Sunday, July 15, 2007

Joy and chaos and chaos and chaos and joy...

The theme of this blog is supposed to be finding joy in the chaos of my life. The chaos is there, in my face every day. It shouts at me, it overwhelms me. It's just part of me, my personality, and the fact that I am a mom to four children. The joy is there too, but sometimes it's just a whisper and I have to look for it, be still and notice it, or the chaos will take over and I'll miss the blessings completely. That's the reason I started writing this blog. To fight against my inclinations towards melancholy and frustration and make me stop and document the moments of joy, and hopefully see in the process that joy abounds in my life. I just have to look for it.

Yesterday was Clara's first birthday party. Although I have been dreading Clara turning one from time-passing-too-quickly standpoint, I had really been looking forward to the party. I sent out beautiful invitations with black and white photographs of her. I decorated the house with pink tissue paper flowers and frogs, and bought pink and green balloons. I bought her a new party dress and I revelled in all things pink and girly. My last baby was turning one and I wanted to make a big deal about it, to celebrate it perfectly in grand, girly style. Sometimes, I am an idiot.

3 hours before the party-I am in the kitchen working on cupcakes and I hear Ben say "Mom, the balloons are going round and round!" He had taken his scissors and cut each and every string attached to the balloons decorating the living room. All 18 balloons were either spinning in the ceiling fan or collected 20 ft up in the vault of our ceiling.

2 hours before the party-I am holding an extension ladder for The Man while he corrals 18 balloons and brings them back down again to tie on new strings.

45 minutes before the Party-The Man and I are in the kitchen making sandwiches for the platters when we hear screaming coming from the living room. The Man and I both look at each other, contemplating how serious the screams sound and my mother-in-law springs, with truly amazing speed, into the living room. Clara was pulling up on our fire place and fell into the firewood, turning the left side of her face into a series of bruises and scratches. Poor, poor baby.

here she is showing off her scratches!

20 minute before the party-The Man and I are running around the house undoing the damage that Ben and Clara have done in the last 3 hours and I realize to my mortification that I am still in my pajamas. I have completely forgotten to shower. So I sprint off the the bedroom to throw on some make-up, deodorant and pull my hair in a pony tail, making a note to myself to avoid being in any pictures.

20 minutes after the party begins-Family starts arriving including my teenage nephew. The Man and I look at each other and realize we have forgotten our own teenager, Brandon. He spent the night at a friend's house up the road and we were supposed to go get him before his sister's party. The Man's the one sprinting now, out to the car to pick up our son.

The Party-I tried my best to keep the party list small, I really did. But just inviting our families and a couple very close friends we ended up with 17 children ranging from Clara's age to age 16. Chaos reigned supreme. My ideas of activities quickly went out the window for balloon fights and and games of tag among the paper roses. Video games were pulled out by the teenagers and the 3 prepubescent girls quarantined themselves in Allison's room. Drinks were spilled, babies fell, parents reprimanded, children shouted and laughed and bickered. Clara became overwhelmed at the cacophony of noise and fast moving bodies and stayed mostly in my lap. We had forgotten to charge the video camera. I kept forgetting to take pictures. The gift opening was a tornado of little hands and squeals as I tried desperately to see each gift before it was discarded for the next.

And then before I knew it, people were collecting shoes, and hair bows, and toys and bustling their kids out the door. And as I sat there yesterday evening, amid the mess and remains of the party I felt a little sad. That it was over, and it was so chaotic and such a blur. And that if there was joy, I had missed it. And I felt once again the creeping in of melancholy and self-pity. And so I am stopping now, before it takes hold, to list the things that were beautiful about this crazy day.
  1. My older 3 children had a wonderful time. The love their cousins and friends dearly and couldn't have asked for a better afternoon. They were all glowing after the party. In fact Ben said "I wuv Cwara's party!"
  2. My daughter is turning one year old. She is beautiful, and healthy and brings me unspeakable joy. She has so many people that love her. She is blessed beyond measure.
  3. And look at these pictures:

It's obvious that even if I missed the joy, Clara found some. And someone, someone who knows all about the chaos and what it's like to be the mom of a birthday girl, captured it for me.

Thank you friend.


Christine said...

happy birthday baby. and happy birthday to you, too, mama.

this so reminded me of BOTH 1st birthday parties we had here for my kids. a whirlwind of craziness and sweat and cake and people. and then it was done. but the babies were happy, and a new era in their childhood had begun.

how bittersweet it all is.

she is gorgeous, joy, gorgeous.

thirtysomething said...

Happy Happy Day. Amid the chaos, glee reigned supreme for the one for whom it mattered the most--the Birthday girl. First birthday parties are a gateway into childhood and always full of memories we cherish for years to come.
You know what 'they' say. Life happens while we are making other plans. Oh so true.
Great pix by the way, so precious and adorable, your baby.

Beck said...

Happy birthday, Clara!
Good job with the party.

bubandpie said...

Have I mentioned how much I love the name Clara? It would almost be worth it to have another baby, if I could be sure it would be a girl, just so I could name her Clara.

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I have been there! I have also benefited from another person's pictures of my own kid's birthday party because I just couldn't get behind a camera during the party.

Happy Birthday!

slouching mom said...

Oh! But those gorgeous pictures of your gorgeous girl mean that she had fun, and everything else is optional...

You did good, I think.

LOL at forgetting Brandon!

pleasantlypurple said...

hey, zander had a blast yesterday and from what i could tell- so did everyone else. i think your party was a huge sucess, all those kids of varing ages having fun and not really any problems. even zander played well and only had two small incidences (pouting briefly after the pinata and getting upset once because he was standing behind someone as they went to hit a balloon and acidentally got hit in the mouth. luckily i was standing there when it happened and diffused my little time bomb fairly quickly). anyway, in my experience, all birthday parties are chaotic to the giver- regardless of the childs age or location. so kudos to you, you did a great job! p.s. i just sat and caught up on all the other blogs and don't have time to respond to all of them, but i always enjoy your thoughts- some make me giggle and others make me tear up.

karen said...

Brandon's a big boy...if he was feeling forgotten, I'm sure he would have called! You still get one WMP for that, though. :)

painted maypole said...

you found some joy. I read it here. That is part of why I blog, too. To force me to stop and think about life, to find the meaning and the joy in it.

GrammaMary said...

I just loved your blog!!! I thught you and The Man gave a wonderful party for Clara. I certainly enjoyed every minute of it, and even with so many adults and children of all ages there, you seemed to be so calm throughout the day! I didn't realize that I "sprinted" so fast to rescue our precious little Clara Elizabeth!! Oh, how I love her -- as well as all the otherS.
Love, Mom