No-Birthday Party


(Based on a true incident)
You’re my mother kind and true (Children’s Songbook, page 206.)

Even though Mom is a stay-at-home mom, it seemed like all of her time and energy was swallowed up by other things—church, Dad, and my two brothers, who always had games to attend and who needed extra help with their homework. It seemed like Mom never had time for me.

Usually that was OK, but then a big thing happened. We moved from a small southern town to this huge northern city. The weather is cold here, and my classmates seemed cold, too. I had a hard time making new friends. Everyone else already knew each other and invited each other over to their homes after school. No one invited me. They dressed differently than I did, too. I had the clothes I’d worn in the south; they dressed in blue jeans and sweaters. Whenever I said, “Yes, ma’am,” to the teacher, like everyone did in the south, the other students snickered. They usually just said, “Yeah” or “OK,” when the teacher talked to them.

No one invited me to play after school, or to eat lunch with them, or to be on their team at recess. I felt left out and lonesome.

One day I decided to do something about it. I thought I might make some friends by having a party. A party would be much more exciting than just inviting one person over after school. I tried to explain all this to Mom. I asked her first if I couldn’t please have a party. Then I begged. I even cried, though not on purpose.

“I can’t do it right now, Ann Kathryn,” Mom said. “Because of the move, I have too many other things that need to be taken care of first. Give it time. I’m sure you’ll make some new friends real soon.” Mom didn’t understand how important this was to me.

I gave it time and tried to be friendly at school, but nothing changed. One day seven girls from my class were sitting at my lunch table. Almost before I knew what was happening, I found myself saying, “I’m having a party Saturday afternoon … at … at two, and you’re all invited.”

I scared myself so much that I thought I’d fall through the floor. I didn’t have my mother’s permission, and yet I’d invited seven girls to my house for a Saturday afternoon party. How dare I? What was Mom going to say?

The girls looked at me like they saw me for the first time. “Is it a birthday party?” one of them asked.

“No,” I answered, “so you don’t need to bring presents or anything. It’s just a party.” I crossed my fingers and hoped it would all work out somehow.

The girls all got permission from their parents and told me the next day that they’d be coming.

Saturday came, and I still hadn’t told Mom. I spent the morning as usual, helping her clean the house. My job was dusting, and I dusted like my life depended on it.

Lunchtime came and went. How could I tell my mother? What would she say? I wasn’t excited anymore, only scared. I prayed in my heart that the girls would all call and say that they couldn’t come, but there were no phone calls. Next I prayed that they would come, but dressed in their regular clothes, like they just happened to drop by. I knew I was dreaming.

The hall clock ticked louder than it ever had, almost as loud as my heart. I almost passed out when the doorbell rang. I ran to open the door before Mom got there, but she was right behind me. Four of the girls, more dressed up than they would be for school, stood smiling at the door. “Hi,” they said. “Are we too early for the party?”

Mom, in her house-cleaning slacks, looked at them, then looked at me, and faded quietly into the kitchen.

The door bell rang again. The three other girls stood there smiling. This time my mother did not appear at the door. I could hear her bustling around in the kitchen. I guessed that she had decided to let me handle this mess on my own.

It was a strange party, but I did my best. We watched a new video my family had bought. Then we played games. I even gave away my new charcoal pencils to the winners. I began to have fun, and the girls laughed a lot and seemed to be having a great time, too.

After we’d played a few games, Mom called from the dining room, “Girls, it’s time for refreshments.”

Astonished, I led my new friends to the table. Our best dishes were out, and there were flowered napkins, a plate of Mom’s yummy cookies, and ice cream with chocolate sauce and nuts! Mom had changed into her best skirt and sweater. She was smiling! I couldn’t believe she was going to help me through this!

“It’s good to have you girls come over,” Mom said. “Ann Kathryn’s birthday is during the summer when we’re on vacation, so she doesn’t always get to have a party with her friends.” She smiled at me.

Everyone enjoyed the refreshments. The girls left soon after that, and I was alone with Mom. She didn’t say a single word. Not one. She just began clearing the table. I rushed to help.

My father and brothers came home from a ball game, saw the party stuff, and asked, “What’s going on?”

“Oh,” Mom answered, real calm, “Ann Kathryn and I had a little surprise party.”

That’s all she said. She knew that I knew that I’d done an awful thing. I didn’t need a scolding. I felt terrible inside, even though the party had been wonderful.

That night Mom came to my bedroom to say good night, as she often did. She sat on the bed and gently brushed the hair from my eyes. She looked at me real deep and said, “I’m sorry, Annie Kate. I didn’t know how much you needed a party.”

“Oh, Mom, I’m so sorry I didn’t get permission first. The invitation just kind of slipped out, and then I didn’t know what to do. You were so great! Will you ever forgive me?”

She kissed me on the forehead, “Of course, I do, darling. And do you forgive me for not understanding?” I nodded. “I think we both need to spend more time talking to each other,” she added. I smiled and she kissed me on the forehead, then left. I had done a dreadful thing to my mother, but she had understood and had forgiven me. Everything felt right again.

I sometimes just say the words when I pray, but that night I knelt and prayed with all my heart. I asked Heavenly Father to forgive me for not being honest with my mother, and I thanked Him that she was so understanding and forgiving. I went to bed that night knowing that all was forgiven, and that was the best feeling I’d had all day.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Shauna Mooney Kawasaki