First day as a homemaker, October 30ish, 2013. If you had been standing in the middle of that camper as I unpacked boxes of wedding gifts and “can’t-live-without” housewares, you would have A) actually been sitting on the kitchen counter (there was literally no way to walk through the camper) and B) been questioning why on earth I would be using precious cabinet space to hide away a tea set and enough accoutrements for a proper (albeit small) tea party. I would have stubbornly told you “just in case…”. Looking back now, I have to laugh at myself. I also have to question my devotion to the tea party…my newborn son got a smaller cabinet for his things. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit that. The tea set didn’t get too much use that year (imagine that!), but I could not bring myself to take it to storage.
When I was little, my mom wasn’t real big on porcelain dolls or “collectibles”. If you recall, it was pretty popular in the 90s to have a giant collection of untouchable dolls (or Beanie Babies) sitting on your shelf collecting dust. Mom always said toys were meant to be played with and enjoyed for as long as possible. So, I got to play with my miniature porcelain tea set and all of my dolls, even the porcelain one. We also irreverently ripped the tags off of our Beanie Babies while our friends put them in glass cases and waited to become bazillionaires. Always the rebels, us redheaded Balogh kids.
Growing up, Valentine’s Day was a big deal. I don’t know why, but my parents REALLY did it up on V-Day. Special cards for each of us and usually some kind of gift box for each of us, filled with little gifts and sweet treats. It was one of my favorite holidays growing up. I never thought of it as a boyfriend-required holiday, so as a teenager there was no love lost for February 14th. It was a day to celebrate the people I loved the most- my family.
Here’s what I hope my kids will remember from their childhood: that we celebrated life. I hope they’ll remember a home full of joy. I hope they’ll remember that we took every opportunity to celebrate the goodness of being alive and being loved. But how do you get there when you’re a busy momma? I think I’m starting to figure it out.
A week ago I found my old tea party book my mom bought for me when I was probably 8 or 9 years old. It reminded me that even a themed tea party can be simple and special. I had to take advantage of my sister being here. I’m still recovering from a C-section and she’s like a party fairy godmother. Give her some crepe paper and 30 minutes and she can turn your living room into a Pinterest worthy party scape. Fortunately, all of the random party supplies I keep stashed in bins under my bed yielded a ridiculous amount of Valentine themed décor, so she didn’t have to work any miracles.
I’d like to show you beautiful, professional looking photos of a toddler tea, where everyone is smiling and the house looks immaculate. That’s not what I have here. I have a couple pictures we took with my dying cell phone, unable to get decent lighting or a single smile from any toddler. Harrison was terribly grumpy, having just woken up from his nap, and wanted nothing to do with pictures. It was lucky I only invited his two closest two-year-old friends because he was not in the mood to play host either. He wanted to eat his Valentine M&Ms and have everyone leave him the hell alone. Except to give him strawberries. Eloise was unimpressed with her tutu or our efforts to get her to look at the camera. Us toddler moms ate way too much chocolate. It was lovely. It was lovely to watch these little people drink from tea cups like little grown-ups and feel important. It was hilarious to watch them go from that to jumping on Harrison’s bed and yelling at the top of their lungs. The tea was small, simple, and special. It was perfect for my little H and E.
I’m hoping to make it a tradition. I’d love to plan more in advance and have more of our friends join us next year. But if circumstances don’t allow it, I’m still going to find some way to make it memorable. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to say to my kids, “I love you.” ❤