When Phoebe first started pre-school I started a ritual. I’d pick her up after school every Friday (my day off from work) and take her and Abby to lunch at our local diner. Every time I’d walk into the classroom the teacher would say the same thing: “Phoebe! Look who’s here! It’s mommy!” I should note that this was about six or seven years ago, during the golden era of the Working Mother Manifesto — I was probably reading I Don’t Know How She Does it with my morning coffee and falling asleep with Perfect Madness splayed across my chest. So the way the teacher’s greeting registered in my overly sensitive ears was more like this: “Well I’ll be! Look who decided to show up today!? It’s your Mommy, Phoebe! Can you believe it?” Had I been a little less self-involved it might not have taken me four months to notice that she greeted all the parents with the exact same line.
But that was four months after the Friday Phoebe said to me in between bites of her diner grilled cheese,”Mom, I love Fridays. They feel more special to me than other days.”
“I know what you mean,” I told her. “I feel the same way.” Then I ate a fry and my heart began its rapid descent to dark, paranoid places. Hold it a second. Why exactly does she think Friday is so special? Cause I’m home? Cause we’re eating lunch together? Since when is Mom’s presence considered a special occasion? Is this bad? Is our diner ritual calling even more attention to the fact that I’m abandoning her the other four days of the week? What am I setting myself up for here?
And that was it for our ritual. From that point on — or at least until I matured a bit — the goal for Friday was to make it as routine as every other weekday. Lunch at home. Nap. Maybe a playdate. Let’s keep “special” where it belongs — on holidays, anniversaries, birthdays.
Birthdays. Maybe this is why in our house they are now more appropriately described as birthweeks. Because after the annual monogrammed pancake ritual (above), the classroom party, the “Pick a Country, Any Country” dinner ritual, the party for their friends, the party with their grandparents, and the sleepover with cousins after the party, we’ve logged some serious hours celebrating. So this week, since Abby is turning 7, you’ll be reading about the various ways I like to overcompensate for my maternal shortcomings make a bonafide special day…special. And then, I promise you, we’ll be right back to the everyday routine.
Monogrammed Birthday Pancakes
Fry up a nice stack of pancakes using your favorite recipe or mix. (We use a mix of Trader Joe’s buttermilk and Trader Joe’s Multi-Grain.) Monogram the top one with squeezable icing and decorate with appropriate number of candles. Note: you should probably not do this with piping hot pancakes because it might cause the candle bottoms to melt a bit into the top cake. If this does happen, just surgically remove the affected areas.