Monday, November 21, 2005

What did I ever do before my son was born? I've never had so much joy, laughter, fun, pain, fear, anxiety, as I have since he came along.

Some would ask whether I count the good as outweighing the bad, and after some thought, I would have to reply by saying that the bad is actually part of the good. It may sound weird, but this fear and anxiety that I feel daily as it applies to child rearing, is a good thing (although it may not seem like it at the time). When I worry about Derek and about how I'm doing in my job as a mother to him, I think that this process in itself is making me a better mother. For me to be aware of the mistakes I am making, or wondering and dreaming about his future, means that I am constantly challenging myself to "step up to the plate", and do the very best I can for him.

We had Derek's 3rd birthday party this weekend. Before I go into detail about this completely chaotic experience, let me give some background about past birthday celebrations. When Derek turned 1 year old, and again for his second birthday, we had everyone, friends and family alike, at our home in the basement (it's November, not a sunny warm June, remember). There was no room to breathe, and don't get me wrong, I actually think our basement is pretty large, and accomodating for such events, but even so...Oh my God. I chopped, minced, cooked, baked, and otherwise wore myself out in the kitchen for two weeks before said events, to make sure that I could sufficiently stuff my family full of yummy goodies.

The parties themselves were successful, as everyone expressed their satisfaction with food and entertainment (the kids got glitter glue all over my carpet, that still hasn't come out), and afterwards, I felt like a spent party balloon, my energy simply deflating with a long hiss.

This year was different. I told myself months ago that I wasn't going to wear myself out like that again. I have too many other things to do during November and December, right up until my husband's birthday arrives in early January, to get worn out so early in the game.

We booked a party room at the local indoor jungle gym. For those who will understand, it's like an enormous McDonald's Playland, with the added bonus of extremely expensive and violent arcade games (for our 3rd birthday party, we pretty much skipped the arcade portion of the event).

I was given the option by the convenors, to either have lunch served first, or after the kids have had a chance to run wild within the playground...uh, can you say "stupid question". I of course chose to let the kids eat first. That way I could avoid the obvious problems associated with trying to get ten children back into the lunch room, when they all want to keep playing (hopefully, until either the world ends, or they fall to the ground, from complete exhaustion). It was a good choice. Even before the cardboardy-tasting pizza arrived, the kids were itching to jump into the ball pit, swing from the hanging nets, and slide vicariously down the closed tube slide.

The best thing was, as I watched my son and his little friends enjoying themselves more than any little kid on Christmas morning, I felt no anxiety, and no pressure, but instead a great and vast relief that I did not have to stress over the planning for weeks ahead of time, nor clean up afterward. I wasn't even tired, beyond the minor aches associated with a grown adult crawling through three levels of kid-climbers, to rescue the odd child that can't seem to find his way back down.

It was a blast, but I'll not be doing it again soon. The amount of money spent on this one party was more than enough to last for another three or four years. Derek will just have to live with his memories next year, and the next year, and...