Yesterday, my little girl turned three (yes, she shares a birthday with William Shatner). Today, I’m making calls trying to find a venue for her birthday party.

I’m that on top of things.

How important is it to throw a party anyway? I didn’t even think it was on her radar, but then a few weeks ago, as my daughter was explaining to a random cafe customer that she’s almost three and going to have a birthday party with a cake and presents and candles and new dress and and and [deep breath] and and and and – it occurred to me that I do have responsibilities in this department – and apparently, this year, she has expectations.

I was in the same boat last year with school, and fatigue, and bills, and everything-all-at-once. I even wrote about my frustration in deciding to postpone her birthday party till April last year, because I just couldn’t do it in March. And then the birthday party never happened. Too much everything. I can’t let that happen twice in a row.

And, I know this is a taboo topic but, I don’t know how many birthdays I will have with her. I can’t promise her I will always be here for her. I’m not planning on going anywhere, of course, but I got a big wake-up call with this cancer diagnosis. I need to cherish every moment I have with her. I can’t promise tomorrow, but I can give her today.

So what about school and everything else? I can’t count how many times a day I ask myself what the right thing to do is, and I don’t know the answer. In the moment, when she’s desperate for my attention, I want to say forget school. So what if that paper is due in 4 hours? When I sit back and look at the big picture, school is just so important. Hopefully it will help increase my earning ability, but more importantly, it’s an education. An education is so much more than just vocational school, and the more classes I take, the more I understand this. It’s critical. And I want my daughter to see that, come hell or high water (and I feel like I’ve seen both recently), I got an education. But attendance in school isn’t just about an education, either. We depend on my student loans to pay the rent. As much as it’s digging us deeper into debt, it’s also my way of helping to keep us housed and fed. Hopefully, someday it will pay off by leading to a decent paycheck.

But, I also want her to understand how important she is to me.  When I hear her say phrases like “I’m trying to get this done,” “I have work to do,” and “In a minute,” my heart breaks a little bit because I know exactly where she’s getting them.

So I’m going to throw her a birthday party. I know it wont make up for all that time with my nose in a book, but it’s important. It’s important to her, and it’s important to me. It won’t happen till April, but this time, I’ll make sure it happens.

And the gift? One of our little traditions is right before bed she picks out what she wants to dream about; we can get quite fanciful, because amazing things can happen in dreams and anything is possible. More often than not, her choice of dreams involves dancing, and several times she has chosen to go dancing in an orange dress, and holding orange flowers. (Before this, I had no idea she even liked orange, but I think it’s becoming a favorite color). The other day we were at the store and she ran right up to an orange dress and said “I danced in this dress in my dream.”  I think I need to find her an orange dress.

Also, is orange the big color this year? I seem to be seeing it everywhere.

You can learn more about my cancer story here:

my cancer story | Judy Schwartz Haley

Judy Schwartz Haley


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