Parentless Parents: It's My Birthday!

03/19/2011 05:27 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Yesterday was my birthday, and here's what I did:

7:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.: Got birthday cuddles from kids. Opened birthday cards. Received small presents. Got kids off to school. Kissed husband. Felt lucky.

8:45 a.m.: Birthday breakfast with friends.

10 a.m.: Attended Geography Bee at son's school. He's in the finals, and I was excited to cheer like crazy.

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Lunch with friends, followed by walk along the Hudson River.

12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.: Yoga.

2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Massage at my local spa (babysitter arrived for school pickup while I was being rubbed with aromatherapy oils).

4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.: Manicure and pedicure at local nail salon.

5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.: Walked home (did I mention that I walked everywhere and refused to get in the car until dinner?).

5:30 p.m.: Arrived home, and really appreciated my kids because I hadn't seen them all day. I was super relaxed and had exercised. I was feeling great!

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.: Hung with kids. Tidied the house (it makes me happy). Got ready for dinner.

8:00 p.m.: Family dinner at Ethiopian restaurant. On my birthday, I wanted to try something new -- and smiled when kids and husband did, too.

My birthday was incredibly self-indulgent. And why not?

One of the most important lessons I've learned since my parents passed away is the absolute necessity of taking care of myself. I've come to realize that I am the only person responsible for my happiness -- not my husband, not my friends. Here's how I describe this epiphany in my new book, "Parentless Parents":

What I've learned is that I can no longer go through life just being a mother, wife, writer, and homemaker. I need to take on one more additional role. I also need to be a parent to myself. I don't need to wait for anyone to treat me to anything. And I don't think my parents would have wanted their daughter to rely solely on somebody else to take care of her needs, either. My parents, after all, taught me to be self-sufficient.

As you go through your day, think of me enjoying every bit of mine. Even though I can't share my children with my parents, and especially given all the horrors unfolding in Japan, I know I am one of the lucky ones.


Here's the link to make my birthday dreams come true: buy a copy of "Parentless Parents"!