It's my son's birthday in a few weeks; his first one since his dad moved out.
Much like as at Christmas, I am unsure how to handle this. And much like as at Christmas, I just want a big, family celebration for him which everyone is included in, not lots of bitty, break-away events at various relatives' houses, or him going out for dinners and activities which are not attended by me AND his dad.
This is obviously more of a huge issue for me than it is for him. Being nine, any celebration is a good thing, and the more there are, and the more cakes and presents which come with them, the better.
I think though, when you have young children, their birthdays are just as important to their parents as they are to them. When they are small, the memories of the day they were born are still so fresh, so emotional. I always, without fail, have a little private cry on my son's birthday, and make a point of always being aware of the time, and as I wrote last year, I make sure I look at my watch at 3.15 in the afternoon and remember that moment I first held him in my arms.
I don't know if this will change as he gets older, or if this is another weird emotional attachment I have to him because he is an only child, and because I feel so guilty about the environment he is now growing up in. But I do sometimes think parents get forgotten a bit on their kids' birthdays, and that it should be a celebration for them as well.
Some friends of mine used to celebrate their kids' birthdays with champagne and leftover cake once the little ones had gone to bed, and another family I know always go away on the weekend closest to their children's birthdays with all the various grandparents and cousins for a real 'family' celebration.
I come from a family where birthdays were not make a big thing of, and generally ignored once adulthood was reached. Perhaps that makes me overcompensate with my own child, but I cannot imagine ever not wanting to be with my son and making a huge fuss of him on his special day, whether he is nine or 29.
Even though his dad and I were separated on his last birthday, we were all still living in the same house, and made a huge effort to ensure he had a lovely day. And he did - and so did we. This year, geography is going to make it that little bit tougher, but I really hope that despite everything, it can still be something of a family affair, and a celebration for us all.
What do you think? What do you do as a separated parent for your children's birthdays? Do they have two celebrations? Or does everyone come together for the child's special day?
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