Birthdays are a big deal in our house.
Like, a huge deal. We truly love any excuse to celebrate, but celebrating who our kids are and showing them how special they are to us is always of the utmost priority. We will always celebrate getting older around here because we know what a privilege it is. And, that’s how we look at birthdays. We go big. But, not in the “throw the most expensive parties with the most elaborate party favors” kind of way. More like an all-day party filled with little fun surprises and festivities all catered around the person of honor. It’s about showing them that we see them. We see who they are, and we celebrate it. Rejoice in it. And love every bit of it exactly as they are. It’s a Best Day ever, kind of a day. This sounds great in theory, but after already planning for months for our oldest girl finally reaching the double digits, this social distancing/quarantine thing has knocked the wind out of our sails, to say the least.
And I was thinking. I’m sure there’s a lot of other moms in our same boat right now. Looking at birthdays and milestone celebrations and end-of-year shindigs won’t happen that everyone was looking forward to—sacred time with friends and family on hold. Or lost. That circumstance has stolen from us, in a sense. And, I’ve never been through a pandemic before, but I do know what it feels like to have time stolen from you while staring at a plan B you really want nothing to do with.
I get every bit of that. But, I also know you have to grieve what has been lost. It may sound ridiculous when we are all sitting in our homes, thankful to be healthy and alive and not currently under martial law, but there is still loss here. There is still a loss of how we thought things were going to be right now—leaving us with a coping and grasping at a life that is new and struggling with every bit of the unfamiliar and uncertainty of it all.
So, grieve. Say goodbye to all the things you had planned for. Write down a list of all the things that make you sad or angry that isn’t going to happen and watch it catch fire and burn up in your fireplace. Cry in the shower. Go for a run. Do yoga in your front yard. Do whatever it takes to find a way to be able to embrace our current circumstances. Because, honestly, the only thing that we really have going for us right now is a whole lot of plan Bs. Although I’m not an expert in this, I would like to say I have had some practice and some honed skill through experience to come up with a really awesome plan B.
So, what we will do to celebrate in our house is have a day of YES. I’ve gotten into such a habit of saying no, that the girls nearly expect it before they even ask their question. At times, I even have to back-track and change my no to a yes because that’s the actual, more logical answer. (Exceptional mothering going on over here!) So, with the set guidelines of anything within our home that doesn’t change its structure, cost Momma a million dollars, or risk anyone’s personal safety, I’m going to say yes to the birthday girl. And I’m going to give her days in advance to think about it. Ponder all the things she would love for me to say yes to—daydream of what a marvelous mother I will be on that day. And, let me know in advance if it’s things I need to get prepared for. (Mentally and physically) Where it will at least give her something exciting to look forward to.
To help her feel connected with her family and friends, I will request small videos to be sent to us. Telling her how much they love her and the things about her that make her special and how she makes this world better just by being in it. And, I’m already tearing up just thinking about how special this will be for her! Something she would not have if we were not all cooped up away from everyone. Something she will be able to keep and hold on to. Go back to, if she ever needs reminding of how great everyone thinks she is. I’m super excited about a priceless gift: I think we might even put it up on the big tv in the basement and all sit down together with some popcorn and all cheer after each person. Saying, “We agree! She’s pretty great!”
Lastly, we are going to do all the normal birthday stuff. We are going to blow up all the balloons. Put up all the streamers. Dance in the kitchen with our dogs. Maybe buy an essential piñata on our next food run. Have an awesome birthday cake and cookies with all the sprinkles, and let her make all the wishes and blow out her candles with a big “Hooray!”
Because, if I know anything, I know our kids look to us. They look to see how we are feeling about what is going on and wage everything around that. No, this may not be the best birthday ever. Yes, she may remember it like the one I remember where my little cousin ate the sugar decorations off the top of my cake before I could. But, it is still a day worth celebrating. Still a day worth doing the best we can with what we’ve got. Still a day full of wonderful opportunities. I know it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay, even if it’s not perfect or ideal or everything or even partly the way we had imagined.
There is still good hiding behind plan B. Magic always shows up when we least expect it in the moments that weren’t anticipated but fell into place perfectly, all the same. I also know that this is not forever. This is just a moment in time. And I’m going to do my darndest to make the best of it. Because, if anything, there is still a little girl that needs celebrating. That will be turning ten in the midst of this, whether I like it or not. We will still get to watch her blow out her ten candles. We will still get to watch her make a wish. We will still get to watch her hold the sparkle in her eyes. And, that in itself is worth being thankful for. That is worth all the effort I can muster in the middle of this crazy pandemic. That is worth a perfect plan B birthday.