For my daughter’s birthday this year, she requested she have a “star” party. When I asked what that meant, she couldn’t really articulate. I told her we could do it, though at the time, I didn’t know what to do. I knew I would have to get creative, but I enjoy creating. The only issue is I’m doing so while eight months pregnant. I’ve had to get creative with my time, too.
If I wasn’t pregnant, I would have made most of the decorations on my own. But due to fatigue, I spent a day, while she was at school, at Party City, walking the aisles, searching for possible star decorations. I was able to find hanging stars, star balloons, cardboard star cutouts, and a star piñata. All in the same whimsical red, blue, green, and gold. Thank goodness.
Every child’s party needs activities. So, I made a “pin-the-tail-on-the-shooting star” game (I couldn’t not create something). I’m decorating the tables with brown paper that we’ll stamp with star shapes. Even some of the snacks will be cut into the shape of stars. The cake, which I’ve asked This Sisters’ Sweets to design, will be decked in stars, as well.
As I type this all out, it feels like star overload. But I can’t help but want to go big. It’s the last birthday party my daughter will have before her baby brother is born. I want her to know even though this new life is entering our family, she’s loved just as much, and will always be our firstborn.
As I’ve spoken with other parents and grandparents, I know jealousy will be experienced by my daughter after the baby is born. It’s inevitable. And while I’m afraid my actions toward creating the party are my way of trying to protect her from having to experience difficult emotions, I acknowledge that whatever she feels after his birth is valid and must be allowed, no matter how hard it might be to watch.
Just the other day, I had a past hurt arise I wasn’t even aware was still hanging around in my heart. My first instinct, my bodily reaction, was to panic. Fight or flight kicked in, a coping mechanism I clung to in the past. But as I laid there in bed, I realized I knew I needed to experience it. How else was it to escape from my spirit and dissipate into the bedroom air? I thanked God for that moment. Difficult emotions are not harmful. They’re necessary.
While I continue to prepare for the “star” party, I’m trying to take it easy. I’m trying to let go of perfection. Perhaps that’s what I need to do this Lent season. Not only for myself, but for my family as well. We are all trying to cope with this new situation that will be here before we know it. And we all deserve to process it healthily.
Justa Lanie Garrett is a lifelong resident of Baytown.