13 July 2010

the eleventh plague [or a post showing masterful martyrdom]

[Am I the only person who can never remember how many plagues there were? I keep thinking it's some biblical, symbolic number - specifically, I always think it's seven - and really, can anyone name more than seven? Oh, your six year old can? yeah, yeah, I know - he or she and Ada can get together and be tedious....But it's not seven, as any self-respecting Judeo Christian six year old knows - there are ten... or perhaps eleven]

Birthdays are a gift, right? a time to celebrate that we were born into this world? a guarantee that for at least one day a year, the world (or your tiny part of it at least) revolves around you? right?

Well, not when you're Queen Of The House.

Queen? Is that what I am? Shouldn't I have workers? Oh, they're all six and under? Great...

When one is Queen, she is in charge of birthdays. And when I say in charge, let me make this clear: If the Queen doesn't do anything about a birthday, nothing shall be done.

Case in point - my own birthday.
I am blessed with dear friends who want to celebrate my birthday, but in my household, nada. It's not even an insensitive thing (something I need reminding of....) - it's just a lack of an appropriate person to do the duty.

The King doesn't mark birthdays. He dutifully does whatever tasks he's assigned to mark them - but he doesn't do the task-assigning. [I hear tails of lore of Kings who do organize and celebrate birthdays - I believe them. But they are rare....]

I love my darling Paul - he's a great husband - but he is not a birthday-celebrator. My (non)birthday celebration this year is proof positive of this.

Please, dear friends, do not let the irony be lost on you. There are four birthdays in my household which I am responsible for celebrating. Three of those people- so seventy five percent - I was also responsible for birthing.

Yes, on June 17, 2004, March 21, 2007, and June 18, 2009, I did the hardest thing a woman can physically do - (if you'd like to argue this point, go ahead, but you won't find a woman who has given birth who will be on your side - and many of those women have also passed kidney stones, run marathons, and climbed mountains, so shut yo mouth)

I birthed babies. I spent quite a few, very painful hours bringing these children into the world -
all for what?

[Oh - to ensure the propagation of the species? to glorify our Creator? to participate in the miracle of life? to ensure permanent joy and amusement in my life? - blah blah]

For what?

To then be saddled with celebrating for the person I birthed... the day that I birthed them.

Do said children remember that day? nope
Do I? yes sir ree bob
Did said children accomplish something on that day? I mean... if you count responding to the instinct to breathe an accomplishment...
Did I? you betcha

Yes... you carry them for nine months, birth them, and spend the next how ever many years you buy into this stuff celebrating them

And now I shall fall onto the grenade to save an entire people - all for amazing principles and beliefs.
Because I am not just the Queen of the Forster family, but am the queen of martyrdom everywhere.

You might ask why we keep doing this - we monarchs of family units -

We do it because we're supposed to. Because we know how important celebrations are - some of us know it consciously, and some of us can just feel it in our bones. The Queens take charge of birthdays, weddings, funerals, religious and secular holidays- we are in charge of giving life meaning through the ritualistic celebration of the occasions.

If women quit doing this, we wouldn't be women. And probably the world would fall apart. That sounds dramatic, but I believe it with all that I am. We need these celebrations to remind us that each and every day has meaning. We aren't creating a falsehood. We are pointing to a truth that we cannot quite articulate except by cake and carefully wrapped presents, candles and calla lillies, and casseroles and corsages, Christmas trees and hot chocolate.
We can stamp our feet and say that we matter. Or we can do what the new atheists do and stamp our feet and say we don't matter. But the truth is betrayed in the simple fact that we sing and blow out candles.


We have all these birthdays.
It begins in March - with sweet, yellow Eason.
Then, in May, I come through, and if we shall celebrate as a family, I shall organize....
Then in June, the flies start swarming in the sky, the Nile turns to blood, and the bookend children are on the 17th and 18th.
Then, as though I've had time to recover, Paul (not to mention America) is July 4th.

(Add my mother-in-law on May 11th, mother's day, father's day, and my daddy's birthday on July 3rd and you can see why this is equivalent to locusts)

I'm exhausted. Very, very exhausted.

Reasons sometimes I'd rather have frogs:

1) The guest list. We are blessed with a big family, an even bigger God-family and that's before we even get to the friends who are dear to us (who are really all unofficial godparents), which is still before we get to children's friends who are dear to them. I'd love to include everyone in everything, but I'd quickly get to 30 grown ups and 30 kids and we'd still be leaving people out. So, each birthday comes along and I fret about who to include. It's not that we love some people and don't love others, but there are some people who get automatic tickets to events (grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles) and usually, by the time I've handed out automatic tickets, I'm at capacity. In fact, the past two years, we've had to have two parties for Ada - one for her friends and one family/godfamily celebration - because combining them was going to be no fun for anyone. I'm looking for a solution to this problem. I'm thinking of limiting the friend celebration to once every three years or something. Who knows.

And then this year, Ada was planning a small, all girl birthday party with friends from school and church. And then her chin quivered at the idea that her very best friend in the world, Ren, who happens to be a neighbor and the son of good friends of ours (with whom she's in a not-so-covert romantic relationship - see here), wasn't going to be allowed to come to the all girl birthday party (excluded by gender) or the family dinner (excluded by the fact that he's not related to us by blood or by baptism - you know - except in the way that we're all related by baptism, but that would make it a REALLY BIG PARTY - which we'll have one day. I'll let God do the hosting then.)

So, exceptions have to be made, which keep me up at night.

2) The simple logistics are just daunting when you get these celebrations back to back like this. Feeding friends and family, presents, calendaring - dear heavens - the calendar. In fact, because of the calendar, we usually end up celebrating in Jackson and again in Hattiesburg with Paul's folks.


This year was sweet Collins's first birthday and Ada Brooks's sixth.

Six is so old.

Ada Brooks wanted a baking birthday party for her girlfriends. I said okay. She asked so nicely and calmly, Ruth Bader Ginsburg wouldn't have been able to say no.

I couldn't handle the idea of three celebrations, so we made the decision to combine Ada Brooks's and Collins's Jackson family and godfamily celebration. Which does, for the record, include 10 adults and a smattering of children, plus the five of us. So, if that's not a full enough house, I don't know what is...
And you cannot kick people out onto the deck in late june.

Ada wanted coconut cake. Weirdo-head.

Collins wanted cake... or was willing to have one.

His godmother, Calen, got to make his cake. (birthday cake making is a traditional forster family godmother duty co-founded by Ada Brooks's godmother, Mel, and myself five years ago...) Calen made a yummy, yummy white cake with even yummier, yummier white chocolate icing.
Here she is, explaining to her child how to make white chocolate icing.

Sadie Macon will be a baker by the time she's three. She's determined.

So, we had a small pink and blue family birthday dinner for our pink child and our blue child. They relished in an italian feast (cheese ravioli, caesar salad, foccacia bread, and a few italian type appetizers, i think, but I cannot remember).

We blew out candles.

We opened presents.
(Or loved on children while they tried to open presents)

Ada got almost all cooking-themed presents, which is a reflection of our family's love for me, perhaps? =)

We enjoyed the company of the incomparable Will Brantley.

We had a good time pointing to the meaning of life, even if I now need to be put in an institution to recover. Tomorrow, I'll write about Ada Brooks's baking birthday bash. Today, I'm too tired.

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