As my to do list grows longer, I begin to realize how silly all this has become. It’s just a party. A party for a little person who won’t even remember it. He certainly won’t remember that I annoyed the Party City clerk to find just the right shade of blue balloon to match the invitation. Or that the blue from the invitation was color matched to a screenshot of sprinkles I’d sent the Etsy seller (after I scoured Amazon for the perfect sprinkles). He’s not the one who decided the flag forever stamps were just “okay,” forcing us to go to the Post Office to pick out something with a little more pizazz. He doesn’t care about the mantle garland, photo displays or party favors. He doesn’t even care about the presents. Take the rest, but leave the sugar and the gift wrap, thankyouverymuch.
But this first birthday party really isn’t for him. It’s for me. It’s the only way I can make my mind wrap around the fact that I’ve held him in my arms for one trip around the sun. I’ve loved him in every season. He’s been here a year. That’s not an easy thing to understand, you see, because just yesterday he was a gooey, squirmy, screaming naked little thing they laid on my chest. He would snooze, coo, and snuggle – but that was a million memories ago. That was long before the first yawn, sneeze, blow out, roll, sit, fever, wave, crawl, jabber, stair climb, slobbery open mouthed kiss and skinned knee.
There’s a reason cliches stick; it’s because they’re overflowing with truth. It goes so fast. Don’t blink. It’s the time of your life. Time flies. Time flies when you’re having fun. The days are long, but the years are short. It’s barely worth saying because every mom knows it’s true.
So instead of thinking about the days passed forever I’ll obsess about shades of blue. Send invites. Set tables. Then I’ll surround myself with friends and family, other people I know who love him, too. We’ll say obvious things like how how fast it’s gone and how big he’s gotten. Then maybe my heart and my brain will catch up to reality to comprehend my baby’s growing up. Maybe a little sugar shock will help it sink in.
I’m rarely sentimental, so it’s unlikely I’ll shed a tear when he hits this milestone. But, in my own way I’ll come to terms with the fact that it isn’t just my baby’s birthday. It’s bigger than that. It’s a bookend on my baby years. We’re going out with a bang- and lots and lots of cake. For us, more children lie only in a world of “what if”. What if I wasn’t struck with debilitating morning sickness? What if we’d spaced the kids a bit closer together? What if we space them farther apart? What if our financial resources, square footage and time were endless? What if my mom never forgives me for not giving her a granddaughter? But, I don’t live in that world. I live in one where my car is full, my heart is happy and my family feels complete.
This might be my youngest child’s first birthday, but it’s a first for me too. It’s my first “last.” There are big moments ahead – special days, celebrations and milestones – that I’ll experience for the last time with my baby. I know the best is yet to come, but there’s still a layer of sadness, the presence of finality. And now I know how I’ll cope: micromanaging the details and lots and lots of cake.
*originally written in 2015