I can only hope that, from the other side of the wide angle lens of childhood, Miss M won't distinctly recall her fourth birthday as woefully inadequate. Hopefully that will just be my memory, another log on the ever-burning pyre of maternal guilt.
I blame Wednesdays. Wednesday is no reasonable day to have a birthday. It sneaks up in the middle of the week. Monday comes and you think there's so much time left to plan, Tuesday slips away too fast, and then there you are, running out of work on Wednesday night in hopes of getting home in time to supervise the opening of three hours' worth of presents piled up in the living room. The cake and gifts were all Miss M really expected, but I still felt that our scrambling approach to her big day was a pretty weak excuse for a celebration. But no matter, I thought, we'd make it up at her party.
Oh, crap, the party! As of Saturday morning, there was no theme, no decorations, no games, no plan at all. I spent the day wracking my brain and finally McGyvered up some decent ideas. Just before I hit Party City for all the needed gear, I checked the forecast. My entire outdoor-based plan was instantly foiled. Tired, hot, and Rocked'n'Romped out, I went to bed Saturday night with no clear vision as to how we were going to entertain the dozen children about to breach our defenses.
The promised rain was already coming down when I got up and headed to the grocery store at 8:00 Sunday morning. I felt strangely invigorated by the challenge of pulling off a party this close to the last minute, though, and I woke up enough to conjure up a menu that I hoped would, for once, please our small guests as much as the tall ones. I got back home and The Admiral and I set to work preparing the house for the coming onslaught. We were alternatingly cleaning, cooking, and requesting that Miss M please return her new stuff to her room, and after a Twister-offering text from Kristy, I started to feel like we'd actually be able to pull this off.
And then the phone rang. I don't think I want to discuss what that call from my sister was about, not yet, but it put an instant pall on the day's festivities. I tried not to let on to Miss M that anything was going on, and I think I pulled together enough Norseness to keep our adult guests from detecting anything, but I couldn't help feeling like the party ended before it even began.
The show went on, of course. There's no stopping the train of a pre-schooler's birthday party. The children ran happily amok and the adults enjoyed each other's laid-back company, as well as a pleasing variety of Coca Cola-based food products. Based on the contented exhaustion with which Miss M fell into bed last night, she had a full, happy day, and I hope that's how she remembers it. It will stick in my memory for other reasons, while at the same time standing on its own as the marking of another year filled with both sorrow and incredible joy.