April 3, 2012 by Gina
Carin mentioned last week how May is a BIG birthday month in the Kelly household. Finn’s birthday is also in May and he has proclaimed that he wants a robot cake! So, about all I’ve done is googled some ideas for robot cakes. I know I still have one month to get a gift or two, invite a few friends over and make that robot cake, but it will be here before I know it.
Today, my friend Meredith (Max, as I have always known her) confesses about her lack of birthday planning for her oldest child, William. I’ve known Meredith for almost 20 years. We met when we were both in our early 20’s, stationed in Germany without many cares in the world. We were young, spent our holidays together, ran in the Hash House Harriers and enjoyed much wine and fun together. Kids were far from our minds. Now, we’re both moms and navigating life with children and all of the responsibilities that come with them…like birthday parties.
I must admit, I’m not normally one to succumb to that omnipresent specter: Mommy Guilt. I’m usually confident about my decisions as a parent, and for the most part I sleep well at night knowing that my wonderful husband and I are raising some pretty terrific kids, (mostly) minor glitches aside. But it seems that today that determined phantom has caught up with me. You see, tomorrow (April 1) is my first born child, William’s, eighth birthday, and I’m currently in the middle of baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies. It’s about the best that I can do at this point to add some home made love to a day that I find myself woefully unprepared for. It’s not as if I didn’t know it was coming! Why, just a year ago he turned seven, it’s not like I didn’t have time to prepare. Heck! I was there when he made his grand debut on this earth and was generally aware that along with motherhood came the commitment of observing the happy occasion of a child’s birth.
I’m not one who feels compelled to have over the top birthday celebrations, although, last year’s was pretty cool, if I do say so myself (Reed Family Blog). But some type of fun and festive celebration of the occasion is in order. As far as tomorrow goes, I got nuthin’. I have a few lame-o excuses for why this is: 1) We live in rural Belgium, the American community is scattered over an area of over 30 square miles with lots of “goat path” roads; just arranging a play date is something of a major chore. There aren’t even any local kids nearby. 2) Because of our location, there’s a dearth of party options to pick from, so I wasn’t particularly inspired — let’s see…. we have the very shabby bowling alley on the installation near us, and… not a whole lot else. 3) Friday was the last day of school before a two week (TWO WEEK!!!) spring break and a lot of families are already on their way to exciting locales that feature wonderful things like the sun! So, here we are. Me, and Tollhouse. Given all that, there is a party on the horizon. My superfantastic husband stopped by the gym and reserved the space for a party. On Friday before school let out I went by William’s classroom and dropped off invitations to the entire class to come to the gym on April 21 for a couple hours of bouncy house fun and cake. Given that I was sending invitations home with a bunch of seven and eight year olds three weeks before the event and right before they were going on an extended break from school, it’s a complete mystery how many of those invitations will actually make the critical leap of getting in the hands of their parents. I’m hoping that William’s teacher will indulge me the week before the party once the kids are back in school and send out a reminder email to the parents. We’ll see.
One more confession: in the midst of my malaise with the birthday party, or lack thereof, I also neglected to buy a gift. (Yep, Mom of the Year! Right here!) Again, my beloved completely came to the rescue on that front as well. He went by the PX (Post Exchange) today — they had, um, not much — so he went to a local toy store and picked up a big Star Wars Lego set. I’m just not even going to think about the price in Euros vs. dollars and what it would have cost if I had indeed been my usual proactive self and ordered online ahead of time. The last batch of cookies is in the oven (it’s a tiny euro oven, a standard US size cookie sheet won’t fit, I have to bake one tray at a time on a small nacho pan I have) and I need to wrap up the legos. I’m sure I won’t be ponying up for therapy down the road about this lapse, but I just wish that I had been a little bit more on the ball. I’m also confident that the bedlam, I mean, party on the 21st will be fun for William with whoever is able to make it. Maybe I should just go ahead and start planning for next year…