I was like most parents during the early weeks of the pandemic in creating activities to keep my four children busy. I had a little more down time to reflect about life and family. It hit me how rushed we all had been balancing as I balanced life as a full-time teacher, school for them, after school extracurricular activities, and etc. I was in a baking mood since having down time thinking about something different to create for dessert one evening. I decided since I was in the kitchen to play around making a multicolored cake with the colors pink and blue. My 7 year old decided to add candles on our brightly colored cake. My son is the only one next to me that can use a lighter in the house lit the candles. All four sat around the glowing cake mountain of pink and blue to blow out the candles. I couldn’t help but to snap a picture of a moment so accidentally precious in it’s reflection of their missed birthdays together this year.
My son has lived with my first husband since he was 11 years old. It was a decision we made as parents through our joint custody agreement. I always shared birthdays with my son here at home until this transition which made it a bit tricky with his birthdays falling on weekdays while I juggled work as a full-time teacher. The small town of his father’s residence is a little over 53 miles from me. We don’t live in the same city making hindering a quick stop for visits, meetings, and celebrations. I oftentimes take the day off to do a pop-up lunch with him at school, awards programs, or I will get off with his sisters joining me a little earlier from work to make to his football games. There are some games that are a little further in unfamiliar smaller towns that we go to in supporting him. His 14th birthday fell on a game day out of town in the boondocks in a area I had no clue existed. He was so excited about that game, he talked on the phone each night to me leading up to the game sharing that it was on his birthday. I made it through prayer and GPS to this wooded area with his three sisters and balloons. He discovered us from the field waving pointing to his teammates mouthing, ” That’s my mama!” The extra gift other than his sisters bomb rushing the field to give him a birthday hug was that his team won the game.
There is always a scheduling conflict in co-parenting, but there is a more pronounced conflict in co-parenting arrangements with two exs. All the kids birthdays fell doing the week for the past few years, so the weekends were my usual time to have everyone together to re-celebrate. This past year was tricker because my son’s birthday weekend fell on the day my daughters would be with their father, my eldest daughter’s birthday fell similar on the one weekend where my son would be with his father with the my daughters being scheduled to be with their father. I know it’s confusing. It’s an extra challenge because all of us are working professionals and we all live a long distance away. My daughters’ father lives over two hours away. We all make it work with no fuss. Our personal lives differ in not everyone being able to schedule off for a huge Kumbya birthday celebration with all parents and kids at the house. My daughters and I take the drive to see my son after school each year for his birthday since he moved the distance to live with his father. There are moments where it works like my son’s 10th birthday which was an army theme in him having all parents ( bonus parents to) , his older siblings from his father’s side, and his younger siblings ( his sisters) from my side. It was a fantastic party outdoors with army games. I never argue if my ex husband asks to take our son out for a one on one guys night to celebrate because he never considered him as a stepson.
I teared up as they blew out the candles in the midst of me remodeling our home in backdrop. It was like they were celebrating their united birthday in a make-up for the year all while enduring a pandemic. I pray that they never forget that moment. I pray that they know despite their parents’ history or past that they are loved fiercely by all of us, and that their birthdays are indeed special to us as a family. Happy do over birthday P4. Eat as much cake as you like!