Yesterday we celebrated Ava's 7th birthday, all day, from a breakfast out at Smitty's on her request, to church, to a swim party in Didsbury, and then homemade pizza while watching Princess & the Frog to finish. It was a great day. I feel like I'm fighting a cold so had to dig deep into the energy reserves to complete the day's events, but as a mom, that's what we do. She had a wonderful time celebrating with cousins and frinds and I loved watching her happy, smiling face.
During the cupcake and present part, I was proud of how grateful Ava was for each present she received. When she had opened them, she went around the room with hugs and thanks for those who gave her the gifts. Then after the swimming, when everyone was putting on their shoes in the entryway of the pool, I saw her hugging her friends again and saying, "Goodbye, thanks for coming!" Those are some good parenting moments to store up in the soul for the lean times. You watch with a proud lump in your throat, amazed that your baby has turned into this friendly, happy girl with friends in her own right.
At bedtime, both kids (and parents) were tired. I went into Ava's room to wish her one last happy birthday and talk about her day. I could tell that she was upset by looking at her face. I asked what was wrong. She began to cry and said, "Right when we got in the pool, I looked around and I was having lots of fun, but I knew it was almost over, and I'd never have another 7 year old birthday party..."
She cried it all out, and I held her close, and when the tears were finished we talked about how we must enjoy each experience to its fullest, because we can't make it last, except in our memories. I asked her what she remembers from her previous birthday parties, so we listed them all - rubber ducky, favourite things, princess, farm, build-a-bear, High School Musical and swim party - and she had specific memories from each one. I explained that those memories become part of who she is; they form her, remind her of how loved she is, and give her a foundation for her to transition into adulthood.
All of life is like that. We look forward to events, enjoy them when they arrive, and then feel sad when they are over. But we don't want to get stuck there in the sadness, because in order to become a good memory we must stay in the moment and soak up the experience so we can recall it clearly in the future. For Ava to realize that it was almost over and she wouldn't get it again, tells me she is growing up. A good thing, to be sure, but also tinged with sadness, because growing up means leaving all of the innocence of childhood behind.