Monday, January 24, 2011

birthday parties, past and present

Aren't I supposed to be happy in the party store?! 

When I saw Ray Romano's character on his new show Men of a Certain Age, and that he owned a party store, I automatically thought "Gee, that must be a solely strictly completely happy place to work! How could anyone NOT be happy amongst all those balloons and decorations and symbols of celebration and glee?!" 

And yet, there I was.


In a party store.

First I walked past the light pink "Baby's 1st" section. The exact same ones that I used for my baby girl's First Birthday party.  Which was yesterday.  Oh.  I mean 5 years ago.

Then I arrived at the section for my son's 8th birthday, which will happen next week.  I was okay.... and right next to it were the exact same little firehats that I had at same son's 2nd birthday party.  Which was yesterday.  Oh.  I mean 6 years ago.

And then the tears spring to my eyes.

"Can I help you with anything?" the saleslady asked.  Listen, lady, can't you see I'm trying to cry privately, yet in public, here?!  "No, thank you, just getting all my Hot Wheels party supplies."  (that's me, Chatty Cathy, I chat with everyone.  In detail.)

Yes, Hot Wheels.  As I left that aisle, I found myself walking gratefully past the camoflage party goods section.  Oh, you didn't know they had a camoflage party goods section?  Why, yes, because nothing says happy birthday, my precious child, like symbols of war.  Yes, the candles for the cake of that theme included..... tanks.

I am female.  I understand that I do not understand everything male.  But it sometimes still amazes me how little I do understand, about those men from Mars, me being from Venus, and all.

So, what do I do when faced with emotions in a party store?  Of course.  I text my girlfriends.  Complete with pictures.  And requisite follow-up phone calls of a therapy and venting and support nature.

I can do this.  I can have this person who is now taller than my bustline keep growing up.  And out. 

Wait, what?!  What did I just say?  Ahhh, yes, there is the crux of the problem.  Out.  They are out in the world now, my babies.  Ages 7 and 6.  And, on a day when the newscasters are practically shouting at me that with the current windchill a person can get frostbite within five minutes, I am supposed to drop off their little selves, and allow them to go into that big ol' building, by themselves, for six hours.  Without me.

And yet, for months and years now, they keep coming out the other end, just fine, all in one piece, and having gained knowledge and experience, six hours later.  Like a conveyor belt.  Of life.

Deep sigh.  I do a lot of deep sigh'ing these days.  I am all at once full of happiness that they are growing up, while simultaneously full of heartbreak.

I think I'll go cry now.  Oh.  No, I won't.  Because in a few minutes I will pick them up at the end of the conveyor belt.  And I will keep on giving them the things that they can get only from me.  I am still part of the process.  Only now there are more people on my team.