As I type, I am sitting on the floor in a hotel room, watching through the door to the adjoining room as my daughter and seven of her closest friends watch a movie. I have to say, never in my life could I imagine that I would allow such a thing. A two month early birthday party in a hotel? With pizza and expensive fruit and veggie trays from the grocery store and a hotel on-demand movie that cost $13.99? What sort of spoiled child am I raising? But then I look at the bigger picture and just hope that somehow this is going to create a good memory to offset all that she puts up with because her dad is in the Navy.
The reason we are in a hotel is because we're mid-PCS. The truck left our house yesterday. I don't think we've ever taken advantage of TLE before, but I am about done with sleeping on the floor, plus our sleeping bags are gone and we certainly weren't going to put them in our suitcases full of clothes that need to last two months.
I have two daughters with August birthdays, and it is always a problem when moving. We've handled it all sorts of different ways: we've had birthdays while living in empty houses, we've had slightly early birthdays on our last days in town, we've come back from new homes to celebrate birthdays in old home towns. Daughter #2 asked us months ago if we could celebrate her birthday before we left because she was worried about not having friends "in a new place where she doesn't even speak the language." She's pretty good at the guilt thing.
We looked at the calendar, the 29 going away events, and the end-of-school events, and the packing events, and determined that this was the only date available. We discussed having it in our empty house but I was not in favor of that plan (you know, wood floors and no sleeping bags. Not to mention the echos of eight 10 year old girls squealing in an empty house.) At the time, it seemed perfectly sensible that we could have them in our hotel rooms. Since there are six of us, we already have to get two rooms. Surely we could squeeze a few more in. How hard could it be?
Imagine my surprise when all 7 invitees called to accept the invitation. Wow - we never get that attendance when we celebrate in August! The logistics started getting a little more challenging, but my in-laws are staying in the same hotel and offered to take our other children, plus my mom is nearby and said that she'd be happy to take kids as well. Ever optimistic, we forged on with this all important party.
We moved into the hotel late last night after the packers finally got those last few items on the truck. Our four kids were over-tired and cranky, and it was not a good night for our family. They bickered and complained and touched each other for ages before finally falling asleep. As I stumbled through our busy morning, I thought to myself, "there is no way I can do this tonight."
Thankfully, my perceptive husband send me back for a nap while he took the kids to the pool. After a little sleep, a plan came together. We've got everyone outside of the birthday party sleeping elsewhere, we took pizza and veggies to the pool until they kicked us out, and now the birthday party is watching a movie and hopefully getting tired. However, it has taken the cooperation of two sides of grandparents, a generous pool community who didn't balk when I showed up with six non-member kids, and a huge amount of effort by all sorts of people to make this happen.
I have a really smart friend who happily puts forth these efforts to make sure that her kids have a huge bank of happy family (and friend-family) memories to bolster them when times are tough. I keep reminding myself that this will be one of my child's last memories of this duty station and hopefully it will counteract the memories of being dragged away, again, from her friends. I think the effort is worth it, even if she doesn't see how much effort it is now. It will be interesting to see how she looks back at this when she gets older, and whether she'll recognize how much we were giving because we knew how much she was giving. I guess we will see.