Make Your Child’s Birth Date a Time to Stop and Smell
Nov 20, 2015 08:37AM ● Published by Audrey Sellers
By Leah Spina
Maybe I’m different from most parents, but I love children’s birthday parties. I love hosting them and I love attending them. I feel they help us busy parents slow down and celebrate another year of life that God gave us with our children.
But as much as I love children’s birthday parties, I’ve begun to enjoy their actual birthday even more. Instead of the chaotic happiness of 20 children running around, it’s a simple day in our house of celebrating that child and thanking God for another year of life with them.
Yesterday we celebrated, privately as a family, Samson’s 5th birth date at home. (I CAN’T BELIEVE WE HAVE BEEN PARENTS FOR FIVE YEARS!!!!) Two-year-old Esther and I entered his bedroom singing the Happy Birthday song and pulling back his racecar-themed black and white checkered curtains to let the morning sun seep through on this happiest of days.
Samson’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. “I’m FIVE! I’m WEALLY big, now! And, and, and I’m BIGGER THAN ESTHER.”
Well, yes. Yes, you are.
I let him choose his own shirt to wear BECAUSE IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY! Huge smile and he choose a Ninja Turtles t-shirt.
I let him choose breakfast BECAUSE IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY! Huge smile and he chose waffles.
We hung the two-dollar, multi-color happy birthday banner in the kitchen that we hang for every family member’s birthday and then left for Target to buy ingredients to make a cake. That’s the only thing we had to buy and I love shopping trips like this: just to make a memory.
Sometimes when I’m taking the kids on normal errands, I get upset and impatient at spills, interruptions, messes and discipline because they are messing up MY PLANS. But just-for-fun trips like this help me put on a different parenting mindset. This is 100% to have fun with my kids and build our relationship. We tired mamas need it as much as they do!
“Wheeeeeere is it? Wheeeeeeeere is the cake aisle? HERE IT IS!” I gasp, as if we just entered Disneyworld. I slowly showed Samson all the cake mixes and frosting containers. (We were going total anti-organic/healthy and full-on processed – hurrah for a tired pregnant mama and ease for a just-five-year-old chef!)
After careful deliberation, my precious white-haired boy choose a white cake with confetti and dutch chocolate icing. I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit just writing that combination, but WHO CARES?!!?! It’s his birthday!
We zipped our grocery cart over to the party supplies and nabbed some ninja turtle cake plates and napkins then headed to the express lane to check out. Samson asked if he could have a bag of those ill-placed processed food snacks at a child’s eye level. You know my answer by now: SURE! IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY! I reveled in watching my children chomp the ultimate unhealthy snack with orange faces. What a happy, happy day!
At home, Samson cracked the eggs in the mixing bowl while I swiped out egg shells after each one with my finger. Yes, it took a lot longer with a much bigger mess for Samson to make his cake, but that smile when it was done? PRICELESS.
When Dave returned home later that day, he took Samson to buy his birthday present: a big, “real” ninja turtle bicycle and hilarious/hideous turtle bicycle helmet. (Please don’t laugh at him if you see him riding down the street). Then our tiny family gathered around our wood kitchen table to sing happy birthday.
As Dave popped five candles into the chocolate icing, my pregnant eyes welled with tears. “Honey!” I burst out. “Can you believe our baby boy is five!” I grabbed Samson to my chest in a fierce, emotional hug. Dave grabbed the lighter and laughed, “Leah! We’ve been parents FIVE YEARS.”
Then, in a delicious ordinary, extraordinary moment, we all sang. Samson beamed in his chair holding up his hand to remind us he was five the whole song. Esther sucked her little thumb in my lap. We all ate the cake and went swimming our pool afterwards.
Maybe you can do something special on your child’s birthday to “stop and smell” the gift of parenthood. It’s so easy to plow through each day when you are a tired, overwhelmed parent of young children. I know I do! Try finding things like birthdays to help pull you out of caretaker mode and into a different, fun parenting perspective.
Photo via Flickr.
Leah Spina is a former journalist of a national newsweekly turned stay-at-home mom to three children, age five and under. She lives in the Dallas area with her husband, David, and is a speaker to mom groups and conferences. Her new book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years helps parents to enjoy, not just endure, the little years by changing their parenting perspective. Visit leahspina.com to sign-up for Leah’s free weekly parenting blog and video. You can also follow her on Instagram (leahthespina) and Facebook. When Leah is not burning macaroni and cheese, she enjoys singing Italian opera, riding horses and drinking inordinate amounts of Starbucks coffee.