‘pushing’ 40 but in 18 months will be ‘towing’ it lol 🙂 Great post as always xAugust 14, 2015 – 12:32 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily Nichols Grossi - I love, love, love that you still have the white soaps. And “sometimes the best gifts are $3.99 and from Walgreens.” is so right and true and wonderful! xoAugust 14, 2015 – 1:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Christine Carter - This is so beautiful, my friend. I read your words and nod knowingly at it all… this aging process is both profound and terrifying all at once. My heart breaks into a million pieces thinking about Ricky. Oh, how I hope he managed to survive such living conditions. I’m betting he will remember you and all those behind the bushes moments- and that soap. Oh, that precious soap!!August 14, 2015 – 3:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Marcia @ Menopausal Mother - Oh yes—-there is much MUCH more good stuff coming in the following years–I promise! Hey, did you try to find Ricky through Facebook? I have found a TON of my old elementary school friend there that I have not seen since I was little!August 14, 2015 – 10:57 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I tried to find RIcky years ago but honestly haven’t seen him since I was six or seven years old so I’m not sure how easy he’d be to identify! That’s cool you’ve found so many of your elementary school friends there. Seriously cool.August 16, 2015 – 5:00 pmReplyCancel

  • Ripped Jeans & Bifocals - Oh, I just love you. I also boo-hooed over my 30th and so silly…such a waste. What I would give to be 30 again. I loved this post. And I love you. I’m gushing, right?August 15, 2015 – 2:02 amReplyCancel

  • Pat B - For some reason I wasn’t able to comment above, so I’ll try it down here.

    First of all, Happy Birthday to you too, and may you have many more happy ones.

    The story of your childhood birthday party, brought back memories of a party our young son to which our young son was invited. I learned afterwards that he was the only boy that was invited.

    Any wrinkles or age spots can just be chalked up to laughter lines or character lines.August 15, 2015 – 2:39 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you so much Pat! That’s awesome that your son was the only boy at the birthday party too. I’ll bet the birthday girl kept his gift to her. And yes to laughter causing the wrinkles and age spots! Great way to look at it!August 16, 2015 – 5:01 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia Bishofs - So, so, so beautiful! I would read a book about your childhood. The Sentence about losing your innocence after realizing that people will hurt you on purpose and by mistake hit close to home. The part about the soapbox is so gorgeous and how you move from one segment to another is beautiful and effortless. Love you.August 15, 2015 – 2:46 amReplyCancel

  • Patricia Elaine Brockett - Happy Birthday to you too! Your story about your childhood birthday party made me think of a time when my son was invited to a birthday party and he was the only boy. I think he was about 5 years old at the time.

    Aging is so revealing in a lot of different ways. The older we get the more we come to understand ourselves, and I think that is a very good thing. If you are lucky, the wrinkles are either laughter lines, or character lines.August 15, 2015 – 6:20 amReplyCancel

  • Patricia Elaine Brockett - Happy Birthday to you too. The story about your childhood birthday party reminded me of a time our son was invited to a birthday party and he was the only boy there. He was five at the time.

    Aging is an interesting process and definitely a time for reflection. The older we get the more we learn about ourselves. The wrinkles are just there to remind us of the times we have laughed. The rest are there to show us a little bit of our character, and the rest eventually we will be too old to see.August 15, 2015 – 6:28 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - I should have written something for this one, but summer & kids home & just feeling blah these days, so I didn’t. My husband, my oldest, and my youngest all have birthdays in August within a 6 day span. My oldest turned 13. I’m officially the mom of a teenager. How did that happen? On the one hand, I don’t feel like I’m old enough. On the other hand, I feel so old – like I’ve aged 20 years in the last two. Age never used to bother me – turning 30 was son big deal. Now? The thought of getting nay older makes me cringe. High school reunion in October & I have no desire to go see those people – rather for them to see me. Birthday & getting older – bah humbug!August 15, 2015 – 8:45 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I don’t blame you on the blah Lisa but happy birthday to all celebrating this month! Gulp to being the mom of a teenager. It really does go by so so quickly. I haven’t been to ANY of my high school reunions. I probably won’t go to any either. Our school was so large and some of my friends are in other grades who wouldn’t be there… so forget it!August 16, 2015 – 5:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Jean Baldridge Yates - Oh wow I do love this. We have a huge age gap but you and I are so much alike it is crazy.
    The things you remember are the things I remember and I love you for that! jeanAugust 15, 2015 – 9:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Christine Organ - I love how you combined your childhood birthday with your present one, as well as your thoughts on your son’s birthday and your own. And happy birthday month! I hope you take a million photos.August 15, 2015 – 11:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Mimi Sager Yoskpwitz - Loved all of this. So true about wanting to see the photos one day! I was laughing at the part about studying old photos an comparing to your current self. I was just doing that today. Myself, ask anticipate one of those milestone bdays u mention next month. Happy birthday month to you! Loved hosting with you! xoAugust 16, 2015 – 2:07 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Mimi! And ugh to studying older photos. It’s so hard to realize that we did really look good even though we thought we didn’t. But then we’re going to think that about now in seven years too… Loved hosting with you, Sweets!August 16, 2015 – 5:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Kim Sisto Robinson - I runined my 40th.
    Just didn’t want it.
    Now, I want it back!!! xx kiss from a girl who lies about her age!August 16, 2015 – 5:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa Moskowitz Sadikman - This is fantastic Kristi! The sweetness of the soap right up next to the shock and violence of Ricky’s black eye is so powerful. You so perfectly describe the anxiety around aging and time going by that we all feel once we’re adults, no matter what birthday it is. Yes, please take photos this year – I want to see your smiling cake smeared face, even if it’s blurry. xoAugust 16, 2015 – 6:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Scott - I don’t think I’ve been excited about a birthday since I turned 21. Once you’re old enough to drink what’s the point?August 16, 2015 – 9:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - Poor sweet Ricky. Have you ever tried to find him on Facebook? My first crush was when I was seven – Chris Jenkins. He used to buy me snacks and lunch and sneak them in front of me and then bolt before I could see who it was. My friend spied for me and told me.
    30 was five years ago for me and feels like ages ago. I was SO young and I didn’t know it.August 17, 2015 – 10:03 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I did try but haven’t seen him since I was six. Oh to the SO young and not knowing it.August 17, 2015 – 10:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Lauren Jessica White - I love that you still have the soap. I’m also grateful for the reminder that capturing today’s imperfections is important- for all kinds of reasons.August 18, 2015 – 2:02 amReplyCancel

  • Roshni AaMom - Ever since my 40th, I’ve changed my stance about thinking of birthdays as no big deal! I want them celebrated my way (and Lord knows I’ve been practically militant about it)!! LOL!!
    I’m so touched that you kept that soapset all this while! I hope he’s safe and happy now, wherever he is!August 18, 2015 – 7:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Sandra - As one forty-something to another (I’m almost 47, so yeah, I get the wrinkles and grey hair…oh did you mention grey hair? Sorry, I’m hating mine…Little bitter, I won’t lie) although I hate that we’re closer to death than our birth (very well yet cryptically put by the way), I will go with the cliche that wisdom does come at a price, and sometimes those wrinkles are worth that price…because I’ve done some majorily stupid shit. You painted such a vivid picture of Ricky (and I can’t believe you’ve kept the soap!) I was taken aback and sad at his confession that his dad beat him. I didn’t see that coming at all… 🙁August 20, 2015 – 1:01 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sandra! You’re almost 47??? I turn 47 on Saturday. I didn’t mention grey hair but I should have. My highlights have gotten lighter in the front more and more and ugh ugh ugh.
      And I love that the wrinkles come at a price because I’ve also done some really stupid shit. Sorry about Ricky. I’ve now reached out to three of them on Facebook and haven’t heard back from any yet…August 20, 2015 – 11:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Deb - I could not love you (or your writing) more. Happy, happy birthday, my friend. How can you be anything other than 27? xoxoAugust 21, 2015 – 2:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Debra Cole - I could not love you (and your writing) more. Happy, happy birthday. xoAugust 21, 2015 – 6:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Crystal Cook - Beautifully remembered and written . . . I found myself having flashbacks to my own Ricky and wondering what became of him (his name really was Ricky). This year, perhaps I’ll make an appearance or two in the photos I suppose I’ll allow on my birthday 🙂August 25, 2015 – 5:53 pmReplyCancel

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