Sunday, August 24, 2008

Finding Balance

Some parents lavish their children with expensive gifts, some let their children overeat, while others neglect to set boundaries, and still some parents jam pack their children's free time with soccer practices and piano lessons. Not me, I had to go and overcompensate for my inexistent childhood birthday parties by ruining my daughter's 1st birthday celebration. No matter how much perfect planning that goes into scheduling the 1st birthday party, nothing.., absolutely nothing can prepare you for instances like this one....

For me, her emotional meltdown to the "Happy Birthday" song was more than ironic, it was the defining moment of the whole party. I don't think that she enjoyed one minute of her special day. Normally she's very sensitive and doesn't adjust well to new environments. At some level, I knew that she wouldn't be receptive to the overstimulated atmosphere that I created. And those who are closest to me will tell you that I lost sight of due north. Yet, sadly, I elected to navigate the course that I had mapped out full steam ahead--afterall, money was spent, guests had arrived, agendas needed to be fulfilled, and expectations (mostly mine) had already been cemented.

In retrospect, I take full responsibility for my daughter's meltdown. I went overboard with the 3-dimensional ice-cream sundae invitations, I went overboard with the activities.., I pretty much went overboard with everything. I should have known better than to create a spectacle, thus I should have done better. At some point planning her party ceased to be about celebrating my precious little daughter's one-year milestone, and began taking on a life all its own. Now, I'm sitting here in the aftermath, wading through the pictures, the birthday cards, the gifts and moreover the outstanding realization that this birthday party was more about me than anything else.

Life is tough, and at best most of us do whatever we can to keep our heads above the water. Sometimes I'm hit unexpectedly by waves driven by my past, like matters where birthday party planning dredge up buried memories of lost dreams. I got knocked off course. I lost my balance, and struggled to find my footing. Still, I rest easy knowing that with every passing day, I become more aware of the waves. I can read the tide a little better, and hopefully I can brace myself to steer clear of shipwrecks like these.

I can't change the tsunami that rocked the birthday party in my garage this past weekend. The damage is done; memories are waterlogged. With luck Simone will probably forget this storm, and her resilience will keep her afloat. But I take courage in the fact that I'm better able to read the ebbing tides, and though I have not mastered its currents, I am finding the balance.


Robin H said...

How could you!! How sad is it that I laughed out loud at this video? It's not that I glory in your perceived parental failure but that I resonate so much with what I'm sure you were feeling. (Been there. Done that. But will likely do it again to my 18-year-old.) Thanks for sharing even the less than proud parenting moments.

Jewels said...

i love this post. Dionne you are by far one of my favorite reads. Thank you for sharing so authentically. It really helps me look at myself and see what I do to others and the expectations I have put on others that are really about me and helping me heal.

woosterweester said...

You should totally print this out and put it in your daughter's album. She is blessed to have such a mom. And as a wise mama once told me, "Ain't no shame in yo game."

Sarah said...

I TOTALLY feel you on this one, sister. Many of my older 2 kids' bdays were just as you described ... more about me than them.
But you're getting the point. You've already learned (and continue to learn), to draw wisdom from such experiences.
Your girls are SO richly blessed to have YOU for their momma. Your insight and sensitivity, grace and thought ... they already have a solid and stable and loving platform of truth and grace.
BTW, I too have a very sensitive daughter (my oldest). It's a privilege and a challenge, but I think a richness and depth uncommon.

Lyonslove said...

You are such a good mom to want to have a super special day for your girl. You never know if it's going to be a hit or a miss. You are not the only spaz mom by the way. I took a cake decorating class so that I could make Tanner's 1st birthday cake and I handmade all of the invitations. We are all just in love with these kids God has given us.


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