On Friday night, we tucked our girl into bed. And then we snuck downstairs to surround ourselves in purple and pink, ribbon and balloons, tissue paper and frosting.
I blew up no fewer than 24 balloons and watched as M attached each one to the ceiling with a pink ribbon. My iPad is still sticky as I type on it now, having guided me through the creation and decoration of 30 chocolate-purple cupcakes.
Birthday banners were fastened. Playlists of her favorite songs were settled into party-making order. Purple table cloths were spread over countless surfaces throughout our home.
The next morning, I couldn’t wait for her to wake up. Like a kid at Christmas, I rushed up the stairs when I first heard her stir.
“Do you know what today is?”
A smile spread across her little face.
“Is it the weekend?”
“It is! But do you know what else?”
Still smiling, she shook her head.
“Today is your birthday party!”
And with that, she was out of bed faster than I’ve ever seen her move.
The 12 hours that followed were magical. Watching her take in the balloons and banners. Feeling her joy as most of her favorites walked through the door. Each time a beautifully wrapped gift was placed in her hands, her eyes widened and her smile grew.
The beautiful innocence of a little girl who does not yet associate birthdays with presents, and had, all along, only been looking forward to seeing her favorite people and hearing them sing happy birthday to her, it is a priceless thing.
For four hours that afternoon, our house was full. Kids running and shouting and laughing and playing. Adults from all of the different parts of our lives, mingling and chatting. Balloons flying in all directions. The hours of preparation had left every muscle in my pregnant body in awful pain but I couldn’t just sit myself down. I walked circles around the house, dropping in on conversations and just enjoying all of the people who had come to celebrate my girl.
Some thought I was crazy to plan such a party this year. 9 months pregnant and I invited dozens of people to my house on a Saturday afternoon. And I’ll be honest, by 8pm on Friday night, I was starting to feel as if maybe I had overdone it a bit.
But Saturday, we created true birthday memories. Our girl will remember this birthday. She will remember the friends and the family and the balloons. She will remember the excitement. She will know that birthdays are special and deserve celebration. And, I hope, three weeks from now when our world changes and, for a time, we can’t give her the same attention that we do now, she will return to these memories.
Saturday night, sleep came as soon as each head met its pillow. I do believe we set the world record for the fastest a 3-year old has ever fallen asleep. Before she drifted off, she asked that we keep her birthday up. I understood. She wanted the magic to last. And so we did. The balloons still hang above our heads and the banners still wish her a happy birthday every time she walks into the room. We’ll probably leave them up for a few more days. Until she is officially 3. This kind of celebration just can’t be contained.