1st Birthday Recap
I need to write a quick re-cap of my little one’s birthday, for the record and for my own heart’s sake.
It’s funny how the day took little twists and turns that I didn’t expect, and yet seemed fitting in retrospect.
I pictured the perfect day, one spent playing with her, and a naptime spent making a sweet little cake with all the finishing touches that would make no difference whatsoever to her, but would satisfy my desire to celebrate with attention to detail.
But she woke up teething, in pain and very fussy. I spent the morning doing nothing but holding her since she burst into hysterics each time I even shifted my weight as if I might set her down. At 11:00 am we were both still in our pajamas, but the pain subsided and she mellowed out. She crawled away from me to lay at the end of the couch, and I was struck by how long she looks, especially remembering the tiny bundle of a year ago.
At last she fell asleep and I dashed off to my last minute dentist appointment, which took longer than I’d planned. She woke up while I was gone, and had a great time playing with her big brothers and sisters. I made it home, realized we had a more complicated evening than I’d anticipated, took a look at the clock and figured we had to be ready to celebrate in one hour. There was no way she’d stay awake long enough to celebrate after the evening commitments.
So, instead of the “perfect” birthday party, we had a quick, simple party that was thrown together by the entire family. Big sisters wrapped gifts and made her a party hat while Mom baked a cake and made dinner.
The whole gang crowded so closely around her while she opened her gifts that pictures or video were almost pointless. Her favorite thing, of course, was playing with the tissue paper in Grandma’s gift.
She was much more impressed by the wonder of having the whole family in her face than she was by her simple gifts.
We then whisked her to the kitchen, lit a candle and sang to her while my husband kept her hands away from the flame.
And then we let her go for it.
I’ve learned that little ones do a lot of good for big kids. For starters, they provide entertainment in a way that you can’t find elsewhere. The kids laughed and smiled as they watched her cover herself with birthday cake.
Soon she’d had enough, and went to work making sure that the chair was covered too.
We took her up for her birthday bath, and I just let the mess sit on the table.
The bath was a family affair, as well, with one big sister bathing her, one putting on the diaper and lotion, and another joining her in the bath. I just kind of stood there and watched it all unfold while my husband and boys left for their activities. I watched all these little mommies in the making as they cared for my baby so efficiently and suddenly I thought about a year ago.
When she was born, I was the only person who could really meet most of her needs. For the most part, her whole world consisted of the two of us. Slowly, the circle widened. She became more interested in her surroundings, more responsive to her Dad and siblings. I realized that I’d pictured her birthday as an extension of the baby and mom model that has defined her life to this point. Yet here we were, many of her needs being met by brothers and sisters and it hit me that this was a celebration not only of her first year of life, but of her natural progression towards full membership in the group of brothers and sisters she was sent to. I realized that, with each birthday, I share them a little more with a little wider circle of people. Each year they become a little less mine and a little more themselves. And while part of me wanted to object, I observed the scene before me and had to acknowledge that it was right. It wasn’t the birthday party I pictured, but it was just right.
After the bath I got out my all-time favorite pair of pajamas and put them on her for the first time.
I sat down on the floor and played with the little ones, watching them explore the new toys and interact with one another.
One by one the older children lost interest and drifted off to other activities until it was just the two of us. We read books, played with toys, snuggled, tickled and laughed until her Dad came home. He played games with her and got her laughing hard when he held her in front of a mirror so she could see her teeth.
Suddenly she was tired and it was time for bed. I fed her, prayed with her, kissed her and she was asleep.
The day was over. I walked back downstairs to the mess on the floor and in the kitchen, glad I’d let it wait.
Life is good. My little one is one.