Today my youngest child turned three. I remembered his birthday sometime Friday evening. Somehow I think the "Mommy of the Year" is going to bypass me again this year. It's not so much that I forgot his birthday, it just snuck (sneaked?) up on me. One day it was October 9th, a few days later it was the 11th... the time in between is a bit blurry (and no, I wasn't drinking... this month). We threw together a dinner party in his honor, invited the family (although only grandparents could attend on such short notice), made cake, served ice cream, and a good time was had by all.
If we only had one child it would be so much different. I remember Chris's first birthday. It was amazingly organized. I set the party date a couple months in advance. The invitations were designed on the computer using MS Publisher. It was a dinosaur theme. I decorated the cake myself. It was homemade carrot cake baked in a dinosaur shaped pan. The cake was delicious and it was a work of art. You should have seen it. The color scheme for the evening was green and orange (to go with the dinosaur theme... being a 4-H Program Coordinator involves some event planning, don't ya know). The dinosaur was green with orange spikes. He was some of my best cake work ever. I made treat bags for all the kids we invited to the party.
We used the good china. I think we may even have used the silver (the real silver silverware, not the stainless steel silver colored silverware). I served homemade raspberry lemonade in an antique glass pitcher. Secretly I marveled over how simple it was planning and throwing kid's parties. I wondered why some moms just gave in and served food from the freezer section (value added product) and glopped store bought frosting on a cake mix cake. I mean really, how hard is it to just put together a simple homemade party?
Fast forward seven years. Can you believe I didn't even think about setting a date for the birthday event until 2 (!!!) days before the kid's birthday? Not only that, I didn't even decorate. There was no party theme, no decorations (unless you count the chair where I piled presents as grandparents arrived), no color scheme, no good china, no silver, no antique pitchers (although I did serve pop out of a plastic bottle). The cake started it's life in a box on the grocery store shelf. Jake came out while I was cleaning the puppy pool and crumbled one edge (about 8") of the cake into a bowl to eat while he was waiting for me to return to the kitchen. I just put extra frosting on that side.
One question that keeps returning to my mind is: Are people with multiple children different than people with no children or only one child? I think they are, which leads to another question: Were these parents different before they had more children? Or did having more children change the parents? I think the children changed us. If Chris were my only child I would not be the woman I am today. If Chris and Sam were my only children I would not be the woman I am today. If I have three more children I will not remain the woman I am today (and really... heaven help us all!). Life's experiences shape us. Things I believed to be vitally important seven years ago (like color schemes for birthday parties) don't even register on my radar for importance today.
Some stuff I thought might be nice (like visiting one on one with grandparents) I now find incredibly, amazingly essential. Keeping a set schedule, providing party favors, decorating the cake with a set pattern (you know, so you can tell that white blob of whipped cream is a puppy instead of an inkblot)... it doesn't really matter. Having our family with us to celebrate Jake's birthday, that's much more essential. Relaxing and enjoying the day instead of stressing over whether the invitations were mailed with the best looking stamp... much more important to my children.
P.S. That pink cake is a Raspberry Cake. All Jake wanted for his birthday was Raspberry Cake. We've never eaten or made a raspberry cake before (at least not that I can remember) but it was his main request. This recipe has raspberry jello powder as well as a package of frozen raspberries baked in the batter. It is more violently pink on the inside than it is on the outside. The frosting is whipped cream mixed with a package of frozen raspberries. The whipped cream really tones down the color. Just in case you were wondering it was delicious :-)