It’s the middle of BIRTHDAY SEASON in our house. We have a birthday every month from October to February. We have two in February, with mine being the very.last.one. By the time my birthday rolls around, I feel like I’m lurching across the birthday finish line, and it is all I can do to get through it with a small celebration. But right now, it’s mid-January, and I’ve got a lot of birthday party planning energy left.
Now I know that birthdays don’t require big parties or endless celebrations, but the truth is, I LOVE BIRTHDAYS, and I love celebrating them with our kids. I love the ritual. I love the cake. I love it all, and I love planning them too. I have shameless birthday love.
I think my love of birthdays is due, in large part, to my family’s birthday celebrations growing up. In my house, birthdays were always a big deal. Cake, balloons, giant happy birthday signs, the works. As one of six, it was one of those special days that was all about the birthday girl/boy and what she/he wanted. We got to pick the dinner that night. We got to pick the cake. We got to open presents and have everyone else oooh and ahhh and take it all in. And we always had fun, creative parties, even if they didn’t cost that much.
It is similar in our house. I usually have balloons or streamers in the morning, and we all wake up excited to celebrate with the birthday girl (or, boy, if it’s Seth, ha). The birthday girl selects her cake. And she gets to plan a birthday party. I may do a lot of things half assed, but I’m all-in when it comes to birthday parties and birthday party planning. Which is not to say that the party itself has to be elaborate; rather, I spend time making sure the party reflects my child’s interests and personality. (Disclaimer: yes, the triplets' first birthday party was completely over the top, but hey we survived their first year!).
And so, right now, I am busy helping my sweet three-year-old Emily to nail down what exactly she wants to do for her birthday, which is in just two weeks. First it was the trampoline park. Then it was a princess party at the new toy store in town. Today, it is ice skating. Yes, my three year old wants to have her birthday party at the ice skating rink. Nevermind that her friends won’t be able to do it. Emily has declared that she will. Have. An. Ice. Skating. Party.
Emily is, in many ways, my last baby, even though she has three younger sisters. She was the last baby that I nursed all night on demand. She was the last baby with whom I stayed awake a little longer to marvel at her tiny fingers and toes (there's not any extra time to do that during the night with triplets!). She was a baby who was always happy to held, snuggling in like a little koala bear. She was a chubby, radiant ball of baby and she’s stayed that way, minus the chubby part. I was never hurried with Emily, and I enjoyed soaking in every moment of her babyness and littleness, because, as my third baby, I knew she’d soon be running circles around me.
Sometimes, when it’s quiet and we’re all alone, she whispers to me that she’ll always be my baby. Maybe that’s because I remind her, yes, we have three babies, but you’ll always be my baby. And so, my baby will have an ice skating party if that is what she really, really wants. She tries so hard to keep up with her big sisters. As much as I want her to be little, she wants to be big like her big sisters. She tries to stay up as late as they do. She tries to run as fast as they do, and play as hard as they do. She tries, but she doesn’t always succeed. One time she recently did—ice skating. Over Christmas break, I took the big girls ice skating and she WAS able to keep up, with the help of milk crates that steadied her little legs. She started off slow but soon took off, zipping up and down the ice rink without any help from me. She had so much fun. She was so happy to be keeping up with them, and doing exactly what they were doing. And I can understand why she’s ready to do it again.
I can’t wait for Emily’s ice skating party. It will be chaotic and fun. She will skate her heart out and be so excited to with her friends, who hopefully won’t be slipping and sliding on the ice. And then, when everyone gathers for birthday cake and starts singing happy birthday, I’ll wait for that moment I always wait for. That moment—when everyone is singing happy birthday, and my daughter looks around and sees everyone smiling at her, loving her. And my eyes will fill with happy tears, knowing that my daughter feels special and loved. I wish I could bottle up that moment and carry it with me, and pull it out whenever they’re cranky (or I’m cranky). But I can’t. So instead, I’ll get busy planning the next birthday party. Until next time….