Birthday’s can be tricky. They’re supposed to be fun and special, but they also tend to get wrapped up in expectations. For the kids, this plays out by them having a hard time enjoying the moment—thinking about the next fun thing—or being disappointed with their presents. We, as parents, want to do what we can to encourage them to enjoy what’s happening as it happens, and have to know that no matter how hard to we try, we’ll never be able to create the perfect birthday for our kids.
I don’t think Sarah and I have any illusions that such a thing exists, and we certainly aren’t going to buy everything they ask for or do everything they want in an effort to make them happy. We do our best to strike a balance with fun time together as a family and a couple gifts we think they’ll enjoy.
I have this week off so the day was clear for Maia Birthday Fun. The day started off with a visit and presents from Grandma Jennie on her way to work, then we enjoyed a special breakfast of bacon, pancakes, fresh berries, and whipped cream. We had a fun picnic lunch at the park, running up and down hills and playing on the playground until they were ready for home. Maia went to her ballet lesson and we wrapped the day up with fried fish (by request), a video chat with Grandma Linda and Grandpa Sam (also by request), gluten-free vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, and presents. We got a toy for her, but the one gift Maia actually asked for was a locket with a picture of her and us in it. It was such an unexpected, sweet request which we were happy to fulfill. The picture has proved a little tricky to print, cut, and fit, so that part’s been delayed, but she still loved it.
Throughout the day there were certainly tears and frustration, and not just by Maia. Keana and Aliya had difficulty handling Maia’s birthday too. It’s those damn expectations (and maybe sharing the limelight). The hardest part is letting them be upset but still making corrections where necessary. I know I always worry about spoiling our kids, but I think it’s more likely that I won’t allow them to be themselves. They’re kids. Birthdays are fun (or are supposed to be). Toys are fun. Cake is good. We all want toys and we all want cake. There’s nothing wrong with wanting these things, and eventually we all learn that sometimes we get both and sometimes we don’t get any. In the end, I think Maia’s going to look back and think it was a pretty special day, and really, what else could we ask for?