Have Her Cake…

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!

Some more “healthy” inspiration:
– Hands“, by Jewel
– “Firework“, by Katy Perry

14 thoughts on “Have Her Cake…

  1. That sounds like a lovely birthday! I remember my childhood birthday parties so vividly. In my emotions they go like this: frenetic anticipation, guest- and sugar-induced craziness, pleading for people to stay longer, sense of loss when the party’s over. Your small-scale party sounds much saner and more enjoyable! And when you’re all recovered, you can take on bigger parties again if you feel like it!

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    1. Hello Lisa! It was a lovely affair, albeit on a smaller scale. No fun was spared, and that cake had enough sugar to go around for all of us! I’m glad you still have such vivid memories of your childhood birthday parties and the anticipation that came along with it. Those emotions are definitely common to all no matter how one chooses to celebrate. By time I’m all better, I’ll be ready to celebrate MY own BDAY! I’m a sucker for birthdays! 🙂

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  2. First, let me say this was funny! I really enjoyed reading it. I had de ja vue about parties at our house when I was a kid and we were waiting on my uncle LOL! Hilarious! Kids are simple and it’s so easy to make them smile. We forget that, don’t we? The birthday parties are for us to try to show in some measurable terms (i.e. Clowns, bouncies, gifts, too many guests etc.) how much we love them. You “stumbled” (no pun intended) on the right idea. I hope you feel better and thanks for posting this. It made laugh, brought back memories and put things in perspective.

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    1. Rena darling, good morning! I’m glad that I was able to “humor” you while putting things in perspective, as you so eloquently described in your response. You mean that was your uncle I was talking about? LOL! 🙂 You hit the nail on the head when you said “It’s so easy to make them smile.” Let’s keep that in mind as we happily forge ahead as parents, in our efforts to delight and celebrate them. Thanks for reading!

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  3. Yay you for finding a new, simpler way to celebrate, and for raising a little darling who was able to revel in it! Sounds like it was a very sweet celebration.

    And here’s another yay for your very wise husband! Glad you listened to his advice to take it slow. 🙂

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    1. Good morning Ré! Yes, “Yay me” for my wise husband. I definitely trust him, even more so now, as I realize that we’re in this thing together, and that he would never steer me wrong. I’m SO happy to have found a more meaningful way…and yes, sweeter…to celebrate these kinds of occasions. I am taking it so slow these days, it’s actually humbling! 🙂 Amusing too, I might add! 🙂

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  4. Wonderful story! The girls are blessed to have Parents that understand the importance of authenticity in raising their children. As parents we set standards that our children could care less about – this story shares with us that celebrating life is truly about having your cake and eating it too!

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    1. Thank you, Valerie! Beautifully said! I feel blessed to have my little girls, as they teach me new lessons every day. They force me to go deeper, and to crystallize the truly important things in life. I will continue to push beyond the boundaries of conformity as I teach them about setting their own course. 🙂

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