Then I became a parent and I find myself crying at birthday parties and clutching childhood artwork like my life is dependent on my ability to successfully preserve it for all of time. I also may or may not sneak into their rooms occasionally and rub their feet and butts like I used to when they were babies.
So when Jackson turned 7, I was kind of a mess. I think he was pretty thankful that I didn't cry all day. I only really teared up in the morning when he came to wake me up (as he does every morning) and as I started to sing a choked up version of "happy birthday" to him, he says, "Oh mom. Just because I'm 7 and you're getting a new baby, I will still be your baby boy and you can still bite my toes."
Cue sob fest.
I was also worried about not throwing a big party this year. Our family tradition is that after age 6, we don't do big parties anymore. It's too many kids, too much stress, and too expensive. This was going to be the first year for Jackson not having a party. Last year I went all out and threw a Minion party for him and it was seriously the best ever. I really thought it was my last kid party ever so I went big. Maybe too big? Because it's kind of become a thing of legend where other kids heard about it so all were super excited to get invited to his party THIS year. Which uh... awkward. Really awkward explaining to kids that we weren't doing a big party. Which then made Jackson feel sad and it totally backfired on me.
So this year I compromised. Olivia usually gets to do a sleep over, but because I'm not sleeping as it is, I told Jackson in lieu of a sleepover, he could invited two friends and we'd take them to Adventure Zone. Which is like our local version of a Chuck E. Cheese. Just as expensive, but with laser tag.
Jackson on his "birthday celebration day" at school.
He immediately knew he wanted to invite his friends Masen and Lila with him and so I got everything all set up. Olivia got invited to a friend's birthday for the same day/time so we were missing her but knew she was probably having way more fun swimming than hanging out with a bunch of first graders.
Apparently, he talks about chasing her with his Nerf guns a lot at school. HA!
So after Adventure Zone, we dropped his friends off and picked up his sister. I told him on Saturday it would be super low key but we'd have cake. On Friday, my parents surprised him with birthday gifts (since my dad would be out of town on Saturday) and the big hit was clearly his pocket knife. He got the safety run down and he knows he can't use it without dad or grandpa and it stays on dad's dresser. He's pretty much a rule follower so I don't anticipate this being an issue. But he took it pretty seriously that he was big boy enough to get one. Then he got some cook new Lego railroad tracks for the train they got him for Christmas, and more Snap Circuits to go with a set Santa brought at Christmas. By the end of the night, I had a train going around furniture and things flashing and flying into the air in my dining room!
But Saturday was also the egg hunt at the zoo, so Matt's parents agreed to take both kids because we couldn't afford to take them. While they were gone, I got an impromptu party started for him as a surprise.
OK, enough sap.
Birthday boy and his sister post presents.
Well, he managed after a couple of tries. HA!
Overall, I think he had a pretty great birthday. We didn't do a large party with friends, but he got plenty of birthday fun and I think he knew how loved he was.
I'll tell you, I don't think I was fully ready for how much I was going to love this little boy. I loved my Olivia to the moon, but I had no idea how much my heart would want to burst when Jackson was born. I don't know why, and I can't fully explain it, but the bond I have with Jackson is so much different than the one I have with Olivia. Maybe because he's an absolutely mama's boy, maybe it's his personality and always wanting to snuggle and always trying to take care of me, but this kid... you can't help but love him and want to keep him for your own. He's just a love bug to the fullest. It's been an absolute joy to be his mama, I can't wait to watch him grow.