This past weekend was my daughter, Sarah’s, 2nd birthday. Like most mums, this got me totally excited AND in an absolute tizz as the day approached. Friday looked something like this: Shop for last minute fresh food for the party tomorrow, complete baking for Se’s birthday ring, attend birthday ring, fetch ice-cream cake in Pinetown, fetch Se from school at 12, fetch Greg (my brother) from the airport at 2, entertain in-laws and 2 kids for the afternoon and then make it to Spur for bday dinner with family and friends by 5pm (Whilst it STORMED outside). What I find with days like these though, is that once in mommy-on-a-mission mode, I’m totally capable of literally taking over the world. That is, until evening approaches, and I’m irritable, need wine and potentially tearful too.
In amidst all the chaos, and FUN, that is prepping for birthdays, I failed to notice the pending expectations that I was placing on each birthday element. Her 1st birthday ring at school needed to be sweet, SPUR dinner (pizza and singing) had to be a success, the birthday morning of opening prezzies had to be super special and then the PARTY. Oh the party HAD to be a hit. Not for us parents but for the kids. I imagined them climbing jungle gyms in the hot summer sun (at the venue we’d hired) whilst nibbling on fruit (our theme was two-tti fruity) and then licking ice-cream cones and washing it down with liquid fruit juices. And then if that wasn’t enough, we’d planned a full day of excitement at Ushaka for the Sunday. You know, to end the busy-iest weekend ever, on a HIGH note!!
Thankfully I had pulled in the reigns this year, and played it small when it came to party planning. I did everything myself, except for the cupcakes and ice cream cake. Kept the adults food simple with cheese platters (easy to prep on the day) and kids food and décor was all fun little projects I worked on in the weeks leading up to the big day. But even then, without the huge expense element, STILL somewhere deep down, my hopes for a perfect party had crept in.
Now, to pause for a second. Anyone who has a toddler knows that perfection and toddler can’t possibly fit into the same sentence. Unpredictable, moody, loud, messy or chaotic maybe. .but not perfect. Jumping into my reality, you can add ENERGETIC, INDEPENDENT, and out of control to the mix too..and there you have our delightful Sarah.
Pre-party build up all went so well. Her birthday ring was incredibly special, as was our Spur dinner and prezzie opening on birthday morning. And then, I opened the curtains, and much to my ‘perfection expectations’ it was drizzling. Not a heavy rain but rain enough to destroy my every hope of Se’s summer-y Two-tti fruity party.
I felt tears prickling my eyes as I searched my cupboard for a NOW winter outfit, and adjusted Se’s outfit too. But in that moment, I caught myself. There I sat with the MOST delightful 2 year old on my lap. 2-year old. The very kid that was conceived in a month that I supposedly didn’t ovulate (blood tests said so)..and yet I was getting caught up in THE WEATHER. Seriously. Of all things. The weather!! My tears quickly went from disappointment to utter gratitude. I couldn’t live without my Sarah. And THAT day we had the honour of celebrating her BEAUTIFUL ‘wild’ but free life!!
I’d be exaggerating (which I do often..eek) if I were to say that the party was a fail. Even with a light drizzle, much to my delight, much of the weekend was pretty perfect. We did have rain on her birthday, which didn’t QUITE fit my Two-tti fruity theme but I got to watch my daughter play with her besties and squeal with delight as we sang to her.
To drop all of our expectations is unrealistic (I feel), I actually think they’re healthy. They push us towards a better world and they place in us a HOPE for tomorrow. My encouragement instead is to take each expectation with a pinch of salt. Let it build hope, but not destroy a beautiful reality..however unperfect that may be.