There are definitely moments when you are knee deep in rubble, power tools and paint samples where you come to think this must be your life forever. Will I ever rest my fingers on a surface in this house and it not be covered in a thick layer of dust? (Probably not, actually!) Or will we ever have a house without lights hanging precariously from the walls, a rug covering up untiled surfaces, or living a life where you frequent Homebase more than your local pub?!
The first birthday of our firstborn, Darcey, was definitely such an occasion. We were three days away from moving in and had so much painting to do before the carpet fitters arrived that we just simply did not have the time to celebrate her birthday ‘properly’. Obviously, in a world where searching ‘first birthday party ideas’ on Pinterest can send you into a land of vomit inducing unicorn utopia, I found it quite sad that we weren’t making much of, what is, quite an important milestone. We had been a family for a whole year! We had survived! And more importantly, so had she! Yet, remembering that a one year old has never actually heard of Pinterest, nor seen the star shaped sandwiches, or the rainbow themed cupcakes, or the pastel balloon wall set up merely for photo shoots, we chose to spend the day decorating instead!
When she looks back on the photos of her first birthday, I hope it’ll be with pride at what her parents achieved. I hope she will feel so confident in our love for her, that she won’t care two hoots what we did! So Darcey spent the day with her Grandma, who brought her to the new house to join us in our half hour lunch break, where the three of us sang Happy Birthday to her, presented her with a shop bought cupcake and candle (courtesy of my mum and Waitrose) whilst we sat amongst paint pots, dust sheets and builders traipsing past. It was hard to look past our present situation and wonder, is this how birthdays will always be forever more? Will I ever have time for THAT rainbow coloured layered skittle explosion cake everyone seems to make? Will I ever have a home where I can host a party without worrying a child will end up choking on a loose screw they found behind the sofa?
And the answer is no, probably not. BUT a year and a half on, we found ourselves celebrating our second born, Betty’s, first birthday. I didn’t have time for the rainbow skittle cake (or the inclination to be honest, because, I mean, isn’t it a little overdone?!) but we are in a place now where the dust has settled, the paint pots are lurking in the far recess of our under stairs cupboard and the garden is at a state now where an hour or two a week of pottering is enough to keep the weeds at bay. Celebrating our sweet Betty’s birthday really did have me thinking back to those days when we survived on microwave meals, spent every naptime doing DIY and our recent contacts list looked like a Who’s Who of CheckaTrade.
Time has moved on, so much progress has been made and thankfully that season didn’t last forever and whilst we may still be busy with one thing for another, it was an absolute delight to have a day of cherishing both our girls. Darcey and I baked a cake, my first ever by the way (!), we opened presents, played with new toys, sang Happy Birthday to Betty a thousand times and even set up a paper garland for a little photoshoot of our own. (I know, we are SOOO cliched, right?!) It was simple, low-key, and perfect.
A reminder to myself that along the way. compromises always have to be made and for every season there are different time pressures, financial pressures, or priorities that outshine others. What you lack for one year, you may able to make up for in the next. Your renovation WILL end, your project WILL finish, your children will delight in the bigger picture and WILL NOT dwell on the fact their sandwiches are not star shaped or there’s no handmade pineapple pinata hanging from a tree with half the contents of Hobbycraft draped on its flagging branches.
What moment in your renovation did you think life would never ever return to normal? What’s the strangest way you’ve ever celebrated a birthday?