I wasn’t prepared for my little boy’s birthday yesterday.
He turned four years old, and I felt guilty for not having a party prepared. We were out-of-town at church camp last week, so right now my laundry
pile mountain is huge, our sleep deficit is huge, my “to do” list is huge.
We’ve been so busy that I forgot to order a new ice cream maker (my boys are sensitive to dairy products, so “regular” ice cream is on the no-no list).
If running out of ice cream wasn’t bad enough, I also ran out of candles.
I was thinking his birthday fell on Tuesday this year, so I hadn’t bought his big birthday present yet.
I forgot to grind fresh gluten-free flour, so it took me twice as long to make his cake.
I also forgot to buy those cute little “Thomas the Tank” birthday plates that I meant to have on hand.
I wasn’t prepared for a birthday.
So I just leaned into the day and decided to enjoy it. To enjoy him.
Birthdays are about celebrating, not conquering “to do” lists, right? I always seem to forget that.
On his way home from men’s prayer meeting yesterday morning, Jeremy picked up chocolate gluten-free donuts (Mr. C’s requested birthday breakfast). We had donuts and water for breakfast (I also forgot to buy orange juice). No one seemed to mind the water.
Mr. C opened his gifts after breakfast. He didn’t seem to care a lick that I’d just been upstairs wrapping them five minutes before he ripped the paper off.
After breakfast, we shut the door on a cluttered house, piles of laundry, and that nagging “to do” list, and spent a beautiful summer morning at a park.
My four big kids rode their scooters while little Baby C toddled along behind, intrigued at every squirrel and bird that scampered through the bower of pecan trees.
As I walked and watched, I felt the stresses of a busy life just sort of melt away.
This is the way every day should be, I thought as my heart feasted on the gifts around me.
Here, now, nothing seemed to matter other than being.
Being aware of the small things.
After a leisurely lunch at a favorite restaurant, I dropped my husband off at our church (he had his own “to do” lists to tackle for the afternoon) and drove my kids home for a nap.
“When is my next birthday?” Mr. C asked as I tucked him into my bed.
“Next year,” I whispered, hoping to not wake Baby C, who was sleeping in his crib on the other side of the room.
The look on my now-four-year-old boy’s face was hopeful, as if he didn’t quite understand how long “next year” meant.
“Can we have my birthday again tomorrow?”
“No, but we can still celebrate tomorrow.”
He grinned and popped his fingers into his mouth, a habit he’s had nearly since the day he was born.
I snuggled in bed beside him and thought about all the times I’ve been warned about his finger-sucking habit. I smiled. Right then, it didn’t really seem to matter. A lot of things didn’t really seem to matter so much.
This morning, I woke up and greeted another busy day. Another pile of laundry. Another “to do” list.
And I’m trying to carry just a little of that birthday magic with me.
Sure, I can’t spend every day walking through a park, but I can choose to stop and watch the wonders. I can catch the smiles, take the naps, embrace the moments.
Every day isn’t a birthday.
But every day is a gift.
I hope I never forget that.