Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Marching into Birthdays

Somehow I managed to have my children 3 years and 361 days apart, thus making their birthdays a mere 3 days difference. I LOVE birthdays. Normally. When my kids were little I was one of those "overboard" moms. The parties I threw! OMG. I was insane, frankly. I would plan them for six weeks, starting sometime in January to consider the theme...

My favorite party for my daughter was the Japanese birthday. I went to downtown Denver at the Pacific Mercantile to search for little goodies and all things Japanese, like Hello Kitty favors, unusual Asian candies and plastic chopsticks, of course, all in take-out containers. My daughter is a huge fan of Udon noodle soup, so of course, I served 30 kids Udon noodles. There were lots of paper umbrellas in fruit punch, and the top of the day was cake and Mochi! Mochi are little hollow rice pastries stuffed with ice cream, coated with rice flour -- the perfect carry around ice cream treat for a bunch of six year olds. SIX YEAR OLDS.

The best birthday for my son was two years ago in the midst of my new romance, a party at a local hotel with a poolside wizard's theme. We rented two rooms since my apartment was too small for anything like a slumber party. Kids from his class came and swam and then had wizard cap upside down ice cream cones. Then a few boys stayed for an overnight extravaganza that included pizza in the restaurant with a live blues band. The boys who stayed, swam themselves to exhaustion and then destroyed a hotel room. We took the dog, and she temporarily escaped to explore the neighborhood. The boys got up and swam some more until their parents arrived and picked their soggy little bodies up. Perfect for SEVEN YEAR OLDS.

When I think of these parties, I am aghast. Aghast. What have I done? Now, that I have sobered up from who knows what infection that was, my inclination is to go to the nearly extreme opposite. It's not that I want to ignore them, but just to give small, quiet acknowledgment of how much my children mean to me. HOWEVER, what I've done cannot be undone, and anything small now looks like Mommy no longer cares. The fact is that now that my priorities are straighter and more practical, I simply cannot afford to do these extravaganzas anymore. It's not that I wouldn't love to do them if it were within reason and my budget. But those parties are memories of another time, another me, and I can't allow them to hold me hostage, even as they may, and probably will hold my children hostage.

I've put planning their celebrations off, hoping for a windfall that would allow a little more, but with hospital bills, dental bills, new glasses and a new timing belt for my car, it seems no amount of extra flow will catch me up in time. I am somewhat demoralized, and gritting my teeth about telling them that the celebration will be small this year, and that I love them and hope they can accept me as I am today because I will always accept them.

March was my least favorite month until I moved to Los Angeles years ago because the weather in Colorado is wet and cold just when everyone is ready for spring. Then it became my favorite month because of the birth of my two precious teachers and the endless celebration of birth. Now, oh my, it is a month of conflict for me to finally do the right thing for my children and for our stability.

Can we so easily be reduced to economy? Is there any way to celebrate without celebration's costs? Parties in the park are iffy propositions in Colorado in March. It could snow a foot. Our cozy home maxes out at four kids. Sigh. Do you think I could talk my kids into postponing their celebrations until the sun shines more surely upon us? No. There is only one birthday a year for each of us. The beginning of our yearly sojourn around the sun. It must be acknowledged as we can, in the moment, and then let go for another year.

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