The Second (Chance) Birthday


After the months of planning, coordination, excessive expenditure and precision timing that went into my son’s 1st birthday (it had felt like I’d organized my wedding, again!), I’ll be honest, I was looking for an easy win for his 2nd year. Working full time, I just didn’t have the capacity to create another masterpiece, I was happy with something fun and easy.

I leaned heavily on the convenient factoid, “well toddlers don’t really remember anything until they’re 3 anyway” and decided that a quiet family celebration with a cake, and a suitable amount of champagne would suffice!

However, four days before the party/gathering/champagne brunch for mummy, Jack and I ran into his play-date friend, Alex at the doctor’s. Alex was too ill to go out for an impromptu play and Jack became really distressed. At the back of my mind, an uncomfortable/queasy feeling began. Later, thinking about how upset Jack had become that his pal couldn’t come out to play, I realized that that nasty, unsettling feeling I’d been having all day was actually guilt. Guilt that I hadn’t invited Alex, or any of his other friends to his party, that I hadn’t used this golden opportunity for him to have a wonderful day with his new-found friends, whether he remembered the day or not!

Fueled by remorse and shame, I hurriedly started to put together a plan to save my baby boy’s 2nd birthday, I had just enough time to make it right….

I placed a lot of calls very quickly, invited his friends and parents, invited some of my friends and once I had critical mass started calling caterers and places for party decorations.

The caterers I went with offered a selection of brunch-friendly mini bagels and charged maxi dollars. Cost at this point was not my decision driver. I had a mother’s guilt that needed to be purged, and the quickest, most painless way to exorcise this demon was through procurement.

I was also extravagant with the decorations, to the point of recklessness. A flotilla of helium balloons at $60 a-pop (literally!) and the cake, which came in a box with an ingredients card. I couldn’t help but feel the card was no allergy alerting device, but more a means for the bakery to flaunt just how much margin they could make from basic ingredients!

Anyway, it worked, by the time the caterers delivered there miniature offerings, and the zeppelin sized balloons began to make their ascent to the ceiling, and the guests began to arrive in their droves and Jack started to scream with glee, the last of that guilt-ridden feeling had gone. The look of delight on his face, as he comprehended we were singing for him, that this was all for him, was priceless, and I realized that it didn’t matter whether he would remember this or not, I was just thankful I got the chance to give him this day.


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