For a five year old, what day could be better than a birthday, or for that matter, birthdays! The past week was filled with several celebrations of my daughter Hadley's fifth birthday. Saturday, Hadley had a big birthday party at the famous Monkey Joe's. It is the pinnacle of party places for the pre-school set that my daughter runs with. An amazing place, Monkey Joe's, and I reflected as I watched the kids continue to pour in as the day went on, why didn't I think of this? Seriously, it is amazing how these birthday centers have grown over the past few years. Monkey Joe's, Bounce U, Gymboree, and many others, stay busy entertaining the young kids and making them the star of their day.
While the party at Monkey Joe's was impressive, the birthday celebration with the most meaning occurred at my wife's grandparents' place in Jackson County.
My wife Laura's family is close knit and spans four generations. Along with her maternal grandparents, she has five aunts and uncles and many first cousins. Now the new generation of children seems to grow by one or two each year! These folks are very loving and family-oriented. It was at a recent baby shower that Hadley first mentioned wanting a birthday party there. So, graciously, they planned to give her one.
So, Sunday before last, we drove down to Laura's mamaw and papaw's house on Pigeon Roost Road. It was a beautiful, sunny day to be out in rural Kentucky. We expected a good turn out, since many family members live close by. However, not only did those close by show up, but Laura's cousins from out of town even came in. Also, her uncles and aunts prepared food, decorated with pink balloons and brought gifts to make the party special for Hadley. Seeing this side of Hadley's family, from her great-grandparents down to a couple of infant cousins was very special.
One of the exciting parts of parenting is seeing my daughter with my wife's side of the family. Of course I understand her relationship with my family and parents, but when I get to see how loved and blessed she is with Laura's side, my eyes are opened to the other part of Hadley's make-up. I enjoy her aunts comparing her to Laura's mother when she was a child, or going through old pictures to show similarities with family members. Seeing the way she is accepted and loved as she is an equal part of this family, and knowing she has inherited a place at this family's table thrills me as I see what a loving and supportive family she has.
So, on my daughter's fifth birthday, I am thankful for the many friends and the fun that she can have as a child. But more importantly, I am thankful that she has many family members who love her and care for her.