As each birthday approaches for my children, I have an inner struggle between what I envision is the perfect birthday and what both my children want and I can manage effectively. I love the themed parties, with the coordinating invites and matching decorations and finger foods. I admire the women (and men) who seem to pull them off seamlessly. All of the time, effort and creativity is inspiring. I am certain that their intent is to make their kiddos happy and to turn a birthday into a magical time. There can be lots of love behind the party games and the intricate cakes. But then I wonder, is it really what the children want, or what the parents want? There is the key for myself.
Mr. Two is a very opinionated little guy. He is the first to tell me if he doesn't like something, and the first to enthusiastically shout, "I love this!" about something he approves of. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, these are the things he wanted. Believe me, he really knew what he wanted because I asked him several times.
1. Hot dogs for dinner.
2. A chocolate Nemo cake.
3. To play games with the family.
My initial thought was, "How on earth am I going to mesh those things together into a birthday theme?" The more I pondered this, the more the realization came that it wasn't important to connect all the dots together to make an impressive picture. It was important to listen and to act on what my little man wanted. The connecting link was that these were all things that made him happy, and isn't that what a birthday celebration should be all about? As this impression settled upon me, I went about making his day just what it should be: A day about celebrating Mr. Two.
We started off the morning with a trip to Krispy Kreme doughnuts for his free birthday dozen and a paper hat. Later, he wanted to water paint, so out came the watercolors, the water bowl, the brushes and the paper. I watched him paint with his tongue hanging out, deep in the creative process.
On the weekend, we had his party at my parents' house. We had a chocolate Nemo cake (which Mr. One helped decorate for his little brother), grilled hot dogs, opened presents and played games with family. That's it.
And the beauty of the whole thing was that everyone had fun, focusing on my sweet newly-three year old. I wasn't stressed out over the invites and the flower arranging and the party favors (we didn't need any of them). I just soaked in the opportunity to listen to and love my cute birthday boy and build memories. Isn't that what life is all about?