Miss O finally turned seven this past week. It feels like we’ve been celebrating for months, which we have, because our events have been so disjointed and spread out this year. I’m all for an ongoing celebration, but this felt like it was getting out of hand. I’m already accused of being excessive when it comes to birthdays, but you’re only seven once, ya know?
I’m part of the sandwich generation, which is far less tasty than it sounds. Rather than indicating that we solely subsist on anything that fits within two slices of bread, hopefully gluten-free in my case, it means that as we aged into becoming caregivers of our children, our parents simultaneously aged into needing various stages of elder care, often requiring us to fill both roles at the same time and literally becoming sandwiched between two roles requiring us to care for others. If you’re like me, you may not even see it coming until you are firmly in the middle of it.
Most of us know who that boy is and all about his adventures at a school we can’t decide if we’d actually want to go to. It’s so ingrained in our collective culture by now that even if you haven’t been sorted into a house, you know something about J.K. Rowling’s marvelous world of wizards and magical creatures. It’s a powerful responsibility to usher another generation into Harry’s world. Miss O was a little young for Hogwarts when she was first introduced to Harry Potter, but she dove in deep and hasn’t looked back yet.
Here at the Jackpot, we’re used to getting this close to something, only to have it ripped away just as our fingers are about to touch it. When Miss O fell in love with American Girl dolls, I wanted her to have the whole American Girl store experience, complete with Bistro visit, doll salon trip and everything. We’ve had a run of good luck lately, mostly due to intense planning and severe financial discipline, so I felt confident I could lavish something ridiculous on my daughter for her birthday. Fortunately, we live a short drive from the only American Girl store in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, shortly after we decided Miss O would get a new doll for her seventh birthday, we found out that store would close in three short weeks, a full five months shy of Miss O’s birthday.
After our trip to the American Girl store in New York, Miss O’s obsession with American Girl dolls grew rapidly. When she spotted an American Girl catalog in the mail, she poured over it, circling everything she wanted, which was basically the entire catalog. I have to admit, after leafing through it myself, their stuff is still really cute. I also discovered they have a launch event at their stores when they release a new Girl of the Year doll on New Year’s Day. We didn’t have anything planned that day, so I figured why not check it out? It would be a great way to gauge her interest and see what our local store had to offer in preparation for the birthday experience I hoped to give her.
One of the things I’ve been looking forward to most as a parent is the doll phase. When I was a kid waaaaay back in the 80s, the Pleasant Company was just getting started with the most exquisite dolls I’d ever seen. The catalog was maybe ten pages long at that time and I think there were only four dolls, all representing historical time periods, and I HAD to have one. Now that my daughter was entering her doll phase, I wondered if my daughter would love them as much as I did.
The moment I knew I was pregnant, I knew I would love our child no matter what. I would do anything to protect her and I would help her anyway I could. When my perfect baby girl was finally born and I held her in my arms, I was relieved that her birth was without incident. At her first check-up, she was pronounced “perfectly healthy” and I finally let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding. We knew how lucky we were then and we still know it. Now we face something I wasn’t prepared for, navigating my own feelings about mental health, sensory issues and having a child who may have “special needs.”