In that year, so much has happened. Not surprising, my husband and I have changed in many ways. Some good, for example we cook and eat at home more often. Some bad, we aren’t as punctual as we once were. And some surprising, our ability to roll with the punches. The phrase “Let Go and Let God” has truly become a motto in our household. So much so, that a couple months after my daughter’s birth my husband had the phrase tattooed on his forearm as a constant reminder.
Thank goodness for the constant reminder because sometimes, Letting Go and Letting God is hard.
And yet, going with the flow is important not only with a child but in life.
This message was something we had to live and experience when it came to my daughter’s first birthday party. The story starts back around Easter when I was already looking forward to and beginning to plan the special day. I know it was early, but I was excited. I filled my time scouring pinterest for the perfect theme… which my husband and I (let’s be honest, I) found… The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It was perfect! It was educational. It was cute. And a menu (which was even somewhat healthy!) was practically laid out in the book! PERFECT!!
Excited about the decision, while visiting on Easter I shared the theme with my cousin, my aunt and my mom. When I did, my mom dropped a bomb on us. She and her husband had received a Save the Date for his cousin’s son's wedding. The wedding was on Baby Girl’s Birthday – we had to move the party.
A little taken aback (and to be honest a little annoyed as it was less of a request than a demand) I let her know I would have to talk to Don about it.
And I did. A LOT.
He was annoyed (to put it mildly). He didn’t like that we were “told” what to do. He didn’t understand why my mother’s husband’s family would come first… this was her first and most likely only grandchild. Round and round we went, for a MONTHS!
Finally a little more than a month before her birthday, the stalemate was broken and he conceded it really didn’t matter. My mom and her husband were going to be the only grandparents who would be able to make it, after all. His parents and my dad and his wife both live out of town and both had made it clear they weren’t going to be able to travel up. It would have been spiteful to schedule something when we knew they weren’t going to be able to make it when especially when there was no reason not to move it. In the end, it wouldn’t be fair to Tierney and it wouldn’t be fair to them. AND, they have been very generous to us and her.
It wasn’t worth fighting over. We let go. We went with the flow.
Once the date was set, we got into the thick of planning. We decided on a location; picked out, ordered and mailed invitations; decided on favors; planned activities; shopped for supplies… we had a good ole time.
Everything was set to go. As of Friday approximately fifty people were planning on attending. Excited and unable to sleep, I was up at 3am on Saturday baking the dozens of cupcakes. And, Saturday night I was up until after midnight finishing some decorations and getting a plan for the next day.
With everyone thing almost in order, Sunday morning I got up early to finish the preparations. I stuck to my list, slicing up the fruits and getting trays ready. Made sure the dogs were taken care of. As it got to be about 8am, I woke up Don as he had some finishing touches to the Hungry Caterpillar Toss. All the while I was grateful Baby Girl was sleeping in. Gave us a little bit of time without her under foot. Everything seemed to be going smoothly.
As it approached 9am, I decided it was time to wake up the guest of honor afraid if I let her sleep too much longer she wouldn’t have time to sneak in a late morning nap before the 1pm party. Didn’t want a cranky birthday girl!
So upstairs I trekked and there I found her still asleep, and groaning slightly. Struck me as odd, but maybe she was just having a bad dream… she does that now and again. As I crept to the side of her crib, she rolled over and let out a howl. It was the type of a howl all parents know, something wasn’t right.
Cooing to her gently, I lifted her from the crib. She was BURNING UP. Looking at her closely, I quickly noticed that her face was flush, her cheeks were swollen, and, her eyes were puffy. It was apparent she was sick.
Kicking myself thinking I had jinxed myself the day before by saying to Don, “We are soo lucky. We’ve really had a healthy baby. No major illnesses.” And him then saying, “You know she feels really warm to the touch today, I think something might be wrong.” Now she was waking up the day of her birthday party, sick.
There was not time however to worry about that. The situation had to be assessed further. Into my bedroom we went to our nursing chair where I gave her a bottle. She ignored it. Instead she snuggled into the crook of arm and went back to sleep. Not a good sign. It was then, I heard Don’s footsteps on the stairs. When he got to the top, I murmured to him to get a thermometer. He retreated and came back with four (nervous nelly!). Taking her temp, we found she had a low grade fever of just under 100.
All I could think was, now what? Do we cancel the party? But what about all the food? And all the time (and money!) we put into this shindig? But, she’s not that sick. Maybe we still have the party? It’s not like she would remember anyways? And, it’s only two hours after all?
Don and I talked. We couldn’t make a decision. Spoke to my mom. And still, we didn’t know what to do.
At the very least we decided to call a friend who was driving from a couple hours away to the party. They told us they were coming anyways, even if it was just to drop off the present.
With that, we decided the party was still on. It’s only a couple of hours after all. Don brought Baby Girl downstairs to snuggle and monitor the situation. And I got back to prepping. On to the devilled eggs!
As I was shelling the eggs… an arduous task as the egg’s shell was sticking… All I could think about was my baby girl. She was miserable. She was nestled into her poppa’s arms, not moving. Groans every now and again. She really wasn’t going to have fun at this party.
And then I thought about our guests. They were coming to see and celebrate how much she has grown in the past year. With her sick, they wouldn’t be able to observe how much she has blossomed into a feisty and compassionate little girl with a wicked sense of humor and amazing dance skills. Rather, best case scenario they would see a sick child snuggled in her momma’s arms and worst case, a screaming child complaining because she hurts.
It was with that recognition it became clear to me that if we had the party, Don and I were being selfish. It would have been all about us. We’d be “trying” to show off how much we love our daughter and what great of parents we are. Look how much time and effort we put into the party after all…That disgusted me.
So around 11am, we started the phone calls. The party was cancelled. We did, however, invite people to stop by the house and take food. We had enough to feed an army.
And people did stop by. Some folks dropped by and stayed. Others dropped in and after grabbing some food and favors, were on their way. It ended up being a small, intimate affair of a little more than a dozen people. Close friends and family.
It was nice. And, while not feeling great, Baby Girl seemed to enjoy herself. She got to stay in her jammies (she’ll wear the beautiful dress my aunt made another day). She got to be snuggled by me, her Aunt Sarah and Auntie V, and Nana rather than passed around. And shortly after opening her presents (after only being up a little more than an hour), go back to bed.
She didn’t get her smash cake, she’ll get that another day. She didn’t get to play with her friends, we’ll set up playdates. The left over food, we’ll eat up or I’ll freeze. The activities, they were planned so she could grow into them so she still has a number of years to enjoy them. So while it wasn’t what we planned, it worked out.
We could sit back and be disappointed. Could have fought through the roadblocks and forced the day. But that wouldn’t have been enjoyable for us or anyone. And who knows, maybe this was more enjoyable than it would have been had it turned out as planned. We did after all get a little more intimate time with folks. Who knows…
The experience has made me reflect on the bigger items in life. Like this party, there are many things in life that don’t go as planned. How often do we the fight to and try to force the plan? How long do we stick to an ideal before we give up? Or conversely, how often do we hold on to the smashed dream and the sadness that it didn’t happen before moving on? Are either worth it? How much easier would life be if we went with the flow and adapted? I know it’s not easy… It took me ALL morning to come to the realization that the party might not be meant to be. But perhaps if we consciously work towards letting go and going with the flow, life could be easier. Happier. I know Sunday was for me!