Despite my blogging at length about how we would NOT be having a big birthday party for our daughter who turned 4 on Monday…
We had a big 4-year-old birthday party for our daughter on Monday.
I had, as you may remember from reading Birthdays are like feedlots… and not because they stink, decided to relieve myself from the stress of trying to get all of Emi’s loved ones in the same place at the same time for a big party and instead claimed that we would spend two weeks spending purposeful, significant hours together and with the people she loves… just not all at one time.
But that was before an 8-pack of Doc McStuffins party invitations made its way into our house.
And of course the invitations were begging little Emi to send them. They said to her: “Send me! Send me! A birthday without a party is no birthday at all!”
And so I relented. I figured: what would it hurt for Emi to invite the 8 most special people she could think of to stop by our house on her actual birthday? I also reasoned that we were sending the invites late enough that some of the recipients wouldn’t even get them before the 23rd. So I helped Emi make out the invitations for a 6 p.m. get together, thinking we’d have cheeseburgers and confetti cake (her choices) and then send everyone home.
She chose her 8 recipients all by herself. (This is, I hope, one of the biggest challenges of parenthood: letting them do things their way even though it sure isn’t the way you would do it.) Emi’s invitations went to:
- Grammy-n-grampy (who count as one).
- Her great-grandmother, GG.
- Big cousins Nate-n-tay, who also count as one, who I knew for sure wouldn’t make it because the party was scheduled for a school night and also because Emi spent the whole weekend at their house, so thankfully their cousinly-togetherness-quota was fulfilled in other ways. (Secretly I thought to myself: heh, heh, heh… Invitation No. 3 is a freebie for me. It’s like leaving a phone message. You leave the message so whoever you called knows you made the effort… but secretly you’re relieved you didn’t have to talk to anybody in real life.)
- Her best gal pal, 6-year-old Rylee.
- Aubrey, Emi’s other favorite little girl, who Emi met one single time (!) and who lives about three hours away.
- 70-year-old Vergal, who lives at Butte Camp.
- 30-year-old Brian, who lives at Horse Camp.
- 10-year-old Ryker, who lives at Ridge Camp.
Emi can’t read, so she never knew that I addressed the invitations to include the families of her rather awkward guest list. She signed each envelope with her signature Walking E – Lazy M – Monogram I, and we mailed them. She was one happy little girl as she anticipated the bash. Over the next couple days, Beau and I invited a few more folks to round out her random choices. (Because can you imagine Vergal, Brian, Ryker, Rylee, and Aubrey attending a party to which no other guests had been invited?)
And then, on birthday party night, people showed up. There were 25 of us here, 10 of ’em kids! It was wonderful to see everybody and I sure appreciate everyone making an effort to make our little girl’s day special. Emi was thrilled that the evening was all about her, and the video that Beau took of her as we all sang Happy Birthday to her is absolutely precious. Our middle child was clapping along with the beat, as best she could muster anyhow, and she was positively aglow in all the attention.
As always, I like to jot down a few notes after any event to summarize what I learned. I used to think I did this in my ongoing quest for self-improvement… as though I would, for instance, keep churning out better and better and better birthday parties as the years went by as a result of my perfection-inducing notes.
Now I just think I make lists because I am a little bit OCD.
Anyhow, here’s what I think after this latest event:
- Professional cake-makers are underpaid. This is the cake Emi wanted for her birthday:
Looks like a fairly simple project, right? Definitely a do-at-home kind of cake. That’s what I figured, anyway. We purchased the Doc McStuffins figurine and a boxed cake mix, and this is what I churned out:
Not too bad, huh? And it was a fun project… but it took hours of concentration. And three (!) batches of frosting. In my effort to level the cake I quickly used up two batches of frosting, then had to make a third to tint the various colors and put on the finishing touches.
I started the cake-decorating adventure about three hours before the guests were due. While I was busy decorating, Baby Marsielle kept herself busy scattering thumb tacks all over the house, then was relegated to her crib, where she screamed until she fell asleep about a half hour before party time.
Mothers like me suffer from this problem of feeling guilty the whole time they’re focusing on a project like this cake, because doing it means that some or all of the children must be ignored in order for Mom to accomplish (distracted at best) concentration.
So I tediously squeezed frosting out of Ziploc baggies for three hours while the 4-year-old “helped,” then endured a half hour of screaming baby. To say I was a little shaky when the guests started appearing is a gentle way to put it. But I recovered pretty quickly, and Baby Marsielle has forgiven me for withholding my attention from her, and, as far as I know anyhow, no one stepped on a thumb tack while they were here.
2. I have an ache in my gallbladder today, probably the result of taste-testing every shade of frosting that went on the cake. I am nursing it with my self-prescribed, result-of-online-research remedy: glugging down lemon juice.
3. Grammy and Grampy caved and presented to Emi the Barbie camper she said she wanted for her birthday. Assembling Barbie campers is not for the faint of heart, but we got ‘er done.
4. Emi wanted a piñata for her birthday, too, so we ordered one from Amazon and the UPS man delivered it right to our front door. It’s shaped like a 4. Unfortunately, we forgot to get any prizes to fill the piñata with, so we didn’t get to break it open at the party. Luckily Emi readily accepted that the piñata would just be decoration for the party. Someone suggested that next year, for her 5th birthday, we should break open the 4 to signify the passing of a year. Good idea… but that’s assuming the piñata survives our house for a year. There are several threats to its existence here: the baby might eat it. The 6-year-old might cut into it with his (very own, very small) pocket knife. Or I might store it somewhere… and then forget where I put it.
5. I know we need to send thank-you notes. Emi can’t write, of course, but she can sit by me while I write them and at least start to comprehend the importance of thanking the folks who think enough of you to celebrate your big day.
Sigh. I will put “write Emi’s thank-you notes” on my never-ending, two-years-behind to-do list. Because I am her mama.
Happy birthday, sweet Emi! Thanks for your help with the cake!
© Tami Blake