Ben’s seventh birthday was yesterday.
He happened to have the day off from school due to optional parent conferences, (optional? no, thank you) so we got to spend the whole day together. It being his birthday and all, I had a mighty big role to play: The role of good mommy. Fully attentive mommy. Un-Scary Mommy.
The day began not with cold cereal or breakfast bars, but with homemade chocolate chip pancakes. “You know how to make pancakes?” my baby asked incredulously. Yup, kiddo. Surprise!
I spent approximately four hours putting together various toys which I should have been smart enough not to buy since they very clearly needed a great deal of assembly, but dammit, I put every last one together. (And only clocked five obscenities and three mystery pieces left over.)
Ben had his birthday party at a pinball museum during the afternoon off from school, flanked by play-dates, where I played flag football, catch, knight and happy hostess.
I didn’t yell or raise my voice a single time. For the day, I had the patience of a saint. You want to take twenty minutes to put on your shoes, birthday boy? So be it.
Any time he wanted me, I was there, 100%. No work calls, no TV as a babysitter, no “in a minute’s,” no obsessive checking of e-mail. A fully attentive and engaged mommy, all day long.
As I tucked him in, I asked if he had a good birthday. The best, he responded, as my heart swelled.
This is the part where I should say that the day taught me the importance of unplugging and concentrating 100% on my children. That they deserve a warm breakfast in the morning and a mother who doesn’t get exasperated and is focused on them completely. That doing so made me happy and the long evening spent playing catch up for the day of playing hokey was worth it. That it was all worth it.
Well, it was worth it, of course. And perhaps a lesson in unplugging, sometimes and not raising my voice as much. But, thank God birthdays only come once a year. Being good is fucking exhausting.
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