This past weekend, I celebrated my 31st birthday party. No, I didn’t turn 31. (Can you hear that? It’s my friends choking on their laughter). I’m talking about the 31st party I’ve thrown for my kids. We’ve had some great ones, some rowdy ones, and some way too loud ones. And as I watched my seven-year-old regaling in the joy of sugar-induced-bonding-with-friends, I couldn’t help but think back to my very first attempt at a kid’s birthday party.
My daughter was turning four. Of course, she picked a theme that no party store stocked—it’s like they know, isn’t it?—causing me to stretch my creative genes and get to work. It was the first cake I’d ever decorated that had a cartoon character on it. The first invitation I’d ever made and printed out on my computer. The first all-out-decorating of my home in pink balloons and green streamers, and anything that remotely resembled her favorite character.
As that Saturday rolled around, I was ready. I’d been prepped for days, had the goody bags lined up in a row, and the room we would hold the party in stocked with food, drinks, and decorations galore. I even had party games planned. Awesome ones, too, because I’m the kind of mom that hunts things like that down on the internet so that my daughter’s friends will enjoy themselves. I had a plan, and I was sticking to it.
Then the little monsters arrived.
For some reason, no one would stay in the room I’d taken special care to decorate for their enjoyment. No one waited until the specified snack time to eat the goodies I’d prepared. And, most shockingly, they didn’t want to play my games. My carefully researched games.
Instead . . .
They ran around the house and yard with wild abandon like sugar-addicted savages. They ignored me as they swept by the food table grabbing snacks on the go, leaving a trail of crumbs for mice to later discover. They laughed in my face—the kind of evil laugh that makes you shudder—when I told them that goody bags were not to be opened until they got home.
It was utter chaos.
The little beasts destroyed my dreams, my home, and my sanity in a mere 90 minutes.
But, my daughter?
She was in heaven. Beaming as they discovered her favorite places in our yard. Sweetly pointing out all of the things she loved about her room. Loving her moment in the sun. Her chance to be the center of attention. Her opportunity to be a host.
I realized something that day about motherhood, that I have to say is still true at party #31:
- Nothing is even close to what you might expect.
- They greatest lessons learned are learned by me.
- Chaos can bring joy like you’ve never experienced.
- The things I’ll do to stretch myself, make me a better person for the rest of the world.
- My plans are just starting points in the adventure.
- Sometimes you have to let things go so that things go best.
- If I’d have known what life would be like with my children, I’d have done it sooner.
- It’s the simple things that matter, bring joy, and will be remembered.
- I can never say “I love you” enough.
- Until my children, I never realized how much I could love.
The best part of this realization? God feels the same way about us. Celebrates us in the same way. Loves us in the same way. In fact, the same list can be used regarding him. Try it.