Yesterday...my niece's 6th birthday party.
We travel three hours on Friday for an overnight stay with my sister-in-law "C", her husband "G" and their girls "L" and "A" so we can celebrate "L"'s 6th birthday. We arrive at 9:00 p.m. to find my SIL baking three cakes, my BIL plunked on the couch recovering from a 22-hour work gig, the girls sound asleep in bed (not surprising) and that my husband's little brother "P" is also in town for the celebration. Surprise!
"P is here," C tells us as she separates eggs over the garbage can.
"Like here here?" we ask.
"Yup, here here, but not here at the moment because he's in The City visiting with a friend. I told him that he has to be back no later than midnight so I can pick him up at the train station."
"What's he doing here?"
"He got a call from [super extremely famous high-end modeling agency] to have his photo shoot done with [super extremely famous high-end fashion photographer]. It was supposed to be today, but I guess it's been moved to next week so he's staying with us until then."
"That kid is going to be really famous, isn't he?" one of us says (as one of us usually does) a little ruefully.
Someone else pipes up (as one of us usually does), "As long as he pays for our kids' college educations!"
C finishes the three cakes, which will ultimately be carefully cut, stacked, sculpted and frosted together to create one beautiful cake that looks just like a baseball stadium. My SIL says, "I know, I'm completely crazy."
My FIL, his wife and their daughter arrive at 10:15. Lots more chatting and watching my SIL bake.
We all finally retire to bed at 11:30.
The day of the party is gorgeous. Despite earlier predictions in the week of rain and yuck, the day is sunny and rapidly warms up. Chris and I greet P, next supermodel of the world as he and my 12 year-old SIL "S" are playing Mario Brothers on the Wii. Breakfasts are consumed. Everyone takes turns in my SIL's one lone shower.
SIL gives us all our marching orders for the day. Chris and I are to head to Michaels' Crafts to pick up supplies for the craft project (decorating blank baseball caps) and when we return we are put in charge of putting peanuts and popcorn in their various bags. Chris also helps with outside set up.
The rest of the family arrives around noon. My MIL and her husband. Lunches are consumed. Party set up continues. The gigantic baseball themed Bouncy House arrives and, once it is set up, the male adults and the little Girls avail themselves of its fun while the rest of us hang out in the kitchen watching the Master Baker frost the baseball stadium cake.
The guests start arriving at 2:00 p.m. The older kids (that would be all of the 6 year-olds) immediately make their way into the Bouncy House, while the moms, dads and their toddlers/babies hang out on the driveway watching.
The rest of the day is filled with food, bouncing, baseball, crafts, musical bases, parents hanging around talking to each other and amusing their babies/toddlers, cake, and keeping kids out of the house. L seems to be having a wonderful time during her party. Aside from a few kids getting bonked on the head by a stray elbow or knee in the Bouncy House and one bitchy mom acting rude, there's no tears or drama and everyone has a marvelous time.
Lots of joy and laughter.
Truth be told...I've been pretty much dreading this party.
Awful, I know.
This is my beautiful little niece we're talking about! Her 6th birthday!
How could I be dreading it?
Well, of course, I've fully expected to be attending this party with my own little one in tow. But, after the adoption falls through last month, obviously that isn't happening. So, I go with a sense of dread...of being surrounded by all of these moms, dads and their kids .... and Chris and I still in the waiting and wondering and hoping and agonizing stage of adoption.
I keep thinking that at some point during the day it will all be too much and I'll have to excuse myself so I can go downstairs, lock myself in the bathroom and cry for a while. That somehow this party will just bring up all of the feelings of loss and sadness that I've been experiencing on and off for weeks.
Yet somehow...once the day starts...I am amazed to find myself enjoying everything and everyone. I am not sad, but instead feeling joyful while watching the kids play, meeting and cooing over all of the babies and toddlers, talking to other moms. It's so surprising.
"K" and "S" are kind enough to hand off their 3 month-old baby "R" to me to hold after she's been fed. She's a super mellow, beautifully plump little baby with lots of dark hair and really intense dark eyes. R seems perfectly content to simply be in my lap as I ask K & S to provide some advice for a soon-to-be new parent.
Many of the people I meet have learned from my SIL of our recent failed adoption. They're all very kind. And while people's kindness just a few weeks ago was simply more than I could bear, today their kindness feels soothing and healing. Surprisingly, I'm able to talk about what happened without feeling resentful, sad, angry or exhausted. Instead, surrounded by the joy of the party and the joy of the people and with little R hanging out so happily in my arms, I feel OK and even hopeful in a way that I haven't felt in weeks.
As if soon the baby in my arms will actually be our daughter.