It was a dilemma. Should I? Shouldn’t I? It would be a lot of work for someone who would have zero memory of it, but I had done it for my son.
I would. I had to.
I didn’t want to hear twelve years from now, “BUT MOOOOM! You didn’t throw me a party!”
So it was planned: The Lil’ Diva’s First Birthday Party. There would be grilling of food, cakes with frosting, Mimi, friends, and probably a few presents. It would be a casual affair at our house.
Then a week before the party, I started panicking. My house was the perfect example of True Cluttered Chaos, as I never have the time to put away everything that collects in the Areas Diva Can’t Reach. And worse, I was too exhausted to clean it, thanks to The Cough That Would Not Go Away. Even with Mimi’s help, there was no way it would be Party Ready.
And if a miracle did happen, the rare sparkling clean would be transformed into disaster as soon as we had cake.
But then something very unexpected happened.
The weather forecast.
Gone was the hot 100 degree sticky weather of summer. It was supposed to be nice on the day of the party.
I quickly contacted the company that dealt with renting pavilions at the park two blocks away – where we had held The Tackler’s First Birthday Party. It was the perfect place to have a gathering where over half the attendees would be children.
They had an opening.
And with that, three days prior to the party, I moved the location from my house to the park.
And a weight lifted off my shoulders.
Until our 30% chance of rain for those three days translated into an 100% reality. And the day of the party also had that same rain chance.
What if the weather interfered and I had to have it at the House of Chaos, only this time there would be ZERO chance of having it clean because The Party Is NOT Supposed to Be Here?!?
The already exhausted part of me wanted to cancel the whole party. All I wanted to do was sleep.
The Mommy Part yelled at the Exhausted Part to suck it up because not only would my daughter never let me live it down, but I’d feel guilty for being unequal with the kids.
We didn’t cancel.
The weather threatened rain early in the day, but held back.
My day unfolded in the following fashion…
Countdown to Lil’ Diva’s First Birthday Party
T minus 6 hours to party: The Tackler had swim lessons in the morning, followed by pool time. This was key. Pool time for Tackler = 99% Chance of Nap. It just meant I wouldn’t be around to do party prep. Mimi and Computer God would handle that and take care of the birthday girl while I did the pool stuff with Tackler.
Sounded great, right?
T minus three hours to party: Only no one truly understood how I wanted things organized, what I wanted done, and what I envisioned the end product would be. Because I am The Planner. So little was actually completed except an over tired birthday girl whose too short morning nap meant she fought her afternoon one.
This did not bode well.
T minus two hours to party: CG gets Tackler down for nap, but took forever (in my already stressed out opinion) to do so. I needed him to already be running errands to pick up the cakes, ice, and balloons. I quickly sent him away to do those things.
The birthday girl spent the next hour fighting to stay awake while she whined and rubbed her sleepy eyes while I tried 101 Things To Make Her Fall Asleep. With no success.
T minus 90 minutes to party: The Birthday Diva finally went down.
This could be very bad. A too short nap was sometimes worse than no nap at all…
T minus 60 minutes to party: CG finally returned with The Stuff, as I loaded up the coolers and the van to go set up at the park.
T minus 45 minutes to party: Bobbi showed up to help and I loaded more stuff in her car and we headed off.
T minus 15 minutes to party: The cars are fully unloaded. I left Bobbi to decorate and darted home to change into clothing that lacked baby spit up for the party. And to brush my hair.
T minus 5 minutes to party: I sprinted out of the house with a wave to CG and instructed him to start waking up the kids and Mimi and walk over to the park. I had to finish setting up with Bobbi and be there to great the early arrivals.
Zero hour: Five o’ clock chimed and my friend Kathryn arrived promptly with husband D and kids A,B,C, & D (still need to know how she manages that with four kids). No sign of the guest of honor or CG yet.
Plus 5 minutes: Kathryn’s husband offered aid if required. I asked if he knew how to start a charcoal grill as CG was not here yet and he said yes. The poor guy went to work while I wondered how much longer CG would take.
Plus 10 minutes: I gave in and called CG.
“I’m on my way.
Plus 13 minutes: CG showed up with the kiddos. Diva was ecstatic to be outside and The Tackler was thrilled to see his friends – potential crankiness of having naps disrupted was negated by the excitement!
“So where’s my mom?” I asked CG.
He gave me an odd look. “She’s still sleeping.”
I resisted the urge to smack him upside the head. “You didn’t wake her up?”
“I thought you said to leave her alone so she could rest.”
I held back the second urge to smack him upside the head. “Yes, I did. Two hours ago. Do you really think my mother flew 930 miles to miss her grand daughter’s birthday party???”
Understanding finally dawned on CG’s face as the epiphany of how asinine it was to let my mother continue sleeping hit him (I swear, he’s very smart, but I think he must suffer from a version of Daddy Brain). “Yeah. I see your point.”
I called my mother. She didn’t answer her phone.
I staved off melting down purely because the party was a one minute drive from my house.
I couldn’t let her sleep through the party.
Plus 17 minutes: I left CG in charge as host and ran to the car to drive the two blocks home to wake up The Sleeping Mimi.
Plus 19 minutes: I arrived at the house and discovered Mimi was up and moving thanks to my phone call. She quickly fixed her 80’s rock bed head and we zipped back to the party.
Plus 24 minutes: Finally, all members of my family were present and accounted for at the party. The Grill was fired up, and CG took over. I stopped watching the time as we moved into Full Party Mode.
This was when the stress of party planning finally floated away. I could finally be in the moment and just enjoy talking with my friends while simultaneously vigilantly watching the birthday girl in case she attempted to eat the acorns that littered the ground.
My dear friend Bobbi circulated around the party (now that decorating duties were done) and became Birthday Diva’s personal paparazzi. I attempted to get a few photos as well to nurture my new interest in photography – the lighting was perfect.
Once the main dinner round was finished, we moved on to presents: The Diva’s first true experience with them. Her brother felt duty bound to show her a few tricks of the trade.
Lil Diva was very confused. For months she had been scolded and told “NO!” whenever she managed to get her hands on paper: the sweet delights of being able to shred it into tiny little bits or eat it.
Or both. And now, suddenly, it was not only okay but encouraged?
It was like swallowing The Red Pill and falling down the rabbit hole. It blew her mind.
She quickly adapted to this new and strange world where ripping paper was voraciously cheered. She immediately became enraptured with the tissue paper and would have happily torn and tossed it around for the foreseeable future. At this point, the gifts were secondary.
I blame this on the concept of “presents” which a one year old is too young to understand. To them, The Entire Present is the gift, not just what is inside. Lil’ Diva would have been more than happy to slowly take her time and open gifts over a three to four hour period, so that each inch of tissue and wrapping paper could be properly demolished.
Alas, it would be dark before then and bedtime. So Big Brother stepped in to offer some more aid – when he wasn’t having a giggle party with The Girls.
After the last item was unwrapped we moved on to The Cakes.
That is right. CAKES. Lil’ Diva had her own eight inch round cake, thanks to the grocery store’s special: buy 1/4 or more of sheet cake, get the baby cake FREE.
I never turn down free cake.
For The Tackler’s first birthday, he only had a cupcake. Which was fine. Because he HATED to have his hands dirty and got very upset having frosting on his fingers.
Lil’ Diva, however, will purposefully spit up so that she can finger paint in it while my focus is elsewhere. I had high hopes that she would do this cake justice.
She did not disappoint.
Far from it.
With a quick disbelieving look – that her parents were crazy enough to leave something in front of her to make a mess – she dug in. Once she had a taste of the frosting, her pace quickened.
She did an excellent job all by herself. Not only that, but she was kind enough to leave one side untouched, so I could eat it later (and I did… I admit it… I’m a sucker for whipped frosting).
She kept going until frosting covered her face, most of her front, and her entire hands and arms. Then she got cranky.
Daddy cleaned her up while I handed out gift bags and began to pick up.
As I was doing so, CG returned with a much cleaner Diva. As he attempted to eat his cake, she insisted that he share (as communicated by dive bombing his fork and insistent grunts and moans accompanied by the Don’t You Love Me Daddy eyes).
Evidently, she had only reached her mess threshold, not her cake one.
Either that or she now preferred chocolate over white cake (at another birthday party two weeks prior, she had been scared of chocolate cake, which is why I went with white – plus white is my favorite cake, unless my mom makes chocolate). I’m not sure how much of his cake she devoured.
No wonder she was wired for a while.
After packing up (thank you friends for helping with tear down) and leaving the park at the last moment (it closed at dark) we returned home with both kids high on sugar. And happy from all the outside time.
It was a good night.
Made better by Mimi (and Tackler) preparing Mimi’s Famous Sticky Rolls.
Because if you’re going to go for sugar overload, you really need some the next morning too.
Although that night didn’t go so well…. as written about here.
So in spite of the stress, The Cough, wanting to cancel, and my mother nearly missing the entire thing, the Lil’ Diva’s First Birthday Party was a raging success.
And it only took me a month to finish the blog on it (I honestly did start it a month ago).
Bobbi also wrote about Lil’ Diva turning one, and she captured my feelings so well (the disbelief that a year has passed) that I couldn’t “copy” it for my blog. So be sure to read hers as well.