Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

Happy (Thirty) Sixth Birthday to Me October 4, 2013

Filed under: birthday — Stephanie Rische @ 7:46 am
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Thirty years ago today—my 6th birthday—the Worst Birthday Disaster Ever turned into my Best Birthday Party Ever. (Because obviously, when you’re six, the world is one big superlative.)


When September rolled around, Mom said, “It’s time to start thinking about your birthday!” just as she did every year. So we sat down at the kitchen table and went through the annual checklist to pull off a party personalized just for me. And as always, I felt like the most special girl in the whole world.


What theme do you want for your party? (I must have had some undue influence from Rainbow Brite, because the theme always seemed to include some variation of rainbows and hearts.)


What shape do you want for your cake? (Yes, Mom made it from scratch.)


What flavor do you want for the cake? (Cherry. Every single time.)


Everything was nailed down, and I could feel my little heart fluttering in anticipation.


But then came the final question:

Who do you want to invite to your party?


I swallowed hard. “Mom,” I said, “I wish my birthday was in the spring, not the fall.”


She looked at me quizzically. “Why, honey?”


“It’s too early in the year. I don’t have friends yet.”

 Birthday 1-1


And it was true. I was the slow-to-warm-up kid, the shy girl, the one who stood on the outskirts at recess until she worked up the confidence to break in sometime around second semester.


Mom didn’t miss a beat. “No problem,” she said. “We’ll just invite all the girls in your class.”


There was no trace of panic in her eyes, but looking back now, I have to wonder if she was secretly hyperventilating. How on earth would she fit 16 girls in our house?


But at the age of almost-six, I didn’t notice. My eyes were already dancing with visions of hearts and rainbows. In an instant, through the magic of Mom’s words, I’d gone from having zero friends to having 15.


And when it was time to blow out the candles on my heart-shaped cake, surrounded by every single girl in my class, I felt so happy I might as well have swallowed a rainbow whole. For once, everything seemed so perfect I could hardly think of anything to wish for. I remember offering a halfhearted wish for the ultimate icing on the day: an actual rainbow in the sky.


But I have a hunch God gave priority to a mom’s prayers in that moment. A mom who was whispering prayers for the heart of a little girl who wanted a friend. A mom who was making a wish herself—for a day free of rain (and accompanying rainbows) so there would be room for 16 little girls in party hats at the table outside.


This is 30 years late, but thanks, Mom. Thanks for the Best Birthday Party Ever.

 Birthday 2-1


8 Responses to “Happy (Thirty) Sixth Birthday to Me”

  1. maggierowe Says:

    Stephanie, I can just see your mom planning this. What a testimony to the power of love and memories that last for decades. That’s you in the long braids looking shyly up at the camera, right? Love this!

  2. Christie Says:

    This is such a lovely story! You describe so beautifully much of what I feel as a mom, yet you do it from the perspective of daughter. And that first photo? Oh my, it breaks my heart – so much hope and trust in those waiting chairs, those empty plates.

  3. Nancy Rische Says:

    Beautiful story of love.

  4. Marilyn Kitchell Says:

    I was going to send you a             HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!!      when I saw your post … and i’m so happy for you …..   happy for your involvement at THP, your literary forays and esp. for Daniel ..         I mean, after the Lord.   May He give you a very rewarding year … one in which He brings you many wonderful surprises and delights as only He can.  again,   happy, happy birthday Stephanie ….   love Marilyn    

  5. Janel Luna Says:

    This is such a sweet story from such a sweetheart of a lady. It’s amazing how moms know what to do at just the right time. Happy Birthday. I hope you have an amazing new year of life. Hugs!!

  6. Linda Says:

    Loved this, Stephanie. What a good mom to roll with the challenge! And what an adorable little girl!

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