Last year, as Memorial Day approached, my daughter started to ask questions.
“Why don’t I have school on Monday?”
Well, it’s Memorial Day.
“What’s Memorial Day?”
It’s a holiday…
“A holiday? Are we going?”
Are we going – as in are we going to the party. Because holidays involve parties. In her three and a half short years, she had learned, because I had taught her, that holidays involve parties. And any day can involve a celebration. And every day is a little something special.
The problem was, last year, we weren’t ‘going.’ There were no Memorial Day parties or barbecues planned, or, at least, none that we had been invited to.
So, we made a party. I bought red and white and blue balloons and she helped me blow them up and hang them in bunches from our playroom ceiling. I bought red, white, and blue glow bracelets and she shook them to light them up and then wore them all day before hanging them in her room that night. And we ate dinner, and dessert, outside on our deck (a rare thing for us). It was just the four of us, but it was a party.
And I didn’t open Pinterest to make it happen. And I didn’t feel pressure to make Memorial Day magical. I didn’t do it because every other mother out there with the propensity to share her life on social media guilted me into doing it.
I did it because I love magic and celebration and parties and decorations just as much as my daughter (some days, more).
And was it unicorns dancing on rainbows magical? Probably not. If you asked her about that particular weekend today, my daughter might not even remember the specifics. But that impromptu party, along with milkshakes on the first day of spring and a pet store scavenger hunt on an otherwise boring Wednesday and pizza every Friday night to celebrate the weekend and, yes, the occasional Pinterest inspired craft or party, all of these together infuse our lives with magic and celebration. And more than anything, I want my children to believe in magic and celebration and hold tightly to it. I want them to believe deep in their souls, because this is how they’ve lived all their lives, that life is meant to be celebrated. And every day is magical. Even the bad ones.
The idea of making childhood magic as a response to pressure or as an elaborate, expensive, planned to the very last detail kind of thing makes me sad. The idea that magic is only infused with the help of Pottery Barn and Disney and Elves on shelves and Pinterest inspired, expensive parties makes me want to scream.
Because it doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be that way. And honestly, anytime you make a parenting move in response to external pressures, you’re making the wrong move. Magic or no magic.
Yes, childhood is inherently magical. But we, as parents, should inherently be part of that.
I, too, have childhood memories of playing with my siblings and friends that feel quite magical. Nights spent running around in my backyard catching fireflies. Skipping rocks at the creek behind my friends’ house. Building tremendous snow forts without an adult in sight. But the times when my uncle got in the pool with us in the summer to toss us around and really get Marco Polo going, or when my mother let us help decorate the Christmas cookies, or when they planned extra little surprises on my birthday or went the extra mile to really sell the magic of the Easter bunny to me? Those moments are why I can, today, find beauty in the mundane.
Let’s definitely not put on a show for our kids, letting them sit passively as we dazzle and delight them with glitter and sparkles. But yes, let’s play a role in the magic. Let’s take their lead and run with them. Let’s share the magic they feel when they pick up rocks and save them in their pockets or experience the feeling of playing in the snow. Let’s live the magic with them.
Let’s believe in magic and make magic, every day. And, who knows, maybe we’ll make a few magical adulthoods in the process.
pour your heart out