Ah, birthdays. It’s that time of year again. The time of year when I get really nostalgic at the thought of my baby being another year older, really teary-eyed thinking about my mom and how special she made my brother and I feel on our birthdays, and I start breaking off way too many over-used mommy-isms like “Where does the time go!?” and “Too stinkin’ cute!”
It’s also the time of year when I stress myself way the heck out in trying to throw together the “Best Birthday Ever” for my boy and always feel like I did such a horrible job that he’s sure to end up on the Today Show with Matt Lauer reading excerpts from his latest memoirs, “No, She Was NOT Mom Enough!” Good times I tell ya. Xanax, anyone?
But this year feels really different somehow. This last year or so of my parenting, I have been longing for the ’70’s! No, not so much a hankering for bell-bottomed corduroy pants with patches on the butt or lemon yellow VW Square-Backs (although cruising up to Safeway with my wooden box full of coupons in one of those bad boys would be really sweet!), but more of an earthy grab at my heart. The need to get back to my roots. To the way I was brought up. To the way I always envisioned bringing up my own kids. For some reason (and I will default to blaming my OCD here as I’m pretty sure it blanket covers this nostalgia obsession too) I have been hyper-focused lately on bringing my son the same experiences that I had as a kid, especially with family traditions and celebrations. More specifically, birthdays!
It seems the norm nowadays for birthdays (or maybe it’s always been this way?!) is to go some place and pay to play! Yes, it is fun for the kiddos. Yes, it looks great for the picture albums. Yes, it is a lot less work. But when I was coming up, we didn’t go anywhere to celebrate a birthday. When we were kids, your party was at home! ALWAYS. I think when I was 12, I begged for a roller skating party (because everybody else was doing it!), but we still came back to the house for the party!
Well, I tried. Last year for my son’s 3rd birthday we went to a kiddie park, well, because everybody else was doing it. I still stressed about it way too much even though all I had to do was provide the cake and show up with my kid. And I paid A. LOT. MORE. than I expected too. Way more. Don’t get me wrong though, it was fun. I enjoyed seeing the looks of pure joy on my son’s face and seeing him run around with his little friends. Of course he has absolutely no memory of it at all, but the photo albums will be full and we can say “Look, you had a ‘Go Some Place’ party!“……..just as soon as I get around to printing off those pictures…….and the ones from all the years before that day. But it just didn’t feel right to us as parents. It felt like we were at somebody else’s kid’s party. It didn’t feel celebrated. It didn’t feel like home. So, this year, I am making a vow to bring back the at-home birthday party! OCD get behind me – I am doin’ it! Okay, well, now that I am solidly in the preparations of it, it’s more like OCD tucked in a little box and wrapped with Duck tape and twine and shoved in the trunk for a few days. 😉
But I’m doing it. I’m doing it for my boy the way my mama did for me. From the theme, to the homemade lunch, to the thought out (fun, yet practical!) favors, to the decorations, to the homemade cake, to the games, to the stress, to the everything. It may not come off without a ton of hitches, but darn it, I’m doing it!
Here’s a look back at what I’m looking forward to this weekend!
Just like the lunch, our cakes were always homemade! I remember sitting at the table the morning of my 8th birthday and watching my mama dance around the kitchen making this cake, just wondering what it would be this year! (Okay, I was probably thinking more along the lines of “OMG what is she doing with all those soup cans?!? My life is over!“) And the older I got, the more uptight I would get because I just knew her “creation” would be messed up somehow. I would beg for one of those store-bought cakes in the pink cardboard boxes, you know, with the lard-based icing? But, every year, her birthday cakes were just more amazing than the last year! In fact, I don’t ever remember a birthday with a store-bought cake………except for that one year we had a bunny-shaped Baskin Robbins ice cream cake. But I was probably being a pain in the butt and cried until she caved and bought it. Didn’t taste nearly as good though.
And you would sit around the living room floor and eat your cake! Of course, the floor was covered in drop cloths. Oh Hai! It’s a 2 year old with a new set of OCD!
LOVING the paper tablecloth!
Or you would sit around the kitchen table and close your eyes and make your birthday wish with your best friend in the whole wide world standin’ next to ya rockin’ his school bus shirt!
And you got presents! Presents that were wrapped in PAPER and tied up in RIBBONS! And the best gifts were wrapped in the comic pages and tied with twine! And you had to wait for your mom to get the scissors out and cut off those ridiculously tight ribbons that moms make their kiddos put their fingers on to make the knots and you would tear into those things! The anticipation in seeing what was inside was AWESOME! Second only to trying to decide what to play with first! Nowadays, the toys are slipped into bags and you can just look over them and see what’s inside. No sweaty palms or shaking hands there!
And you were always so jazzed about what you got! Whatever you got! And gladly posed for the “Thank You” shots while your friends moaned or Ooohed with jealousy and seemed to languish from having to sit through it all! But man, that was a great feeling. After sitting through a whole year’s worth of your friends opening gifts, FINALLY it was your time to shine!
And there were always good friends! These were not random kids that your parents invited to fill space at a “Go Some Place” party or cousins you hadn’t seen for a year or kids you had to be friends with ’cause your parents were friends. No, these were your homies! These were your Saturday morning go-to’s! These kids would give you the second Popsicle on the stick when yours fell in the gutter! These guys would trade Big Wheels, sleep over, and get in trouble with you! They had your back from the playground to the park and back again. Man, I miss every single one of these guys.
And this is what I hope my boy starts to feel a little of this weekend. That even though the cake may have been messed up, the games were probably lame, there weren’t a ton of people there, and the pictures were blurry and never printed, I hope he carries away the memory of the feeling. That the party was an attempt to celebrate him and all of the love he has brought into our hearts, our family, and our home. Well, shoot. Now I’m crying. Again. Happiest of birthdays my boy. I hope you love your homemade Recycle party as much as I love you. ♥