For my son’s first birthday party, I began planning weeks in advance. I chose decorations that were precious. I made sure the cake was delicious. I asked a friend to take pictures because I knew I’d be too busy to capture it all. I made sure to invite dear friends and family while being extra careful not to forget anyone who might feel sad to miss this momentous occasion.
The big day arrived. My son turned one and I began a to-do list one mile long to prepare for this big party! It was truly a wonderful time. We were surrounded by loved ones and my little guy smiled so big when he finally had his chance to tear into that cake!
At the end of the day, after the guests went home and the kitchen was clean, I sat in my living room under this giant Happy Birthday banner and just cried. I was admittedly exhausted and a realization came over me that… ”I had done this…I had made it to the one year mark.” He was no longer a little baby, and despite all of my worry, fear, and hesitation, things turned out alright.
I started thinking recently about birthdays and all that we, as Mamas, put into these special days for our children. Birthdays are special and it’s certainly a time to make your child feel just how precious they are on that day. But what if we added a new little twist to those days? Those birthdays for us. For you. For Mama.
I want you to think back with me. Think back to the day you first held your little loves for the first time. We stared into the eyes of these tiny faces and promised to love them and care for them always, while in the back of our mind thinking, “How do I do this?” Think back to those long nights you paced the floor watching the sun come up and thinking, “How can I keep doing this?” Think back to the first fever, upset tummy and trips to the doctor and thinking, “Am I doing this right?”
Can I tell you something? Lean in a little closer and listen when I say, “Mama, you DID do this!” Your children are celebrating birthdays this year and you need to take just a moment to say, “Happy Birthday to me!” You pushed past fear and worry in times you didn’t know what to do. You washed bottles and sippy cups on the daily like a pro. You changed diapers at the ball field, in a parking lot and the zoo. You have figured out how to coordinate dinner, homework, practice and a decent bedtime. You had a conversation with your teenager that you thought might never happen. This year–you did it. You did amazing things and helped your children reach another milestone…another birthday.
Can we make each other a little promise and help others avoid tears under the birthday banner this year? Let’s promise to take a little time to give back to ourselves for all we’ve given to our children this year. Here are just a few ideas.
Pamper yourself. Before the big party, get a pedicure or take it to the next level with a fresh cut and color!
Choose something small you love. You know that pretty serving bowl you spied at the store, but feel it’s frivolous? Splurge just little and enjoy something special to display with all those guests coming over.
Sit down and make a list. List all of the things you are proud of that you accomplished with your children this year! List everything from the baby sleeping through the night to the teenager rolling her eyes a little less.
Read a book. Birthdays are a milestone occasion and a good time to find a great read for fresh inspiration. Parenting is not for the faint of heart, but thankfully there are LOTS of us in the same boat and many writing about it.
Take a picture. There will be so many pictures of your child on this special day. Please take time to snap one of you with your birthday baby. Over the years, these will become a treasured collection.
So before you sit down to start that list for the party, draw a star at the very top. Next to that star, write what you will do FOR YOU. Because Mama, it’s your special day, too.
Betsy Eggart is mama to two, Jackson (8) and Emma (1). She and her husband, Billy, both grew up in Pensacola and love calling this city home. Betsy teaches first grade at R.C. Lipscomb Elementary and holds a Master’s degree in Reading Education. She enjoys writing in a down to earth style that resonates with parents and teachers alike. You can read more at betsyeggart.com