The Non Adventure of the 34th Birthday

Today is my 34th birthday.

Of course, birthdays aren’t really birthdays any more. Back in the day, the days before Noah, I used to have three birthdays:

  1. My actual birthday (i.e. 10th June)
  2. My family birthday
  3. My friends birthday

My last real birthday was my 30th. I had a big party: a Hollywood themed fancy dress. And thank goodness I did because, one month later, I was pregnant with Noah and birthdays would never be the same again.

Can you guess who I am?
Can you guess who I am?

In just one year, by the time I turned 31, life as I knew it had changed beyond repair. Noah was two months old. My life was not my own. My boobs were not my own. I no longer slept. I no longer had a waist. I no longer had birthdays. At first, I didn’t admit this to myself. One morning, after Noah had miraculously slept for three hours in his Dream Swing, I decided I would have a small gathering for my 31st. I made it into an event on Facebook and invited all of my friends. At 11 o’clock that night, I cancelled it. How naïve.

I remember absolutely nothing about my 32nd birthday. My 33rd birthday was overshadowed by my sister’s 30th. Her birthday is three days after mine. We planned to go out for a family meal sans Noah. The table was booked for 7.30pm. Unfortunately, Noah, with his freaky sixth sense for these things, detected something was happening without him and didn’t go to sleep until 8.30pm meaning we made it to the restaurant at 9pm.

My 3rd birthday - the last birthday I had to myself (sorry for the slightly freaky picture)
My 3rd birthday – the last birthday I had to myself (sorry for the slightly freaky picture)

So how does my 34th birthday measure up?

Today involved a fairly early start at 5.45am. I can’t complain because it was the first night in a week that Noah hadn’t been awake for two hours at 2am. Noah was very excited about my birthday and opened all of my presents for me. He was thrilled by my new ipad (or should I say our new ipad?) and christened it with a go on the CBeebies app. He then made me some fairy cakes. In the afternoon, we went to a children’s art class with my friend and her son and made a series of different butterflies with paints, tissue, sequins and pipe cleaners.

Deliciously Noah
Deliciously Noah

But this Saturday I am going out on the town with my amigos for the first time in four birthdays. Ok, so it’s brunch rather than a night on the tiles, but it does involve unlimited Prosecco for £15! Getting drunk on my birthday used to be compulsory. Getting drunk on anyone’s birthday used to be compulsory. Now I have to get home in time to put Noah to bed.

What happened to this girl?
What happened to this girl?

My Noah, I would not swap you for all the world to be that girl again. Anyway, she isn’t gone for good. One day, when you’re about fourteen, I’ll be the embarrassing Mum dancing on the table with a neon pink cocktail in a fish bowl and a straw on her birthday.

P.S. I would like to officially thank my friends, my family and my husband for their generous birthday presents. My Noah and I are very lucky to be surrounded by your unconditional kindness.


10 things I now know about hosting a 3rd birthday party

  1. Your child will be ill. The day before the party, your child will be in a strange and emotional mood. If you have a child prone to dramatics, that child will curl up on your lap the night before with your scarf stretched over his body in absence of a blanket, flutter his eyelids and feel his own forehead which he declares to be hot. With trepidation, you will dose your child up with Neurofen before going to bed, and start on the birthday cake, trying to keep an optimistic outlook. Your child will wake up with streaming eyes and nose and a temperature but declare himself to be well enough for his party. You will believe him because you have a Peppa Pig shaped sponge cake in the kitchen waiting to be iced as well as a fridge full of party food.
  2. Your child will wake up earlier than normal (at least an hour) and you will have to get up earlier than normal (at least 55 minutes). Expect to be up before 6am.
  3. No matter how many assistants you have, you will not be ready in time. Don’t expect to be dressed when the doorbell goes.
  4. Your child will sit by the door all morning, waiting for his guests to arrive. When they finally arrive at 2pm, your child will refuse to speak to any of them and glare at them when they dare to attempt to play with his toys.
  5. Cake making will not go well and will not look as professional as you envisaged when you looked the method up on the internet. No matter how careful you are, ready to roll icing will never do what it is told. Parts of the cake will be patched up with icing plasters and parts will be so thin it will be shiny and see-through. However, your child will be excited by your efforts. He will keep sneaking into the kitchen to try and lick the cake. You will stop him several times with his tongue a millimetre from the icing. Also, everyone will tell you the cake is marvellous even if it isn’t. All your struggles with the rolling pin and trying to unstick the rolled icing from the work surface will be well worth it when your child fills his little lungs and his little hamster cheeks puff out and he blows his candles out. Never mind the spit.
  6. Your child will make a random and unpredictable wish when blowing the candles out. He will probably wish for a dragon. A real one. In all other circumstances you would pray that your child’s wishes come true….but not this time.
  7. Your child will be stationed by the front door greeting guests. When he catches sight of a present, he will remove it from the parent’s/child’s hands before it is offered. Presents will be unwrapped at the front door in everyone’s way. He might say thank you; he might not.
  8. Dancing competitions don’t work.
  9. A lot of the food that you spent hours preparing will be thrown in the bin at the end of the day. Things children eat – crisps, fairy cakes, mini pizzas, jelly. Things children don’t eat – sandwiches with a variety of healthy fillings, fruit salad, cheese and pineapple, dinosaur biscuits (surprising).
  10. Birthdays are exhausting. Your feet, back and legs will ache. You might need to take a diclofenac if you want to get to sleep that night. But you will probably forget because you will need a drink or four once the party is over and will fall into bed early.

I would like to acknowledge the following people who helped to make Noah’s party a success:

  • My Mum who cleaned the flat from top to bottom
  • My Dad who blew up all the balloons and attached them to various bits of furniture
  • My sister who made the sandwiches and fruit salad that nobody ate
  • My husband who carried out my orders graciously despite being depressed about his enthusiastic barber giving him a GI Joe haircut
  • All of Noah’s friends (and ours) who helped us celebrate today.

Once again my Noah, Happy Birthday.


The Adventure of the Happy Birthday

Noah’s third birthday started at 5.30am. He has one of those clocks that tells him when he can get up. The clock has a sleeping bunny and an awake bunny. It has never really worked. If the bunny is not awake when he wakes up, he gives it a good telling off for still being asleep. Either that or he pulls the lead out so the whole thing goes off. Last week, I told him that if he gets out of bed or makes any sound at all before the bunny wakes up, he will not be able to watch anything on my phone for the whole day. It worked for a few nights but this morning we had to spend forty minutes listening to him talking to his dragon and bashing it against the cabinet beside his bed, then a further ten minutes listening to him calling out that he desperately needed a drink.

My husband went in to him. Noah decided he wanted to read his favourite book of the moment, a collection of fairy tales, in particular a story about the Swamp Monster. His thirst was forgotten.

“What day is it today?” my husband asked him.

“Ah yes!” Noah said. “But where are my happy birthday things?” He looked around his bedroom, frowning. “They are playing hide and seek!”

Noah’s happy birthday things were carefully arranged in the front room. He ploughed through them until he opened Buzz Lightyear. This brought the present-opening proceedings to a standstill. Naturally, Buzz had to fly around the room several times, land on various objects, then take off again shouting “To infinity and beyond!” Holding Buzz upside down and looking at his shoes, Noah asked whether ANDY could be inscribed under his own feet. I told him that if anything was being written on him, it would be Mummy, not Andy.

We had a nice day planned with swimming and then going to Toys R Us so Noah could choose himself a bike from my Mum and Dad. This didn’t make it any easier than usual to get him washed, dressed and out of the house. He was more than willing to brush his teeth for a change, thanks to his new Mickey Mouse electric toothbrush, but he still had to be coaxed out from under the coffee table with a chocolate finger biscuit before he would get dressed.

We all went to Oberlaa Therme Wien, a large swimming complex in Vienna. Noah thoroughly enjoyed the slide in the children’s pool for ten minutes, then spotted a big slide outside that he wanted to go on. It was raining. My husband took him on the slide. Five times. The pool he preferred, however, was the relaxation pool, which meant it was a little bit less relaxing for everyone else attempting to chill out. When I started to do Pop Goes the Weasel with him, I was given a firm rejection (some people might call it a shove) and he informed me he is not a baby anymore. So that was the end of that.

“Mummy, I love swimming pool water!” he declared as I lounged on one of the tile beds in the pool.

“I’m glad you’re enjoying your birthday treat,” I replied, fondly.

“Yes I am. Can we go home now?”

After his early start, the excitement over all his presents, the joy of now being in possession of his very own Buzz, as well as a morning spent doggy paddling around a heated pool, Noah was not in a very good mood by lunch time. For the past couple of months he has been asking for steak, like his daddy. My husband told him he could have steak when he was three. And so Noah was furious when a ham and cheese toastie was set before him in the café. “I want steak!” he roared. Even when his sandwich was swimming in a sea of ketchup, Noah could not be comforted. I put him on my lap and tried to feed him a piece. He took one bite then conked straight out with the hefty form of Buzz Lightyear tucked under his arm.

Happy Birthday, my Noah.

Noah's very own Buzz Lightyear
Noah’s very own Buzz Lightyear