I am recovering from my daughter's 12th birthday Pamper Party last night. I gave 6 facials, 6 mini pedis/manis, 6 shoulder/head massages. They devoured 7 pizzas, countless fruit kebabs & fresh juice mocktails. They ate all the banana & maple syrup cupcakes (more about those later).
Every single one of those girls said please and thank you. They were helpful and gracious. They showered her with the most thoughtful gifts including a home made friendship token booklet which included "coupons" to redeem for "hugs" and "a shoulder to cry on". I honestly could not have been more touched by the incredible friendship these girls showed to my daughter.
It has always been difficult for my daughter at her birthday. First off, her birthday is Christmas Eve. No one wants to come to a birthday party on Christmas Eve. I have tried. Then her brother became a chorister and even her family party had to be squeezed in between his singing responsibilities. We tried to fit her party in between everything else that was going on but we were never that successful. She hasn't really complained about it all that much.
We don't have much money. If I could find 2 pennies to rub together, I'd be rich. So the prospect of trying to fund a birthday party seemed just out of our reach. But one morning at about 3 am (because that's when I get my best ideas) I had a brainwave to throw a small pamper party at our home with a few of Abigail's friends. After all, I'm a Neal's Yard Remedies consultant. I've got all the gear. I've been trained on how to give a wonderfully effective facial. I know how to paint nails. I've got one of those Indian head massage thingymajigs. I've even got one of those spa foot baths that takes up space in the spare bedroom. And I've got buckets and buckets of wonderfully natural and organic Neal's Yard Remedies products to use. I could even possibly, maybe teach the girls a few tidbits about how important what we put in and on our bodies is.
Initially, I limited it to four girls. Then it became 5. A few days before the party it became 6, 7 if you include Abigail. I had enlisted the help of a couple older girls we know who had volunteered to help. I could do this.
That was a big commitment from me. Struggling with my depression and anxiety there are few times when I feel strong enough to take a stand and say I can do something, especially something as big as a birthday party, which requires meticulous planning, a task I used to be able to do in spades but these days find all a bit overwhelming. I made a list. Then I made another list. I tried to combine the lists. I wrote up a carefully crafted time line of what I would need to do when. I made more lists.
Still I experienced some hiccups along the way. The girls who were going to help couldn't in the end. They had some school commitments. OK, no big deal. I adjusted the plan. I would just have to work more quickly and do things at the same time and maybe not do everything I had hoped.
I made the banana and maple syrup muffins and realised when I took them out of the oven that I used plain flour rather than self raising flour. Oops. Not a lot I could do about it so I just went with it. Then I cooked the second batch a bit too long. Like 10 minutes too long. I made extra frosting and topped up their flatness and covered up their darkness with tons of icing sugar and butter and hoped the awesome flavour would compensate for their density and hardness.
I got all the beauty equipment laid out in the lounge with stations for each treatment. That's when I realised there wasn't adequate seating for 7 girls. There was for 5, 6 at a push, but not for 7. OK, well, they were going to have to figure that out.
Then my grocery delivery was late. Not really late but just enough to cause me about 15 minutes of accelerated heart rate, shallow breathing, and curling up in a small ball.
One of the girls came home with Abigail directly after school. Thank goodness. I put the girls to work on cutting up the fruit and putting it on to skewers for the fruits kebabs.
Before I knew it, everyone was arriving. Parties are fun. First it was all quiet. Next thing I knew I had 7 12 year old girls giggling away in the next room.
They got their juice and kebabs. One by one they got their facials, massages, manis, and pedis. I don't think I got everyone's nails painted. A couple of the massages were very short. Everyone got an exquisite facial though. One girl displayed an incredible talent for doing everyone's hair in a complex style. We had fishtail plaits, we had inside out plaits, we had around the head and down the side plaits. We had countless photos of the girls with cucumber slices on their eyes and they relaxed with their face masks on. We had meditative music. We had an exhaustive debate on the merits of music by Justin Beiber. We sang with Taylor Swift at the top of our lungs. I had a shockingly well informed discussion with one of the girls telling me all about why palm oil is so bad. Inside I was rejoicing.
But I was running out of time. In a state of panic, I had requisitioned the help of my husband to do some nail painting. The girl looked horrified but Abigail assured her that her father was in fact must better at painting nails than her mother. This is a true statement.
The end came all too quickly. I don't think I've ever said that about a child's birthday party before. One girl wrapped her arms around my waist and gave me a proper hug when it was her turn to leave. I almost burst into tears.
Abigail told me as we were tidying up that it was the best party ever. Not just the best birthday party or her best party, but the best party she had ever seen in her life. She went through all of the gifts she was given and marvelled at how thoughtful and how much effort must have went into the carefully chosen "just for Abigail" gifts were. She told me she was very lucky to have these girls as her friends. She told me how lucky she was to have me as her mum. She put herself to bed and it wasn't even 8 pm. She was exhausted.
I collapsed on the sofa with a glass of cider in hand. I was exhausted. It was worth every single moment.