We’ve all climbed into our bed, Oscar the dog and all. Beyond exhausted, in that sleepy-but-happy mood that comes at the end of a well-worn day, we all settle in to snuggle as a family. Mickey’s playing in the background as E.V. nestles into Ryan’s side and lays her head on his chest. She’s out almost instantly, but as I see her fading, I lean over and I whisper to Emma Vance how proud I was of her today, how well she had helped, how wonderful a big sister she was on Cricket’s birthday. (It’s not easy having to play second fiddle when you’re three. Especially when you love to be the life of the party.) I lean back once I’ve told her all the things I want her to hear, and she’s out instantly. Say the things you want to fearlessly and without hesitation, I’m reminded.
Cricket takes longer. Her three-hour nap this afternoon has given her a bit of evening longevity–and all the cake hasn’t hurt either. So she’s being silly, hiding under the covers, asking me a dozen times if there are alligators out there. No, dear, still no alligators. But she doesn’t believe me and stays hidden in blankety safety for a while, babbling on about birds and Peppa Pig and our neighbors. And then slowly it falls silent in the room, and my family is asleep.
Ryan’s softly snoring on the far side of the bed. Emma Vance is down to her princess undies, curled up on him, clutching one of Cricket’s birthday presents, a mermaid. I’m stuck in the middle of my girls with Oscar at my feet, unable to move but content. Cricket’s passed out next to me, co-sleeping with her new babydoll, still in her party dress–which made it through the morning shindig, afternoon naps and an evening Easter egg hunt. And then, even for bed time, she refused to take it off. I didn’t argue. She doesn’t want to let go of the moment and of the excitement I suppose, and I can’t blame her. It was her party, so I’m going to let her soak it in as long as she wants.
I wiggle out of bed to throw (another) load of tablecloths into the dryer. There’s stuff everywhere–torn-open gifts, discarded flowers, bags of trash, a sink full of dishes, piles of miniature birds and berry bins and picnic baskets waiting to be shuffled down to the basement. I glance at a cupcake overturned on the kitchen counter, and I feel a tinge inside. But I push down my inner Monica Gellar. It can wait until tomorrow, I remind myself. The mess will always be waiting for me, but my snuggly, sleepy family won’t. So I slip back into bed, feeling bewildered that Cricket is two, pleased that she loved her party this morning, and exhausted from making my vision for her celebration come to life. But mostly I feel exhausted. ;)
Happy party day, my sweet, slumbering two-year old! Happy birthday, Cricket!
(More pictures coming front the ever-talented Carrie Tabb, although these few are amazing enough!)