We’ve been planning toddler girl’s 3rd birthday party recently, it’s the first year we’re doing a real party with other kids as opposed to just taking the grandparents to the ‘local’ for lunch. Don’t worry, this isn’t some sponsored post about the best bouncy castle/soft play package to hire or the pros and cons of Jo Jingles vs Tumble Tots (I don’t do that kind of thing). No, this is about classic mortification, specifically my own. I reckon its about time I wrote about something a bit light-hearted, as my husband commented on my last post “are you ever going to write about something happy?!”
I decided I had to write about this because as birthdays approach I always look back at her 1st and shudder with embarrassment. But enough’s enough, its time to lay it all out (so to speak) and have done with it. So, picture the perfect party scene: grandparents, in-laws, nearest and dearest assembled in our living room just finishing off the M&S platters and getting into the prosecco. My husband had hooked up his laptop to the TV so we could show a few photos of her first year, get all sentimental, and generally do lots of oohing and aahing. It was beautiful, a series of memories showing the highlights of the year that had gone by in a fog of sleepless nights and figuring out the logistics of life with a small person.
Then, all of a sudden, there it was. The photo I knew was buried somewhere in the endless folders of pics, the photo I was assured wouldn’t come up. A close up of me, topless, cradling my 2 day old daughter as I’d just finished another (failed) attempt at breast feeding. OMFG. In fairness it was quite a tender moment we’d captured, however the angle wasn’t great and my post birth boobs were literally staring straight at us. Definitely not something I wished to share with my family, least of all men in their 70s. As I felt the blood drain from my body and my jaw slowly fall open and silently mouth the word “fuuuuuck” my husband frantically hit every key on the laptop to close it down, and ended up throwing himself at the TV to block the screen and turn it off at the wall (it’s only now as I write this do I think ‘where was the bastard remote?’). It sounds funny now, but fuck me was it mortifying at the time. Just looking people in the eye afterwards was a challenge. Reactions ranged from the male attendees laughing (just adding the humiliation) to my aunt-in-law pretending she hadn’t even seen it!
Her birthday has now been and gone and I’ve managed to start her third year without any of my lady parts being flashed to close family members. I must admit I felt a bit uneasy before her party started, a kind of impending sense of dread about what might happen this year, or what embarrassment might befall me. When it came to carrying the cake over for her to blow out the candles, and finding myself surrounded by hyped up toddlers all wanting to get at the cake I thought “here we go, I’m going to set a kid’s hair on fire!” But no, thankfully the happy birthday song didn’t conclude with a trip to A&E for anyone. A few of the parents commented during the general round of small talk “ah so this is our life now, kids parties!” “oh yes” I agreed, nodding enthusiastically, but actually thinking “fucking hell, really?!”. Dry sausage rolls, lack of booze, and trying to stop your kid from dive bombing off the bouncy castle aside, a life of parties isn’t so bad. And, at least there’s cake.