By: Carey Snide
Birthday parties are a big deal to me. It stems from when I was a kid; I think it may have been my 6th or 7th birthday where I remember my dad baking for hours to put on a tea party birthday party for me. He must have made four or five different kinds of cookies, set the coffee table with little kid chairs and a tablecloth, everything was perfect…until one kid decided to dump all my cookies on the floor and stomp on them. My dad remembers that party as the one a kid ruined. I remember that too but what I really remember the most is how much my dad must have loved me to spend all that time baking. I stood in the doorway watching him make cookies for me, I knew he loved me more than anything.
I have always tried to do that for my boys. We have always done these big parties (which isn’t hard when your immediate family is around 40!), with games, cake, and lots of food. I was doing Pinterst parties before Pinterst was a thing. We never had a lot of money but I always saved to throw these parties because I wanted to celebrate my boys, I wanted them to know how loved they were. I know parties are not a big deal to a lot of people and I don’t want any mom out there to think she is less than if she doesn’t create a pirate ship cake or a My Little Pony seven layer rainbow cake, this has just been my way of celebrating.
But Covid has really messed with our norm. We haven’t been able to gather like before and this year my boys are turning 16 and 18, I’m not going to lie, I’m worried. Will I be able to celebrate these milestone birthdays the way I want? But then again, there is something amazing about how we have learned, these last few years, how to hold to the spirit of the celebration without the bigness of it. I have had to step back and think, who am I doing this for and why?
I may have been doing the big party for them but it was also for myself. I was celebrating that I am a mom. These parties, though fun, really boil down to my boys knowing that they are valued. I tell them that everyday. I don’t need a gathering of 40+ people, once a year, to do that. I need to be showing them every chance I get with them. Yes, celebrating with a party is fun, but celebrating does not need to be confined to one day or one moment.
I celebrate my boys, show them they have value whenever I hug them, whenever I tell them I love them, whenever I put down my phone and spend time looking them in the eye and listening to them tell me the ridiculous and the important stories, when we snuggle (they still snuggle) and watch a Marvel movie, and when I cheer for them when they accomplish something. Covid is not ruining milestones, it is forcing me to rethink what they mean and how to celebrate them. Covid can’t take away our love for each other, it can just change some of our plans. I do look forward to when we can gather “normally” again but I don’t need to lament the loss of me expressing my love.
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