“Mommy? You can go to that conference this week if you want,” said my soon-to-be-nine year old daughter as she lay her head on her pillow, settling in for sleep.
“Thank you but it’s ok,” I said reassuringly. “One day I’ll go but not this year.”
After kissing my daughter goodnight on Monday evening, I went into my office where my badge for the Consumer Electronics Showcase (CES) was ironically peeking out from a stack of papers.
The conference that is “the world’s largest tradeshow for consumer technology” just happens to be held over my daughter’s birthday each and every year. It’s a playground for the tech industry where the newest, fastest, largest, sleekest gadgets, accessories, and all things tech make the debut for the year.
From the invites, it sounds fabulous. Dinners, cocktail hours, fancy parties with the biggest names in tech making product announcement with A-list celebrities, and a chance to connect with friends and those in the industry.
But I’m not there. As important as it is for work, I favor of family time.
Every year I’m thankful for technology as I watch the news unfold from afar. Live streamed events, the flurry of press releases that seem to arrive in my inbox with each passing minute, updates from friends who happen to find a good connection and can tweet or post a photo to Facebook or Instagram, and tech sites who send a team of writers to cover the action allow me to be connected to the action of CES while being home for birthday milestones.
Because today she’s nine!
We have nine more years with our daughter before she leaves home, a point that really hit home when Amy Foster talked about the 18 summers we have with our children.
During our bedtime conversation, I told her that one day she wouldn’t care if I was here to celebrate her birthday with her. She looked at me with a puzzled look, tears starting to well up in her eyes, and said “but I’ll always want us to be together on my birthday.”
I know that day will come where she breaks the news to us that she’d rather spend her birthday with friends, and only friends, and not us. I know I’ll say ok, maintaining a strong outward appearance while my heart breaks in a million pieces.
So CES can wait.
This week the fanciest party I attended was at a bowling alley. It featured fruit punch, pizza, and a chocolate cake with fudgy icing adorned with frosting flowers in pink, purple, and blue. Instead of dining on haute cuisine prepared by chefs that my foodie self adores, I’m making her favorite dinner of spaghetti and meatballs featuring sauce she helped me make out of our summer tomatoes and basil. She’s chosen broccoli over salad. And parmesan garlic bread. Lots of it, please!
There will be more cake, ice cream with the requested Magic Shell, candles to blow out, and presents that I can’t wait for her to open to see the sheer expression of joy on her face. Then we’ll snuggle in bed reading. She’ll beg for me to read another chapter like she always does and I’ll look at her, make note of the time, and give in like I do each and every night.
And I know that there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
So one day I’ll make it to CES. Maybe next year. Maybe not.
But whenever I make it, you’ll be find me fawning over the shiny new gadgets and drowning my sorrows with free cocktails to mask my parental sorrow about my daughter growing up.
Happy birthday ninth birthday baby! I love you more each and every day!