On my daughter’s birthday — or as we say, my day of giving birth — a group of amazing mom friends came to celebrate a milestone with my daughter.
In our tradition, at age 7, she begins to learn to pray. It doesn’t technically count until she reaches puberty, but the habit of prayer begins, and she tries to do one of the five prayers.
Pretty Much Everything was Done by People I Love
So my friends brought the cake, balloons, toys, and gifts for the kids, while I simply watched in amazement how long the kids could keep bouncing in the bounce house. My friends came from near and far, and warmed up my heart with their company, positive attitude, and radiant faces. One friend drove in the rain to drop off something from Pakistan for my kids. I am in awe of their kindness and love.
I tried my best to tidy up the house, and clear the mountains of books and paper off the counters so that my friends and neighbors could come to celebrate.
On a Monday, in Ramadan, I hosted a play date unlike any other.
This was the first time I think in my life I did a “women’s only” event and I must say, it is awesome.
It was simple.
There was no biryani. No catering. All of us were basically fasting, and happily watched the kids eat pizza and ice-cream — foods I naturally am not keen on eating. I had the kids make their own pizza, and I had picked up the dough and pepperoni beforehand.
In the evening, we went to my in-laws house for iftaar with my brother and his wife. My dinner table is still full of kid craft supplies, yarn and glitter glue, so we are blessed to have a proper table at their house. Having a clutter-free environment to eat in is a miraculous gift at this stage of my life, with one large dinner table that seats 8.
I propose a big tent approach to parties.
Invite everyone and see whoever can come. I am not a fan of planning months in advance for something as simple as a child’s birthday. I remember the largest party for the kids was hosted by my extraordinary mother, who hired someone to do our makeup, hired a hall, and photographer… She even had a multi-tier cake, mostly because the birthday coincided with our 10 year anniversary. I remember the friends who made it out for that event.
I’m not really into all that. I appreciate it, but I don’t think it’s necessary or sufficient to have a good time, especially at this age. My pictures will never make it to IG or Facebook, or really anywhere outside of a photobook. I like things simple.
I’ve been writing a journal for my child since she was born, and now that she can read, I presented that book to her. That’s it. That is my gift. Also I cleaned the bathroom. That was another gift for the whole family.
Cake. Balloons. Crafts. Bounce house. Icecream. Little people.
The Un-Party Recipe
In fact the whole idea for the party came from friends who said they had seen a salah party on IG. I debated doing it until the day before, and then just hit sent less than 24 hours before the big day. Voila.
This post might be, how not to throw a birthday party. The ultimate list on what not to do, when you’re sleep deprived, hangry, and under-caffeinated.
But the best part was seeing how delighted, exuberant even, the kids were at seeing their friends stop by. It is pure joy and happiness. The whole thing was a surprise. Even seeing Mamu and Mami at grandma’s house was a surprise to the kids. I loved also debriefing the crazy day with my sister in law and joking about the skin reactions I am having to various makeup.
Of course, I must also deeply thank my in laws who hosted our family. My father in law remembered my brother’s favorite dish and cooked that! And my mother in law decorated the banister with balloons. It was beautiful and perfect. She even wrote Fatima a birthday card, which I forgot to do this year.
This post is dedicated to all the women who light up my life, bring food, and hugs when we need it most. Jazakallah Khairun.