Sometimes motherhood looks like a clown in control, juggling all ten balls perfectly one after the after, while the crowd looks on, amazed, thinking, how does she do it? These times always feel lovely. Fridges are stocked and everything flows and you’re one step ahead of the game, pre-empting needs and keeping routines in check and generally keeping chaos at bay.
In my five years of parenting, I’ve learned – and never ceased to be amazed by – how quickly the tides, however, can change. One minute you’ve done six loads of laundry, caught up on all your editing work, cooked healthy quinoa balls for kids’ lunch boxes and rearranged shoe cupboards, and the next you’re frantically digging through drawers for clean underwear and asking your friend to drop round some milk and nappies urgently.
We make room for these times of ebb and flow, remembering that all mums are clowns trying to keep our balls in the air. Parenting is a circus and we tackle the show by knowing what to take seriously, and what not to.
Which leads us nicely into Ella’s 5th birthday. For many different reasons, life is hard for us right now. Eight out of ten balls are on the floor and though I love to throw kid’s parties, the thought of hosting one for Ella was not making me happy.
Rule number one in motherhood: Learn to cheat.
For example, Cheat Cakes – you know them? They involve a mad dash to Woollies at closing time the day before said party. They involve selecting the least shitty looking of all the shitty looking cakes, whacking on a couple of My Little Ponies from the toy section, running to your friend’s house which is two streets away at 6:30pm and begging her for five candles because you’ve just realised you don’t have any, arranging them onto My Little Pony cake and then lying down to take a nap.
They are your new best friend.
Look at that smile. THE KIDS DON’T CARE, MUMS. All I’m saying is that cheating is good for you.
Second rule of parenting: Find friends who will cover for you. (Thank you, Claire. I will reimburse you with five new candles although I probably won’t because life is hard and I’ll most definitely forget to.)
So anyway, I gave Ella a few different options for her birthday and – without hesitation – she picked the one I knew she would: A spa party.
Lucky for me, this involved handing my credit card over to the lovely ladies at Sassy Chics, a newly opened children’s day spa, while I stuck up my Defeat flag, told them they’re in charge, and then sat down and sipped my coffee in peace. They were wonderful.
And lucky for Ella and her five little friends she got total control over inviting, they were spoiled with foot soaks and hand massages and nail painting and make-up and a stack of other totally ridiculous over-the-top indulgences they lost their minds over. Honestly, they were like a bunch of sixteen year olds and while the mums looked on gushing, and Oh my god-ing, Joel could barely watch and stepped out several times to – I think – have a stroke in private.
We have not heard the end of it, folks. The girls loved it.
Joel has, however, signed her for up for aikido, just to keep it balanced — something he’s been hanging out for since she took her first breath in hospital.
And just like that, our girl is five.
Happy birthday, darling girl. We love you so much.