Well, there was just something about her attitude that day that did not sit well with me.....So for the past year, I have been thinking a lot about birthdays, the way we (meaning Russ and I) do birthdays, and what it's teaching our kids. Somewhere along the way, Anna seemed to get the idea that a "happy" birthday was one that brought her lots of guests and lots of presents. That's not what I had intended her to learn. After her 7th birthday, I got to have a little talk with her about it all, after she grumpily complained that night before bed. We've had little talks on similar subjects many times since then. Talks about how toys don't bring happiness, talks about choosing to be thankful for what we have instead of seeing all the things others have that we don't, talks about children around the world and what their lives might be like compared to ours....
Of all the many hopes I have for my children, one of them would be that they develop self confidence in themselves, that they see their own value NOT because of what they might look like or because of what things they have attained in life, but realize how wonderful they are because of their character. What will they choose to do when no one is looking, what kinds of words will they choose to speak, how will they decide to spend their time and talents, and will they be able to, if need be, choose to have less things knowing that there is greater happiness to be found with time spent with loved ones, helping, serving, laughing, creating, giving, problem solving, working together and thinking about one another before oneself.
A year ago, I wanted Anna to understand how much we loved her and will always love her....I wanted her to feel joy because of the securities of family and home and all the love that surrounds her. I wanted her to realize that a room full of all the toys her heart desired could never bring her contentment, satisfaction, peace, and happiness like she can gain by choosing to be grateful, hard working, generous, compassionate, helping and teaching others even when she might not gain much in return, always learning and finding ways to grow and develop into the person she wants to be.
So, birthdays are becoming something different for us. On our kids birthdays, we want them to feel special and loved and valued as a member of our family.....we don't want them to be disgruntled because they didn't get enough presents. Of course, there are many ways to have birthday parties, and just because someone does it differently doesn't make them more right, or better because of it...and it doesn't mean they are doing it all wrong either. We all get to choose what we feel is best according to our circumstances and beliefs.
We just celebrated Carter's 6th birthday on the 24th of July. He is such a sweet boy, so kind and giving and fun loving. We decided as a family that the week of our birthday we get to choose an activity to do together as a family...anything we want to do...and on the actual day, we get to have a special birthday dinner of our choosing and then open presents from mom and dad and siblings. And of course grandma and grandpa, since they wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them, right? We also get to choose what birthday treat we want, like a traditional cake and ice cream, or something totally different! For us, we don't feel the need to stress out and spend additional money throwing a huge fancy party....honestly, as the mom, I really can't enjoy my kids birthdays when I feel like I have to do it BIG. Russ and I are just simple folk anyways.
So mister Carter chose chicken salad sandwiches and watermelon for his dinner. Yum! And he had a fabulous brownie pudding whipped cream kinda "cake" for his dessert. He chose to go to Blast Off in Idaho Falls for our family activity. He got a real bow with arrows (that he LOVES), baseball glove, Superman toy, transformer toy, and a few treats that he was so sweet to share with his sisters....now that's love. And the best part was he was happy and gracious and a joy to be with. The day before his birthday I was talking with Anna and Carter about how we were going to do birthdays and they wouldn't be getting lots of presents. It made me so happy to hear Anna's reply, "Mom, what's important is having fun and getting to spend time with each other, so it doesn't matter how many presents we get." I know it's going to be hard sometimes for them. It was hard for me, as a kid and teenager and even adult at times, to want more than what I had. Any human being will feel that way at times. But as my life goes on, I learn from experience that as fun as it is to get new things here and there, the happiness wanes.....but the happiness I feel when I am surrounded by my husband and children only grows stronger with time. And I know that as Russ and I put more emphasis on spending quality time with our children, they will learn it too.....because they already are.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Carter bug!!! We're gonna love you forever!!!!