I thought I might win an award for “Worst Mother of the Year” or something, but then I realised I was exaggerating a little because almost forgetting a child’s birthday isn’t exactly like abuse, neglect, or forgetting to feed a child. I mean, in my defense, we have had a lot of things going on lately. Well, it’s not so much that we have had more going on than we usually do, it’s just that I have become an extremely poor planner lately. For some reason I find myself overwhelmed when two or more things need my immediate attention and since having a toddler means someone or some “thing” always has part of my immediate attention a lot of stuff just goes undone. Like birthday party planning.
At least a month ago I started thinking about what we were going to do for Tiny-Small’s second birthday. I decided I was going to make her a zoo animal cake and maybe have it at the El Paso Zoo. This sounded like a great idea at the time. It would be a small, family affair. We wouldn’t go as hog wild as last year when we invited every person we have ever spoken to or shook hands with. No, this year would be simple and small, but Samantha would get to see an elephant and a giraffe in person. Yes, this would be a great way to create some special memories. It sounded perfect in my mind.
Then, we decided to attend a wedding. The wedding will require us to take a 7 hour plane ride and is taking place just a few days after Tiny-Small’s birthday. Then, on top of that, we decided that two weeks after the wedding we were going to take another trip so we could celebrate our niece achieving her PhD in the field of Psychology (A REALLY big deal). Anyway, I was fretting about the zoo party and cake making when I heard the voice of God say, “Do you really want to drive all the way to the El Paso Zoo and then three days later drive all the way to the El Paso Airport? That might be a bit much.” OK, it wasn’t really the voice of God. It was the voice of reason and by voice of reason I mean my mother. She did kind of make sense, even though I am usually completely against following advice from the voice of reason. Then, she suggested we just celebrate Tiny-Small’s birthday in the middle of June (after all of the trips are over) and I’m not running around in circles like a chicken with it’s head cut off. Nothing whips me into a frenzy like multiple plane trips, packing, and trying to do all of the stuff I usually do at the same time. Not to mention the all consuming fear and anxiety that taking a toddler on a plane for the first time can evoke in even the most healthy, serene and happy spirited of mothers (or of people in general). I spent the last month alternating between a deer caught in the headlights and a slightly taller and less pink version of Piglet from Winne The Pooh.
I decided we would do the whole party thing later, in June, just to save my sanity, but that we would have cake on her birthday and maybe she could open a gift or two just to mark the occasion. Fast forward a month or so to yesterday: I am standing in Walgreen’s staring at their sunscreen selection. When, out of the blue, I remember tomorrow (today) is Tiny-Small’s birthday. I have no presents bought or wrapped, no cake plans, no nothing. All I could do was stand there, helplessly breathing in and out, trying to control the impending doom of a full on panic attack (the kind that can only be induced by one’s inner, superior child who screams, “What kind of mother forgets her only child’s birthday?”). Between all of the visits to the insurance agent, making hotel and plane reservations, raising 6 baby chickens, hair appointments (so I don’t look like a country mouse in the big city) and constantly rewashing all of the clothes we want to bring (but keep wearing in the meantime) I had sort of forgotten what day it was.
Anyway, today is Tiny-Small’s birthday (well, unless you are reading this on another day which is quite possible because I will probably procrastinate on publishing this one). I am supposed to be baking a cake right now and squishing clothes, toiletries, diapers, electronic devices, and car seats into a suitcase, but instead I am sitting here completely overwhelmed. When I get overwhelmed I stare into space and think about all of the things I need to do and then usually start doing something completely random and not at all on my to-do list. For example, right now I should be baking, packing, feeding chickens, mopping the floor, or making sure the bathing suit I bought Tiny-Small actually fits. Instead I am sitting here blogging about being a terrible mother and fantasizing about what I want to have for lunch.
I’m just glad Tiny-Small is only 2. She doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles. She’s happily playing with an old balloon and wearing a crown tiara that says, “Happy Birthday!” She enjoyed getting a piece of candy before lunch (which is against the rules except on your birthday) and getting an early car ride to the insurance agent’s office (Nothing screams HAPPY BIRTHDAY like the quest for affordable health insurance, right?). I’ll get her cake baked in time for her dad and I to sing happy birthday to her before she has to go to bed and she’ll get to blow out all of her 2 candles. As for presents? Well, I think we are going to get her a swing set and hope that makes up for all of the trauma we may have caused by almost forgetting her birthday this year. There is a long tradition in my family of drawing your birthday out for as many days as possible. My sister, in the past, was an expert at this. She figured out how to stretch the birthday celebrating out for weeks at a time. I like to think we are just giving Tiny-Small a head start on this family tradition and that by the time she is a teenager she will be the equivalent of a Jedi Master when it comes to birthday celebrating. Either that, or I hope she LOVES the swing set and the zoo enough to forgive me for kind of being bad at being human sometimes. Either way, I love that little girl so much I think my heart might burst. She is truly the best thing that has ever happened to me. Happy Birthday, Tiny Small!