I’d love to say that I have been waiting for Lily’s birthday to write my next post but that isn’t the case. Truth is I have been on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster over the last month, my head has not been in it and I haven’t been able to focus. All hormones and no reasoning – but happy to say I am in a much better place now and ready to write again!
Lily’s birthday seemed the perfect opportunity to get my laptop out again and share with you one of our most special times in the year as a family.
Her birthday is something that truly brings our two families together and it’s not the stress you’d necessarily imagine. This year, she celebrated her 8th birthday, and it was our 6th birthday as a ‘blended family’.
Each year we have a system. We take it in turns to host Lily’s birthday. How it has fallen, simply by chance, is that every even number, myself and Chris organises and every odd numbered birthday, Lily’s mum and stepdad organise.
This year was our turn… and in the current pandemic, I genuinely thought we wouldn’t be able to do anything. We are already at a heartbreaking point that our wedding in October will be postponed until next year, so I didn’t hold much hope for Lily’s party.
Originally, we planned a small get together in our back garden, but typically, we had planned earlier in the year to have our garden done, which due to delays was taking place on the week of Lily’s birthday… so the garden was, and still is, a building site.
Plan H it was! Luckily with the easing of restrictions in the UK, Lily’s favourite trampoline park was open, and, as it is such a big venue, we were able to arrange for a small number of Lily’s friends to come alongside family – some of which she hasn’t been able to see since March!
Now, I’m not going to bore you with what happened at a children’s birthday ‘party’… as it was a typical day, we had fun and bounced on trampolines, and that isn’t the point of this post… I’m not reviewing!
The point of this is who went. And I do not mean Lily’s friends. At this party, there was myself and Chris, Lily’s mum and stepdad, their little boy, Chris’s parents and Lily’s mum’s parents.
Most of you will read that and feel sorry for me. Feel bad that I had to spend a day with not only Chris’s ex but also his ex’s parents. People who I have no link with and never ever expected to meet, let alone sit and chat with at a party.
But do you know what? We had the most lovely day. Lily was over the moon with her gifts and ridiculous amount of cake (to the point she did feel a bit sick by the end of the week and needed extra special cuddles!).
Over the last six years, I have got to know Lily’s mum’s family pretty well, they came to Lily’s third birthday, as did I, and from that point we got on. They may have not been completely happy to meet me, and if I was in their situation, I’d feel I should have an automatic hatred for my child’s ex’s new partner.
But there was and has never been any animosity. They realise, the same as we all do, that every person in our situation, including Lily, are happier now, and that is all that matters.
I was terrified to meet them at first, so scared I was going to be judged or pushed out, not that I wanted or needed their approval, but I didn’t want to have built the relationship I had with Lily for it to be shunned.
And looking back, I don’t know why I was scared. As I have said many times throughout my blogs, I have been very lucky, I have been welcomed and that definitely isn’t the case for many.
In some cases, a stepparent wouldn’t even go to their stepchild’s party, for fear of there being some kind of drama with the ex’s family and it spoiling the day. It took a lot for me to build up that courage to accept this was the best way forward on both sides, but it took a lot more for Lily’s mum and her family to accept me. And for that I am truly grateful.
The biggest lesson here, and the whole point of this post, is that on Lily’s birthday, and in fact, on any child’s birthday, whether it be your own child, stepchild, niece, nephew, only one person matters on that day, and that’s the person whose birthday it is.
Lily’s birthday was special because everyone she loves was there to celebrate, and not for a second was it spoilt by people not getting on. We all smiled, all laughed, all chatted and discussed our plans for the rest of summer, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.
This post definitely isn’t gospel, and I completely understand that in some situations, this is just not possible, but the moment everyone learns to focus on the child, and not their own feelings, is the moment you all move forward and are able to celebrate.