There is one rule that I have discovered in parenting that seems to trump all other logistics, hopes and ideas – NOTHING goes to plan. Ever.
I had planned every detail of Bella’s birthday, from the time she woke up right through to bed time. It was a big day for her as she was giving away all of her dummies and bottles, so I had researched how to make the transition easier on her and how to distract her from the big step she was taking. Plus I wanted to fit in as much little-girl-spoiling as I possibly could into one day!
On Sunday night Baby-Daddy and I blew up pink balloons, wrapped all of her presents and went through our *read my* plan for the day. I went to bed as excited as I’m sure Bella was feeling. I had planned to wake up at 5:30am, before Bella, to get her first surprise ready in my room. But at 4am, she woke up and wanted to cuddle with me in my bed. Problem # 1 – how was I supposed to get her surprise ready with her in my bed? So at 5:30am, I crawled out of bed, in silence, and decided to set up her surprise in the lounge. Problem # 2 – we had no electricity. So not only did I have to creep around trying not to wake the child in my room, but I had to do it in the dark.
I silently covered my bedroom in pink balloons, set up all the presents on my bed around my sleeping little girl, and fumbled around the kitchen trying to light three candles on a cupcake. Mission accomplished. I woke her up by singing Happy Birthday, and after her initial shock, she literally started bouncing on my bed laughing. Best. Moment. Ever.
We sat and drank tea in mugs (first morning without a bottle and she didn’t even ask about it) and ate pink cupcakes in bed. She got to open two presents – a new party dress and sparkly pink shoes. She was ecstatic! We rushed off to crèche, all ready for her school birthday-ring and party. Problem # 3 – as we walked into school, she vomited everywhere. All over her new party dress, all over her new shoes. Everywhere. We rushed her inside to change her, only to find out the school had been struck down by a nasty tummy-bug. Oh great! Birthdays and diarrhoea aren’t exactly the nicest combination!
We stayed at crèche just long enough to sing Happy Birthday and have cupcakes with her friends. Despite her sore tummy, she was the most excited little girl on Earth and just could not stop smiling. We had to take her straight to the chemist to get meds, and for Baby-Daddy and I to get Vitamin-B injections in the hope that we didn’t also catch the bug. Not the best morning.
Then I had to rush off to school for a few hours. When I got home, Bella had finally fallen asleep, two hours after her usual nap-time. Problem # 4 – a sick toddler without her dummy for the first time doesn’t sleep for long. She was soon up and screaming, over-tired and not understanding where her dummy was. It was heart-breaking. We tried to console her for a while, and eventually decided to just give in and forgo the nap. We let her open a few more presents and asked her what she would like to do for her birthday. She decided on painting, so off we went.
We spent the rest of the day at an art centre painting and making crafts. And drinking coffee. My 4am start had caught up with me and I was exhausted. But at least Bella was her usual happy self! Problem # 5 – my plan had included Spur so I had no dinner for us at home. So we decided to try stick to at least one part of my plan, nervous of whether or not she could eat anything, but by this stage of the day, Mommy and Daddy at least needed some wine. Spur was a massive hit – between trampolines and face painting and having Happy Birthday sung to her by all the waiters, we had one very happy little girl!
We got home too late and exhausted to care much about discussing her lack of evening bottle routine with the birthday girl, which completely went against how I saw the evening going down. Problem # 6 – my lengthily chat over chocolate milk in cups was trumped by everyone’s need for sleep. After going over her day with her Daddy (a little ritual they’ve started doing, which to any onlooker is the cutest conversation ever!) she fell right asleep. And didn’t wake up till the following morning, which is not how I expected her first dummy-free night to go, but this change in plan was not a problem. In fact it was bliss!
Obstacles are always going to be a part of parenting, if not the very base of the whole experience. But it is how we deal with them that matters. Did Bella’s birthday go according to plan? Not really. Did she feel like the most special little girl in the world? I think so. And that is all that matters!