It’s Sunday morning. May the twelfth to be exact. And it’s a very special day… It’s the day we’re celebrating JoyfulOne’s birthday with the whole family. All of us. All four hundred and twenty eight parents, siblings, grandparents. Which is why when ArtGirl’s dad walked into the house at 8am this morning and asked JoyfulOne if she’d wished her mother a Happy Mother’s Day, she crossed her arms, stomped her foot and insisted
It’s NOT Mother’s Day. It’s my happy birthday party day.
There’s a lot of wisdom in this declaration which I’ll get to in a minute, but first let’s talk about the celebration of the shortest one’s birthday. There were the saddest Lorax cupcakes you’ve ever seen on her actual birthday. She took these to school to share with friends.
And a birthday can’t really go by without a little celebration – even if the big celebration is scheduled for later in the week. So there was a giant rainbow cake and some singing on Tuesday.
If you’re keeping track at home, that’s two cakes for one four-year old’s birthday. Today though, today is the real celebration, so there’ll be one more cake. Boots the Monkey has been requested, so I’ll be baking for the better part of the morning and afternoon to make this happen. This is our family’s untradition – the one where we honor our kids’ birthdays simply. Hoping to instill in them an understanding that love is more important than gifts or money or gigantic blow-up bounce houses in the backyard on birthday party day. After the baking of the third cake though, I’m re-thinking the whole simplicity thing and considering a giant bounce house would be a lot easier. Maybe next year.
TheDad suggested we celebrate JoyfulOne’s birthday on Saturday. To avoid confusion over a birthday being celebrated on Mother’s Day. I laughed. Maniacally.
I really only have the bandwidth for one celebration this weekend honey. Let’s just proverbially kill both the birds with one big rock.
Which pretty well sums up how I feel about the whole celebration thing. Not the birthday of course, that’s fun. After all, a girl only gets to turn four one (or three) time(s). Celebrating kids’ birthdays is one of my very most favorite kid things to do. And despite the fact that two of our six children will have melt-downs over the shortest one getting all the attention today, and one of the kids will have a meltdown over the cake being chocolate but the icing being white and we know he only likes chocolate cake with CHOCOLATE icing and how could we be so cruel and insensitive (have you ever tried to make chocolate icing into the color pink? or purple? or boots colors? because it’s technically impossible), and one more of the kids will have a meltdown over being told he can’t eat an entire bag of potato chips ten minutes prior to dinner… it’s going to be a lot of fun. What, you don’t believe me?
Mother’s Day Perfection
And this is why celebrating a birthday on Mother’s Day is so perfect I can hardly stand it. What say’s the celebration of motherhood more than a complete immersion in birthday induced family drama? The only thing that might be more perfect is going on vacation together on Mother’s Day. All of us. To a place only two of the kids want to go and the rest have to go along and complain about the whole time. Which is, you know, pretty much ANYWHERE we might choose to go.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s Mother’s Day. Stop complaining and just enjoy the day. One day you’ll miss all this. And you would be exactly right. One day I will be my mother, sitting in my quiet house next to the phone, waiting for each of my children to call in turn. I’ll be thinking back to all the Mother’s Day celebrations filled with homemade cards, attempted breakfast in bed, handprints and poems, Yoda cakes, and I will actually miss this.
STOP BLOWING YOUR NOSE WITHOUT A TISSUE TORNADOBOY!!!!!
Yeah, I’ll even miss that.
But here’s the thing, I’m immersed in the whole Mother thing. I’m so deep in the watching kids blow bubbles with their gum and clapping my hands when they successfully jump on one foot without crashing into anything breakable, assisting in the building of duct tape swords and battle axes, putting on of band-aids, cooking of chicken and mac-n-cheese and baked beans and twenty-seven other things at least three of our six kids will not possibly eat, and counting to exactly seven while short people hide so I can “find” them… I’m having a hard time with the whole appreciating what I have right now.
I know. We’re not supposed to say that out loud.
But I did. I’m saying it out loud. Because we’ve perpetuated this whole Mother’s Day holiday for so long SOMEBODY had to out it.
Do Unto Others
It reminds me of the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. I say bull puckey. It should read like this:
Do unto others as they would like to have done unto them, dammit!
So. Want to know what a perfect Mother’s Day might look like to this mother of seventy two kids? Here’s what I thought I would write – when I started writing this post. I thought I would say something like this…
I’d like to wake up naturally, at 9am. Not 7am with two little fingers prying my eyes open. And I’d like to then roll over and fall back to sleep for another hour. I’d like to get up then, shower, dress, and go to Starbucks with my computer. I’ll sip hot chocolate and write for several hours, then head home, where I’ll find my house completely clean and dinner waiting on the table. All the kids and TheDad will be there, we’ll eat seafood and fried okra and corn on the cob and homemade biscuits and every single child will wax poetic about how good everything tastes. One of the shorter kids will say something silly, and the entire family will laugh happily at the innocence of it and no one will make fun of the short person. There will be cake too. One I didn’t bake. And it will have that whippy icing I love and I’ll get to have TWO pieces. At the end, the kids will shoo me back to Starbucks to finish writing and they’ll clean up the mess. Then they’ll put themselves to bed and I’ll come home just in time to have a long, uninterrupted conversation with TheDad about how perfect the day was.
That’s not exactly true though, this parenthetical description of the perfect day. I can’t even write it without cringing a little inside. Mostly because my day actually began at 7am with my eyes being pried apart by a newly minted four-year-old who wanted to go downstairs and make sure her birthday balloon is still intact.
Come on mommy, come on! Let’s go see if my biwftday bawoon is still on da chaiwr and if there are pwesents!!!
And while Starbucks wasn’t in the picture, after breakfasting with my two daughters and giggling over Despicable Me, I snuck upstairs and was able to pound out this blog post before being summoned back downstairs for cake baking duty. And even though the kids fought with each other, they also played capture the flag for two hours with all the kids in the neighborhood. And even though I had to bake the cake, I did put the whippy kind of icing on it and got to eat half a piece before the demand for present opening won out. JoyfulOne opened presents and all the kids clapped for her – even though they’d rather have been doing anything else than watching their four-year-old sister open Barbie dolls and crayons. AND, at eleven-thirty tonite, just before TheDad passes out from a day filled with wrangling kids, baking, cooking, cleaning, and capture the flag, we may actually get to have a five minute conversation about how much fun we had.
I’m banking all this today. Because I called my mom this morning and wished her a happy mother’s day. She told me about who else she’d heard from and how they’d fill their day. None of it included singing happy birthday or cakes with whippy icing or duct tape battle swords and all I could feel was a little sad for her. So I’m holding onto the sounds of bare feet on hardwood floors, two kids plotting the eradication of rival neighbor tribes via duct tape warfare, three kids arguing over shotgun, and one little girl smiling wistfully as we sing her happy birthday on this happiest of Mother’s Days.