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.