When we first opened the crinkled white envelope, breaths held in electric suspense, I couldn’t help but dart a furtive glance downwards as a hesitant Eli read the letters before the gathered room: ‘G…I…R…L’.
I had secretly held out hope for such a possibility, trying not to allow too much to collect in the promise, but it was there – blooming…hidden. Even the moments prior to our first meeting – that warm weight of beating life placed ceremoniously upon my chest – I closed my eyes, waiting for that final confirmation, half-convinced it had all been a mistake, a crossing of wires – an incompetent technician’s hesitancy feeding the confusion.
Ivy Olivia has been everything I could have pictured, and far, far more. Her darting, clever eyes sizing up a situation in seconds. The dimpled, cheeky grin that stunts even the most severe of lectures. Her warm, attentive care of her babies, her love of playing ‘adults’, the impetuous way she scrunches up her nose when she declares ‘I ANGEE at you!’. She has her own accent and funny mispronunciations of words, Eli becomes ‘Ah-li‘ and Hudson ‘Hudsom‘ in her lilting tones.
We didn’t plan on throwing another January party.
Throwing around ideas about city trips and other adventures, nothing quite fell easily into place so we returned to the tried and true. A princess party. A high tea fit for a royal was my self-imposed brief and I began scouring for ideas – decadent, delicious, drenched in chocolate.
In many ways the allure and sheer magnitude of it helped fill out the week I had eyed with some trepidation as Dave’s holiday time drew to a close – two whole weeks of wrangling four by myself. I had become accustomed to the flexibility and ease of team parenting – taking it in turns to escape for some breathing space, one taking the big kids, the other manning the fort for nap times. I knew that this lasting forever was far too good to be true, but I readied myself for the sting of the change.
And then it didn’t come.
We threw ourselves instead into baking projects for the party – dark chocolate fudge one day, blinis the next, cookie dough truffles, baklava, peach iced tea, jellies, tiramisu. Bit by bit it came together, our shared enthusiasm becoming greater as the fridge burgeoned with special treats, the burlap bunting sweeping low overhead.
Ivy squealed with delight whenever she caught sight of something new, counting down the days eagerly. ‘I a pincess‘ she would say dreamily, head cocked to the side, costume skirts trailing on the floor behind her and her well-loved teddy.
The day dawned oppressively hot. I set out fine bone china tea cups in lament, knowing only the most avid tea-drinkers would be willing to partake in such stifling weather. The ice disappeared before our eyes, sweat beaded on every brow, the overworked wall unit huffing desperately to keep up. ‘Door!’ was shrieked crossly every time the kids stepped over the threshold, the oven-like gust sweeping greedily throughout the darkened room.
I blame Pinterest. The plethora of ideas for delectable treats so tempting and my inspiration to add more ideas grew daily. ‘What a great time to try making muffuletta‘, I mused. ‘Oh and those turkey skewers would be a great alternative to finger sandwiches…Let’s have fairy bread hearts, with edible coloured sugar glitter, and sugar dipped marshmallows with cupcake wrapper skirts, raspberry jellies with custard, sausage roll pinwheels, smoked trout and dill cream blinis… And the cake shall be a castle – towering and covered with rich buttercream frosting. Moody and haunting, like Milderhurst castle in The Distant Hours‘ (the audio book that was my fitting soundtrack to the week’s preparations).
Others were swept into the magic of planning as well – with kind-hearted offers to bring lolly tea-cups, freshly baked scones with jam and cream, plump cherries and decadently-dipped strawberries along.
Somehow, bit by bit it all came together. Family and friends streamed through the door, breathing a sigh of relief to have escaped the scorching temperatures outside. We gathered around the table – sampling, laughing, chatting. Little eyes wide with the anticipation of a sugar coma to come.
Ivy loved (almost) every minute – eyes wide with hungry curiosity whenever a wrapped parcel made its way into her open hands. When asked how old she was, she declared with the confidence of a sophisticate: ‘I am five‘. The time sped by, children spellbound as usual by the pied piper tones of Dave. It was chaotic, dramatic and fun.
A very contented girl was tucked under her new princess quilt cover that night, room brimming with the generosity of family and friends. My body sagged under the weight of exhaustion, having finally reached the other side – mind no longer racing through lists and tasks. The silence was welcoming, peaceful. Mission complete.
You are hope materialised, a dream brought to life.
I marvel at you, my girl – so quick to grasp ideas, mind ripe for mischief, that glint in your eyes glimmering as you assert your ideas, holding your own against strong-minded brothers already with uncanny ease.
I treasure your requests for cuddles, your queries as to whether I have a lap so that you can curl up for a moment, feline in your artful grace and stare up into my eyes, yours belying your few short years on this earth.
You possess fire. Determination. A tempest that can blaze blindingly if stoked. Use this well, dear one. Harness it as the passion that births beauty, creativity, life.
I am in awe of your beauty, your depth, your vitality. To watch you create art with your fingertips is already a pleasure of mine – your hands confident in their strokes, skill blossoming effortlessly more everyday. Despite my constant lament of your failure to ‘cap the textas’, know that I would happily furnish you with an endless supply in a heartbeat.
I love, love, love you beautiful one. You make my soul sing.