So it’s been weeks since I’ve posted anything here, and I apologize.
I’d like to blame it on my studies or my internship or some sort of minor yet still serious illness or the Greek economic crisis, but alas. I can only blame it on this:
And since I am currently learning the ways of behavioral therapy, I will tell you that these are not merely symbols of fantastic birthday celebrations. Nay, these are signs of my overcompensation.
I’ve been down this road before, my friends.
Many, many moons ago, I was a frenetically working young mother of two. My job often required long hours and, occasionally, travel. My supportive spouse traveled, but not as much as he does these days. And he picked up a lot of my slack, cooking dinner, getting the kiddos from daycare, folding laundry.
I was still a reporter chasing big stories, and my days never were predictable. So the hubs was there when I wasn’t.
But on the days I was around, hoo boy. I was uber mom, psycho holiday decorator, party planner extraordinaire.
I don’t mean to brag, but my birthday parties were legendary. And that’s not because I rented a moon walk or a clown or a magician. That’s amateur stuff.
There was no way I was subletting my parental duties to anyone else to ensure my kids had the best birthdays ever, so I did everything myself. If there was a clown making balloon animals, buddy, then that was either me, my husband or some gullible relative of ours wearing the red nose.
Take Joe’s fourth birthday party. He loved pirates back then. L-O-V-E-D them. Way before Jack Sparrow arrived on the scene, Joe was sporting eye patches and turning sticks into hooks. So, as a faithful reader of every parenting magazine under the sun, I decided to throw the biggest and best pirate bash EVAH.
U.S.Toy has an insane amount of pirate decorations, by the way. And you also can order just about anything pirate-themed from Party Express.
And did you know you can make hand hooks out of two-liter plastic bottles and plastic hangers? I hoarded those items for weeks to make enough so the 20 or so kids we invited could take them home as party favors.
We gave every kid a pirate tattoo (temporary, of course,) and hung a piñata from the swing set. We commissioned my husband’s Uncle Pat, an architect, to be in charge of the balloon swords, a job he took to heart.
The only glitch: The cake. I had attempted to draw freehand a Jolly Roger. Big mistake. I should have sculpted something out of fondant.
Maggie’s party that year featured butterflies, her favorite bug at the time. Everyone got gossamer wings, and I made the most beautiful cake with a pastoral butterfly scene on it.
The next year, we threw Joe a cowboy-themed party at a cousin’s rural house and hosted a chuck wagon dinner (all homemade, of course.) That year Maggie had a princess dress-up party, with dress-up clothes supplied by yours truly and a cake that looked like a pink castle (also made by yours truly.)
Then I quit my job in 2001, and the birthday parties became less elaborate. Oh sure, my cakes improved, but I acquiesced to outside venues for the actual parties. I justified that because I spent almost every waking hour with the kids. I needed a break, you know?
Well, this year things have changed. I’m gone all day three days a week, either at my 16-hour-a-week internship (for credit hours) or at the university, taking back-to-back classes. The laundry is piling up. The old dogs have developed bladder infections because I’m not there to let them out as much. I’ve missed a few field trips. I still haven’t made relish out of the pounds and pounds of zucchini I chopped up and froze in July.
But the crazy birthday overcompensating is back. Hence the Perry the Platypus cake, the soccer ball cake, the cake pops.
I just can’t stop myself.
It’s funny, because the youngest kiddo wasn’t even around in the days when I made homemade yogurt pops to have on hand and handmade Christmas presents for my kids and my nieces and nephews. He’s never really seen this side of me.
But a month or so ago, when trailers for “I Don’t Know How She Does It” were all over the TV, Tom watched one and then looked at me.
“The lady in that movie could be you, Mom,” he said.
And he wasn’t telling me I look like Sarah Jessica Parker, either.