Yesterday morning, I realized that I was out of time. I kept thinking I had another day - but then the day filled up in a flash and there I was. Out of time.
I know it shouldn't matter. Lucy knows she is loved and doesn't measure our love for her in gifts received, and all of those other things people say to make themselves feel better about giving shitty gifts or forgetting altogether. She deserves more than a random selection of stuff (none of which she had asked for) and a half-assed attempt at wrapping. It could have been so easy.
You know what she loves? What she always asks for, every time she sees them?
She is so easy to please - it wouldn't have taken much. I let her down. I let myself down.
As I slowly wrapped the display box I had bought because I thought it would be perfect for her miniature glass animal collection, I realized that it was really not as exciting as it had seemed in the store. I fought the urge to just stuff my tips from the weekend in there, and tie it with a bow: "I couldn't decide what to get you, so I thought we would go shopping together!"
No. Lame. This isn't about the money. "It's the thought that counts...." my grandmother's voice echoes in my ears. This is about making some effort, and maybe planning a little further in advance. I wrack my brain, trying to figure out how to make it all work.
Or I can stop worrying about the gifts, and just plan an amazing day for her.
Live in the moment.
I'll give her memories for her birthday.
They will last a lifetime.
Who am I kidding. What a fucking cop-out. She's 8. She wants a big pile of boxes wrapped in pretty paper full of things she has been dreaming about. And I got her a stupid display box.
I am an asshole.
By 5 o'clock I was in a serious funk. We were at a friend's house for dinner, and as I stirred the tomato sauce I leaned over the counter and muttered under my breath "I totally forgot that her birthday was tomorrow. I mean, I knew it was her birthday, I didn't forget, but I just..... I didn't realize it was TOMORROW. I ran out of time. I am *so* not prepared."
He looked at me with a furrowed brow and muttered back "How could you forget? You were there."
Yes and no. And that may be the root of the problem. Of my guilt. Of my need to do more.
The call came in just after 8am. We got to the hospital by 9, breathless and sweaty and tear-stained.
We were late to the party. The nurse said she had been born at 2. Or maybe it was 2:30. I wasn't really paying attention, because I was staring at the tiny bundle in the bassinet, as we stood in the hallway of the maternity ward just inside the security door she had buzzed us through.
Lucy's birth parents were in a different wing. They had already said goodbye and sent her to the nursery to wait for us. The nurses had taken turns holding her and crooning to her, comforting this baby who was between mothers, as they gave her a bath and put her in a tiny striped hat and pricked her heel before swaddling her and laying her down under the warming lamps.
I don't know how long she had been there waiting for us - not more than a few hours - but the thought of her being alone that morning for even a few moments makes my stomach churn.
The thought of her lying on another woman's chest is unbearable.
And the thought of a mother kissing her newborn baby goodbye and handing her to a nurse, knowing she would never see her again?
I am just so grateful. Grateful to them. Grateful for her.
I want to do a good job, because they trusted me to.
When someone gives you a baby, how can you possibly do enough to show your gratitude? How can you prove yourself worthy of such a priceless treasure? Today, when I realized that I could have done better, my heart broke a little. Those people gave me a baby, and that baby is turning 8, and dammit if she wants one of those bath bombs, I should be driving where ever I need to, to get her one. And I will. But not in time for her birthday. In the meantime, what can I do?
Bake a cake? Check. Homemade lasagna? Check. After school outing for a cake pop at Starbucks and her first ever pedicure? Check. Streamers and candles? Check.
Tomorrow is the much-anticipated, long-awaited, carefully planned party - a sleepover for 6, with a sundae bar before bed and bacon in the morning. And then, I want to get her one of those damn bath bombs, so that I can sleep at night.
6 hours ago