The more I get in touch with who I am, the more I am convicted about how I should invest my time, energy, and money. As the birthdays of my daughters loomed on the horizon, I considered how we would celebrate them this year. The birthday parties of last year and the year before just couldn’t be done, as they entailed more planning, labor, and finances than I cared to invest this year. We would have to take it down a notch, and scale back financially. As I became more attuned to Spirit, I realized that we needed to do something differently, even if it meant a lower-key celebration than in years past; however, I struggled to balance the warning to heed my own inner voice and the desire to give my daughters a special birthday celebration.
I considered various plug-and-pay (oops, I mean “play”) places and venues that cater primarily to children: Chuck E. Cheese, inflatable amusement parks, and other such operations designed to make it “simple” to celebrate the guest of honor. Inarguably, those places are strictly for kids, but adults hate them almost as much as kids love them. The food is usually meager, and tastes just okay, it’s loud as hell, and if there are kiddie areas, they usually feature ball-pits or shared apparatus that are cesspools for viruses. The smaller kids get stomped by the bigger kids, who know good and well that they have no business occupying the little kiddie areas. Then to add insult to injury, adults are subjected to a frenzy of antsy children eager to redeem tickets for some cheap dollar store chotchkes. Parents wait impatiently, arms teeming with children’s gear and goodie bags, and when it’s over, everyone swears that it will be a while before signing up for this mess again! As much as I’ve come to despise these places for their success at sucking us in, they were options worth considering, particularly during this period which my dear friend calls “forced convalescing”; nonetheless, I just couldn’t bring myself to prepare for a stampede of unruly children or for playing musical rooms. Not exactly what I had in mind!
Conversely, I also wanted to steer away from a celebration where the focus becomes more about entertaining the adults. The poor birthday child (if you can find her) keeps asking “Mom, when can we cut the cake, when can we open my presents?” “Not now baby, we’re still waiting for Cousin Lester to come.” LOL!! The adults are drinking it up, listening to grown-folks music, probably well on their second helping of food already, and there is nothing else for the children to do but pester the adults. I also wanted to avoid a celebration that was too over the top, or required too many moving parts. I’ve found that in those instances, both the birthday child and parents are overwhelmed. Though my physical limitations were enough of a reason to reel the party in a bit, my conscience screamed even more loudly, “less is more, party-girl!” In the bigger scheme of things, it mattered little to my daughters how much I spent on their birthday parties or where I chose to have them. The decision was mine to make.
When our youngest daughter’s birthday came about on May 16th, I suggested to my husband that we invite four or five of her friends, do one craft activity, have a light bite, and follow with cake and ice cream. It seemed easy enough, or so I thought. I would order the cake, and coordinate the activity while perched at the kitchen table, with my feet propped up on a chair. My husband was perplexed and said “Whoa! Slow your roll, butterfly!” He insisted that I was already getting way ahead of myself, given that I was just closing in on my second week after major invasive surgery. So instead, we agreed to extend our small family celebration to just one other family with children close in age that could also enjoy the same experience.
Needless to say, my little ladybug’s “party” turned out to be a beautiful and special celebration! I soaked it all in as I watched my birthday girl dance with her friend and sister, to Katy Perry’s “Firework” (their girls’ empowerment anthem), and “Four Boys Named Jordan”. Of course, I had to put on “Single Ladies”, by special request, for the birthday girl. (I’m still not sure why that song is so infectious among such young children.) They danced, played, laughed, spun, fell out, and giggled as they held hands and caught glimpses of their reflections in the oven door. Unlike previous birthday parties, I did not have to corral a herd of children, or tend to a burdensome list of items. This time, I was fully present. After cutting the cake and opening her cards and presents, she very contentedly remarked, “my birthday party is over, Mom…I had fun!” Our one guest family packed up to return home, while we picked up what little there was to pick up, and quietly retired for the evening. Our little birthday girl was ready to call it a night without being exhausted or over stimulated. When it was all over, I was thankful to have had a simple affair, as it brought pure enjoyment to the one who matters most…our youngest birthday girl.
I’m not sure how we’ll celebrate our oldest daughter’s birthday yet (May 25th), but whatever we do will be beautiful and special. At minimum, it will reflect simplicity, and my desire to “take back” and re-inject our own meaning into birthdays and other family festivities where going overboard will no longer be the norm.
Don’t worry….my daughters will certainly have their cake, but I’ll eat it too!