I awoke extra early this morning. A little bit of excitement mixed with anxiety. I wanted to get up, go downstairs, start doing something. But instead I lay here. I began writing this.
Today is my daughter’s second birthday party. She is, unusually, still asleep which, given that she has spent the past week and a half waking every day with the first words ‘it’s my birthday,’ and telling anyone who asks (and a few that haven’t) that she is getting a scooter (a pink one), is quite impressive. Maybe she is more sensible than I am and is banking those extra minutes in bed as preparation for later when the chaos of overindulgent grandparents, an army of aunties and uncles, reams of discarded wrapping paper and too many toys for any one person to really know what to do with will leave me simply shattered.
Her father and I have very different attitudes to celebrating birthdays. I stand firmly in favour of dragging the special day out for as long as possible, giving great gifts and, if possible, topping it all off with a tiara to show the world just who’s running the show. He would prefer to mark them with a simple (and cheap) card, a single candle and swiftly moving on. But when it comes to our lovely little girl he concedes to celebrate.
In fact, this year he even treated me. Sometimes he surprises even me with just how lovely he can be. When I got up yesterday I discovered two packages by my bed, each containing a dress. A lovely gesture showing that, despite his incomprehension that any single event would require a new outfit because clothes aren’t magic and, aside from protecting our modesty and keeping us warm, really are pretty meaningless, he is starting to see how my neurotic mind works. However, he still has horrible taste. Maybe I should have done a better job in hiding my disgust or maybe I should have sucked it up and smiled anyway because I really did appreciate the gesture. But I didn’t. In that moment I looked disappointed. Sad. And I saw that reflected in his eyes.
Hopefully my daughter won’t feel that sudden, surprising sadness when she opens the wrapping to reveal that the scooter she has wanted for weeks is in fact red, not pink. I’m not sure I could handle the heartbreak.
Because disappointment is difficult. Often we find it in places we know we really shouldn’t, showing us how selfish or spoilt or shallow or stupid we can be. Sometimes it hits in that sharp shock and you just can’t hide it. Sadly, it also can creep slowly beside you, edging more close day by day and refusing to go away. Your hope conspiring against you to help deliver that blow. Sometimes the hardest hit. But the one you are expected to hide. Those of you who manage this are greater people than I.
But thankfully this morning we are all smiles. Smiles and scrapes on our knees.