Make Your Child’s Birth Date a Time to Stop and Smell!


Slow down to celebrate with your little one!

Maybe I’m different from most parents, but I love children’s birthday parties. I love hosting them and I love attending them. I feel they help us busy parents slow down and celebrate another year of life that God gave us with our children.

(Side note: when your children are very young, like the first birthday, I also think it’s thanking God for a year of life and ALSO celebrating what that mama has done all year – lol!)

(When your kids get a bit older, you’ll start to see why moms go all Pinterest about birthdays because then your child starts to “get into” their birthday party and theme. Samson seems to talk about his next birthday party and the theme EVERY SINGLE DAY, 365 DAYS A YEAR. When he was age two, I remember “practicing” for his party each day by singing the “Happy Birthday song” as fast as possible at our kitchen table and then letting him blow out a Yankee vanilla candle. Hee, hee!)

But as much as I love children’s birthday parties, I’ve begun to enjoy their actual birthday even more. Instead of the chaotic happiness of 20 children running around, it’s a simple day in our house of celebrating that child and thanking God for another year of life with them.

Samson was born July 2 so we were at the hospital over July 4th weekend, due to a gritty 52-hour labor from birthing center with midwife to hospital on drugs. Our little firecracker baby started things off with a bang! Since it was a holiday weekend, most of the staff was foreign with heavy accents (more on the hilarious nursing instructions to me, the new mom, by a heavy-accent lactation consultant in my book below – hee, hee!)

Yesterday we celebrated, privately as a family, Samson’s 5th birth date at home. (I CAN’T BELIEVE WE HAVE BEEN PARENTS FOR FIVE YEARS!!!!) Two-year-old Esther and I entered his bedroom singing the Happy Birthday song and pulling back his racecar-themed black and white checkered curtains to let the morning sun seep through on this happiest of days.

Samson’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. “I’m FIVE! I’m WEALLY big, now! And, and, and I’m BIGGER THAN ESTHER.”

Well, yes. Yes, you are.

I let him choose his own shirt to wear BECAUSE IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY! Huge smile and he choose a ninja turtle t-shirt.

I let him choose breakfast BECAUSE IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY! Huge smile and he choose waffles.

We hung the two-dollar, multi-color happy birthday banner in the kitchen that we hang for every family member’s birthday and then left for Target to buy ingredients to make a cake. That’s the only thing we had to buy and I love shopping trips like this: just to make a memory.

Sometimes when I’m taking the kids on normal errands, I get upset and impatient at spills, interruptions, messes and discipline because they are messing up MY PLANS. But just-for-fun trips like this help me put on a different parenting mindset. This is 100% to have fun with my kids and build our relationship. We tired mamas need it as much as they do!

“Wheeeeeere is it? Wheeeeeeeere is the cake aisle? HERE IT IS!” I gasp, as if we just entered Disneyworld. I slowly showed Samson all the cake mixes and frosting containers. (We were going total anti-organic/healthy and full-on processed – hurrah for a tired pregnant mama and ease for a just-five-year-old chef!)

ninjaAfter careful deliberation, my precious white-haired boy choose a white cake with confetti and dutch chocolate icing. (I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit just writing that combination – lol!) But WHO CARES?!!?! It’s his birthday!

We zipped our grocery cart over to the party supplies and nabbed some ninja turtle cake plates and napkins then headed to the express lane to check out. Samson asked if he could have a bag of those ill-placed processed food snacks at a child’s eye level. You know my answer by now: SURE! IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY! I reveled in watching my children chomp the ultimate unhealthy snack with orange faces. What a happy, happy day!

At home, Samson cracked the eggs in the mixing bowl while I swiped out egg shells after each one with my finger. Yes, it took a lot longer with a much bigger mess for Samson to make his cake, but that smile when it was done? PRICELESS.

When Dave returned home later that day, he took Samson to buy his birthday present: a big, “real” ninja turtle bicycle and hilarious/hideous turtle bicycle helmet. (Please don’t laugh at him if you see him riding down the street). Then our tiny family gathered around our wood kitchen table to sing happy birthday.

As Dave popped five candles into the chocolate icing, my pregnant eyes welled with tears. “Honey!” I burst out. “Can you believe our baby boy is five!” I grabbed Samson to my chest in a fierce, emotional hug. Dave grabbed the lighter and laughed, “Leah! We’ve been parents FIVE YEARS.”

Then, in a delicious ordinary, extraordinary moment, we all sang. Samson beamed in his chair holding up his hand to remind us he was five the whole song. Esther sucked her little thumb in my lap. We all ate the cake and went swimming our pool afterwards.

Maybe you can do something special on your child’s birthday to “stop and smell” the gift of parenthood. It’s so easy to plow through each day when you are a tired, overwhelmed parent of young children. I know I do! Try finding things like birthdays to help pull you out of caretaker mode and into a different, fun parenting perspective.

Happy 5th birthday, sweet Samson!


Want more stories like this? Pre-order my new book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years now on Amazon here or on my site here.


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