In our house, December and the first part of January flew by. We spent so much time getting ready for Christmas, spending time together before Andy left, and getting everything ready for when Andy left that anything else was pushed aside. Then Andy left, and I realized that I had not planned anything for Anya’s birthday. I had presents and always make a cake and treats for her class. I usually tried to throw her some kind of party as well – last year, she had a party at a local pizza place in Davenport, Iowa with some of her classmates. I should have tried to do something along the same lines this year. But I’ll admit that it slipped my mind, and I realized rather late that I had planned nothing. I thought about doing a party by myself, but even I have to know my limits and realize that with three kids, a limited budget, and a tiny house, this would be a miraculous feat.
I knew she would be disappointed, so I’ve been trying to make it up to her. I took her out on her birthday to dinner, just the two of us, and as a compromise, I told her she could have a friend sleepover. I limited it to one friend, and she agreed. I also agreed that her friend could spend the entire day with us. I did not think this would be a big deal – what’s one more girl, right?
It is only 8:00 pm here, and I am already overwhelmed. We have done make-up, nails, and play-dough. We have eaten and made snacks for our movie time. They have opened presents, which consequently means I spend another forty-five minutes opening the packaging for all the presents. We have told stories, played dolls, and ran around our small townhouse screaming. They are just now starting to wind down, to my relief (this is partially my fault, since we set up our traditional movie night food spread. You can see what I mean by the picture). I’m hoping some sleeping bags, tons of pillows, a good movie, and some alone time in Anya’s room will finally do the trick.
This makes me think of the many, many sleepovers I attended or hosted when I was a kid, and it again makes me wonder how mothers do it all. I had sleepovers where there were ten or more girls in one house, and we stayed up late. We were naughty, sneaking more junk food or giggling about the most of the night. Anya and her friend are relatively low-key, and I’m still exhausted. Then again, there are two very jealous little people to contend here as well.
Anyways, I sit here wondering how and why our mothers did it – were they crazy? Did they live as I do, on a constant stream of coffee and hoping that things will get easier as they grow older? If I think about it, I can guess why they did all the crazy, stress-inducing things they did for their children. It is for the same reason that I tried so hard for this birthday with Anya. All we want is to make our children’s lives memorable and to support them, and the guilt of feeling that we have failed at all is more painful than the trauma of hosting a sleepover. It may be difficult for me to do this, but a lot of things I do for my children are difficult. I do them so that they can be happy and will look back on their childhood as I do, knowing that they were able to try things and that they had some wonderful experiences. So we suck it up, smile, ignore the voice in your head screaming, “Are you insane? You’re letting them use your $20 mascara?” and keep on drinking that coffee. I’m going to need it after all – I gave up my bed so the girls could watch movies all night. To the couch I go!