The cake store

birthday bannerOver the last few weeks, I’ve been wracked with mom guilt.

Despite my total paralyzing fear of throwing a kids birthday party, I had every intention of doing just that for Thalia. It would be the first one, really, since she was a baby. The bane of a July birthday in New York is that no one is in town. But this year? Aha! We would have it at the end of June! See how smart I am?

All it would take is a little advanced planning.

Which became not so much advanced planning.

Which became, how the hell did it end up being the end of June already?

It’s true, I really can’t do it all.

We had brainstormed everything from an Alice in Wonderland tea party to a bowling party. And Thalia had the best time just imagining what kind of party she’d have and whether it would be everyone in her glass or just girls, and what she’d wear, and how it would play out–and honestly, I had the best time imagining it along with her.

And after all that, I had to sit Thalia down and confess that (mommy f’d up) I didn’t think we could have a big party because of how busy we’ve been and how we just cant manage to find a weekend that works. I told her that while we’re in Vermont next week, we would do something special with the small group of friends we’ll be with. I asked her whether she thought that was okay.

I prepared for tears. I prepared for The Great Whine.

“That’s okay Mommy” she said with enthusiasm. “That will be fun! We can do something special that day.”

“Of course honey, anything you want! What would you like to do?”

“Like…maybe we can go to the cake store. And pick out a cake!”

I imagine that Lucky Charms might factor into the “special occasion” equation too.

Next year may be different. Next year Thalia may want the big party with the friends and the presents and the dresses and the invitations and maybe the bowling. But for right now, God I love my almost six-year old.





23 thoughts on “The cake store”

  1. Picking out your cake is the best. Sometimes I think we project our own shortcomings on our kids. If Thalia HAD cried and wanted a party, I’m pretty sure you would have made it happen, Liz. Even at the last minute. I love these moments. I’m sure she’ll pick out the awesomest cake. Enjoy!

  2. Are you sure you’re not me? My daughter has a July birthday, too, and I also had the brilliant idea that this year I would have the party at the end of June so her friends would be around. Guess what didn’t happen? Planning it now for two weeks from Saturday. Must. Send. Evite.

    1. Knowing me, we’ll be throwing the six year party when she’s 7. Go you, for getting it done at all!

  3. It’s really amazing how flexible kids can be, isn’t it? My daughter’s birthday is June 22nd, which will always be during the last week of school (this year, it was the last day of school). Half the kids couldn’t come to her party and I was worrying about that, but it turned out that she really didn’t care. She had a great time anyway!

  4. Kids are awesome (and she’s a testament to the job you and Nate have done raising her). My son’s birthday is during the school year at the end of March–sometimes it’s in between spring break and Easter and it’s nearly impossible to find a weekend. It is so hard with as bus as everyone is. I am sure that her day will be super special and that she’ll remember picking out the cake more than anything else.

  5. Lucky Charms should do the trick. We are a sugary-cereal-for-birthday-breakfast family.

    Cookie Crisp has helped ease the pain of many birthday party planning disasters around here. Who needs a cake when you can have cookies at 7 AM.

  6. Imagining and planning the party is often the best part! I’ve got a turning-6-year-old this summer, too, and am really struggling between trying to have an elaborate party and having it be a very low-key affair. I expect low-key will win out, given constraints on time and budget! Enjoy Thalia’s celebration — I’m sure you all will!

    1. I still remember the Happiness Project chapter about Gretchen’s daughter spending so much time picking out her ice cream cake and how Gretchen realized that that was a lot of the fun. Not the actual eating of the cake which is over in a minute, but the imagining, the planning, the anticipation.

      By that logic, then maybe I did give my daughter the fun part already. (Ha.)

  7. My kids are still too little to have any school friends yet, thank goodness. We already have enough people in the family that are musts for inviting to birthday parties that I dread when we start adding friends too. Just in the “immediate” family are about 50 people. Yes, according to my husband, those are “immediate” family. We obviously have different views. I always say, low key, low budjet, they are little for crying out loud! My husband wins with his just “immediate” family plus a few close friends argument, then we have the 50 “immediate” people show up! Oh lots to learn!

  8. Um, you already know this, but your kid is awesome! The way she handled it speaks volumes about her character. Pretty impressive if you ask me. And I’m sure you guys will have a much better time with something low-key than being frazzled trying to throw together a big birthday party.

  9. Isn’t it surprising sometimes what makes our kids happy? Sometimes it’s not what we think. I thought for sure I’d be throwing my first kid’s party this May when my son turned 4. Instead he asked if we could go to the mountains, to the cabin we sometimes rent (the one with the “pool ball” table and the ladder). And he specifically mentioned cake – the kind with a ring of little cupcakes around the main cake, like last year. And when I couldn’t find that in our little mountain town, he was happy with plain old sheetcake decorated with fresh cut strawberries. I love that I can still make him happy with little things – may it always be that way!

  10. Bailey turns seven July 18th. The girl has never had a major friend party. She doesn’t seem to care much. When asked what she wanted to do this year, she said she wanted to go to Six Flags with me and her sister. DONE! I luff her for that. (Her sister is a whole other story.)

    I think some kids care about the whole thing more than others.

  11. Coming from another July birthday-r, the cake was ALWAYS the best part of my birthday.

    We have loads of friends who give their kids a choice: They can have $xxx of dollars to spend on something special, or they can have a party. They make sure either option includes cake and maybe a special dinner, but the choice is the kid’s to make. I know for the ones who do it, it gets them off the hook for a party most times, but the child is thrilled to make the choice.

    And, yes, Thalia is truly awesome. But there is no way I’m accepting that she is almost six! SIX!?!?

  12. I had the opposite problem for my 5 year old turning 6 – have always had nice themed b’dayparties for her (simply because I think I have never had one till I was 13 and felt the absence of photos when I saw others) but this was the one that she was most excited about because she could plan and make invitation lists, think of cake designs and games she would play.

    Unfortunately I had to have emergency surgery a couple of months before that so the planning I usually had to do was on hold. I had visions of tears when I told her of a small party with just a few children and that this year I couldnt do any baking. But she was surprisingly ok with it (this after me and my husband being away at the hospital for 6 weeks) and immediately scaled down everything in her mind. A cake was the only thing she specified as welll – a rainbow cake – that I ordered on the phone and she was so thrilled with it.

  13. Can we trade children? Cut to me wearing a Professor McGonegal costume in 100 degree heat trying to make something explode from sixteen little test tubes during potions class while the little bastard Hogwarts students wail “It isn’t working! Why isn’t mine exploding?” Then they all started throwing Quidditch bludgers at my head.

  14. Ah, the new york party. Mini turned 6 in January and for the second year in a row we opted out of the “let’s rent a space for 1,500 a pop” party. I always say if she were a summer baby we’d do something in the park, but who knows. Sounds like it all worked out. Hoping she really enjoys that cake 🙂 With the craziness that is party planning in New York, definitely don’t feel guilt over that one!

  15. This reminded me of the Christmas Tree post, when Thalia wanted a big tree, and you brought home a small tree, but to her it was big and she was thrilled.

    Sometimes kids surprise us in the most wonderful ways.

  16. I live in a small town, and believe it or not, we don’t have big party competitions.

    We have the birthday parties, in our backyards, or our basements.

    I can’t imagine trying to keep up with the hugeness of what a big city expects.

    And what Thalia picked out as important to her, sounds just right.

    What kid wouldn’t love that? Picking out their own cake.

    A slice of heaven on earth.

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