Not long after Gracie left for college and my grief was still quite palpable, I happened to be playing tennis at one of my friends’ neighborhood courts, when a child’s birthday party started taking shape at the community pool next to us. Out came the balloons, the piñata, the cake etc.. Then the squeals of tiny party-goers, as they arrived, joyfully anticipating the festivities. So intensely focused on my tennis game (the tennis coma) I didn’t realize until I drove home that this birthday fete had traumatized me.
By the time I got home I had worked myself into an emotional tizzy, Weeping and sniffling. Jimmy was instantly concerned and wanted to know if something ACTUALLY bad had ACTUALLY happened- like a wrecked car or a speeding ticket…. When I told him about the party and how it made me feel like I should still be stabbing Capri suns open with that sharp little straw or blowing up a pair of floaties, he was visibly relieved and suggested we, “go make some margaritas and sit by our pool (where there’s no screaming children) and talk about how life has passed us by”.
Not cheered in the least by his response, I decided to call my friend Kathleen…. We have been friends for about 11 years, so, admittedly, she didn’t know me “back in the day” when I was at the top of my game, raising my first batch of kids. Our friendship was fomented by the friendship of our youngest children – Which explains how she reacted when I told her how seeing this dear little party made me melancholy, longing for the days when tommy and Michael were little boys….
“I don’t know about that!” , she said, “The last joint birthday party you and I threw was at my neighborhood pool and, after you plopped 10 Little Caesers pizzas down on the picnic table, you got on your cell phone and didn’t surface til the party was over!! We had kids drowning, fighting and trying to kill each other and you were pretty damn oblivious!!”
Man, harsh… So maybe I’m romanticizing it all now that its over, but there was a time when I was Queen of Children’s Birthday Parties – making the invitations by hand (store-bought? Not for my princess!) and painstakingly copying cakes I saw in magazines (inspiration before Pinterest)
So, I worked the math and realized that I’ve thrown over 100 birthday celebrations for 5 kids in 28 years. Alas, those days are gone, and apparently have been gone for longer than I realized. Somewhere along the way I went from “all over it” to just “over it” and never even noticed. But in my defense, kathleen had that party under control, as evidenced by the fact that not one single guest drowned, and those pizzas were so easy and affordable!!