Today is my birthday. 29. (Insert insincere comment about how young I look here - thanks for noticing, etc.)
Normally my birthday would involve waking, after a lie in, fresh faced and bushy tailed, to embark upon a carnival of shopping and visitors and meals out and congratulations and general fuss in my expectant direction.
But on my 29th birthday, it's different. I'm a Mum. A Mum with a daughter who's birthday, who's first birthday, falls only FOUR DAYS after my own. Winner.
Consequently, having been in work the last few days, there is a large amount of STUFF TO BE DONE in preparation for Boo's Big Bash.
A year ago, I had visions of this huge first birthday week long marathon of festival excellence. I scorned parents who did not celebrate their child's each and every year; tooth loss; increase in shoe size.
And now it's here. And being all organised and bouncy and commemorative and triumphantly merry-making has panned out to be a big massive effort that The Poop will never remember, and quite frankly, I will never be truly thanked for. So why bother?
My lazy self (which represents, conservatively, 80% of who I am) keeps punching the irritating do-gooder in me (20% - though realistically 8% if you take into account the 12% total apathy I also carry round in my psyche) full force in the face, yet still that plucky little halo polishing swine keeps coming back for more. So I find myself where I am now. Spending a bloody fortune we haven't got on party decorations and buffet we can't afford while moaning and whinging about having to be bothered and sapping the joy out of the whole experience for all involved.
Mid-way through angrily rooting about on eBay for the cheapest packs of stereotypically pink plastic cups which have free postage and packing, I experienced a moment of clarity. A vision of how things could be. A flash of lucidity which can come to define a person.
I decided to ENJOY THIS.
No, no, just give it a minute. Hear me out.
Deep in my heart, of hearts, of hearts, of hearts, is this God-awful maternal instinct. It stops me drinking wine and reading celebrity magazines in the bath when should be feeding my daughter. It makes me assess every table/cupboard/chair/fireplace for sharp corners and splinter-ability. It makes me cook when I can't; watch The Wiggles when I'd rather put my head in the oven; scrape poo off items that clearly need to go in the bin.
It MAKES ME DO THE RIGHT THING.
Which is why I find myself planning a birthday party I really can't be arsed with. Don't be mistaken, I love a good party, just not when it involves any effort on my part. And even more to the point, I love The Poop, which is precisely why I don't want to share her with a room full of well-wishers, who have their hearts set on costing me time and money by eating my food and spilling drinks on my carpet. Especially when Betty is quite likely to decide that, actually, she doesn't want to be passed around amongst all these people, and gradually, becoming more tired and more cranky, suddenly wheels out a massive paddy which involves things getting broken and the raising of a large number of guests eyebrows. I will try to ignore the chorus of tuts.
Yet despite all this impending doom, that stupid maternal instinct (which has got a damn sight to answer for) that has crept up on me over the last year means this party WILL happen. I will fart about putting up decorations no-one cares about and be up until 4:00am assembling stupid bloody cardboard party favour boxes that, on the day, I'll forget to give out.
So, I had a revelation.
WHY. NOT. ENJOY IT.
So here goes.
This week, for my beautiful daughter Betty's first birthday, we are having a 'Ladybird' themed birthday party. There will be family, friends and babies present. There will be music and party games and presents and food. My daughter will be blissfully happy and everyone will swoon and coo at what a gorgeous party we've put on and tell me what an amazing mother I am.
And I will...ENJOY it. Mostly. Probably. Where ever straw-clutchingly possible.
Then they can all sod off home and I can have my little girl and my husband all to myself again...bugger. That just slipped out. Sorry.
I've got a few days to practise. I'll have the fun factor down pat by then. Actually you know what?
I can't guarantee that, but amid the stress and the last minute and the tablecloths and the hoovering, I will try not to shout at people.
And I will definitely wear the right face throughout.