Sunday, February 6, 2011

Birthday Monthiversaries

If you've looked at my 40 for 40 tab, you may have noticed number thirty-two: "Make Birthdays more special" - let me give you a little background. I did not grow up with big, fantastic birthday celebrations. We usually got to choose our favorite dinner meal, my mom would make it, and we'd get to take the day off from our chores. Although we each had a couple of big birthdays, it was tough to go all out in a family of 6 kids.

Usually we give our kids a budget that includes their birthday gift and allow them to plan their celebration. It's been interesting to see how they choose to spend their time and money, and I don't think there's anything wrong with letting them still have a hand in planning the festivities.

But in recent years, I've felt a disconnect from my kids. I'm not sure how it happened, but bit by bit I've felt that crack widen to a crevice to a small ravine and I want it to stop before it becomes a canyon or crevasse. Maybe I can trace the origins back to the separation during cancer treatments and surgeries for both Ty and I - all that time away from them, handing off the baton of childcare to Mr. O and extended family - but it doesn't really matter how it began, I'd like to mend it up and build some bridges across the gap.
One of the ideas I have, I know got its start from one of the blogs I read (please forgive me, I can't remember whose). Over the course of the year, we are spending time each month on or about the monthiversary date of each child's birthday with them - on a date with mom or dad or both.

Sometimes that date will be a quick run for ice cream, a dinner out, a trip to the bookstore or library, or sometimes it may just be going for a long walk with Copper. The idea is that it doesn't have to be some big event, but lots of opportunities for reconnections, for bridge building.

Last night was Ty's turn and since he's just had hip injections and is still feeling a bit sore to go out, I put the iPod on the speakers, turned it to Yanni (which I just discovered makes him laugh excitedly) and climbed up on his bed with him. Together we danced to the music, he grabbed my left arm with both hands and bounced it in time to the music, or just held my right hand.

Later, I pulled out a unicorn lollipop and gave him tastes of that alternated with sips of water (through a syringe). When we'd chilled sufficiently to Yanni, I switched over to our old standby Queen and broke out the Dr Pepper. He loved it and kept signing for more, I guess it's a genetic thing - this love for the Dr.

We snapped some photos and then Mr. O climbed up there and we broke out the fireworks app on the phone. You should've seen Ty go crazy with his fingers, drawing all over the place. We really should get him an iPad so he has a chance at seeing his handiwork but I'm afraid I'd have to chain it to his bed to keep the kids from losing it.

It was his night, and I think he had a great time. What do you do to stay connected with your kids?


Tebbs Family said...

What a happy birthday for Ty and a fun re-connect!!! Things change for us each year depending on the child, the circumstance, etc. but we do watch the individual child's birth video and other early toddler videos of them together as a family the Sunday before their birthday (for FHE) to celebrate their birth into our family. Every child loves to see themself, year after year...

Kimberly said...

This comes in ebbs and waves for me, the closeness and the not-so-closeness. For us it's cuddles and stories and music and dancing.

Lindsey Johnson said...

I think that is so awesome. I want to do more of this with my kids.

Happy Birthday to Ty!

Loralee and the gang... said...

This is a great idea! We usually spend the week of our kid's birthdays with celebreations - a kid's party, family sunday party, and maybe an excurision somewhere. Nothing that costs much money at all, though.

Emma J said...

I love this idea - and I love seeing the love in your faces in these pictures! And you know what I also love? The quiet idea behind it all - that as mothers we don't have to get it 100% right every day and year of our children's lives. We can pick up and improve whenever we notice it. It's the seeing a gap/chasm and moving to fill it that makes a good mother.

radioactive girl said...

What a great birthday tradition.

I actually love that you give the kids a budget and let them choose how to spend their time and money. I love things that let the kids be in control, and this is percect. Spending a date with mom or dad alone is pretty awesome too.

Elizabeth-W said...

Shad would be rolling on the floor laughing about the Yanni thing--you know, because Yanni is funny to him, too.
But I think Yanni is sexy when the sound is turned down.

myimaginaryblog said...

Wow, that sounds so ambitious. I can't imagine finding time for a date with each kid each month; and yet, I do wish I would do fun things with them individually more regularly than I do. Maybe I need to aim for quarterly, or something like that.

myimaginaryblog said...

But reading again, if I keep it simple, surely I have 5 days a month to do things with my kids individually? It doesn't feel like it, but it ought to be so. I'm going to have to give this more thought.

M-Cat said...

Great job mom.

With my kids older now, I randomly and spur of the moment take them to lunch.

With Sissy - ever day is a 'connected day"
Her connected at my hip