I call the Y, as The Stepmother requested, and learn that they don’t do parties any more, but the phone call solves a lot of problems. They have open swim on the day of the party, so The Stepmother can simply bring any number of girls and pay for them at the door. She’ll need to find another place to have cake, but she had mentioned a sleepover, which I assume will be at the father’s house.
This all sounds good to me, so I call and tell The Stepmother. She says, that’s not right, and begins to cry again. She can’t do it at his house, they don’t live together anymore; maybe I could find her a hotel with a pool? Could I reserve her a room in a hotel that has a pool they could use? The girl is asking me and asking me, The Stepmother sobs: I have to keep being a mother to this girl – she’s already lost one mother, she can’t lose two.
I tell her I will find out the name of the hotel where a friend of mine did something similar. She promises to pay me back for the money I spend, though I haven’t agreed to spend any. I wonder about this, but mostly I wonder why an Ex-Stepmother is throwing a party, but without cooperation from the child’s father.
I call another mom, who recently hosted the Birthday Girl at her own daughter’s pool party. I’m trying to understand what is going on, I tell her. Oh, she called you too? Other Mom tells me. She called me right before my daughter’s birthday party. She wanted me to make it a joint party for the two girls. I told her no, Other Mom says, but that I would be happy to help her coordinate something if she needed help, and that was the last I heard.
Other Mom and I talk a bit more, and it seems like the problem, really, is that The Stepmother wants to throw a party and just doesn’t have a place to do it. We agree that we are willing to co-host something for this girl.
I call The Stepmother, and ask her to please get me a headcount of no more than six girls, and Other Mom and I will put something together. She cries with gratitude, and thanks me for being part of The Village It Takes To Raise A Child.
I don’t hear anything else from her.
A few days later, Other Mom calls me. The Stepmother has been calling her, she says. Yes, she received a guest list – nine girls, none of whom we know: The Child is not included, and neither is Other Mom’s daughter, until Other Mom points it out.
Other Mom tells me, it’s too bad nobody told me the date, because we have plans that night. Can you give me the information for the pool that you found?
I pass along the information, and that is the last thing I hear of The Birthday Girl, her Stepmother, or her party.