I reached for the cupcakes at Whole Foods this morning - vanilla, Lyle's favorite, with coconut sprinkled generously across the top - and paused, thinking to myself, It's his half-birthday, you dork. He doesn't need cupcakes! This is a fake occasion, right up there with celebrating the 100th day of school! Just tell him he's three and a half and move on!
And then I reached for the cupcakes and determinedly placed them in my shopping cart, sending a text message to the babysitter: "Tell Lyle it's his half birthday and we'll celebrate tonight!"
At the dinner table, he could barely contain himself. He stood on his chair because from that vantage point he was able to take in the glorious dinner I'd given him (Trader Joe's 3-cheese pizza, chopped pineapples, and veggie chips - his favorites!) and the cupcakes back on the kitchen counter. "This is gonna be quite a party!" he crowed.
On a whim I set the iPod to Lyle's 3rd Birthday Mix, a selection I put together for his birthday last August, and while we ate we jammed to some of his faves, such as a couple of hits from Mary Poppins, Justin Roberts, Dan Zanes, and the local Wiggleworms music class CD.
After our fantabulous dinner and cupcakes, I declared it Dance Party Time. The three of us were on fire, I tell you, on fire. Lyle danced in circles around us, yelling, "I'm having a great time with you guys!" over and over. (He later took me by the hand and declared solemnly, "You are my best friend.")
Suddenly, Dan Zanes' Wonderwheel came on and there I was, dancing with my little guys in my kitchen on Lyle's half birthday, thinking about how blessed I am to have this family and house and a husband on his way back from a business trip and this blog and all of you friends out there from all over the world to share the highs and lows of my life with, and I was just overcome with gratitude. Truth be told, today I am exhausted, sick, and in possession of a work to do list with 21 undone items remaining, but all of that vanished in one big happy moment and has left me glowing all evening.
Just like us, our children are facing lots of challenges and have hard times ahead of them. No matter who they are or how they came into this world, no matter how well cared for, fed, educated, and played with, nothing is guaranteed for any of us. Nothing.
So, by god, if we've got a chance to eat cupcakes and dance like crazy people and celebrate "fake" occasions together, let's do it. Because it is what will get them - and us - through the harder moments in life.