life, love, and maybe babies

Friday, October 7, 2016

Underplayed: Why My Son Didn't Get A First Year Birthday Party, and Why I'm Okay With It

My son turned 1 last weekend.

That's already a big deal in itself, considering it took us 4 years to get pregnant, and when we finally did, it was because of the miracle of IVF. (You can read more about that all over this blog).

So you might imagine that as his first birthday approached, I got more and more excited to throw a huge bash, celebrating his entrance into this world. 

And you'd be wrong.

I first noticed my lack of excitement about this rapidly approaching event about three months ago right after we celebrated his 9 month birthday. (And by celebrated, I mean I took a picture and put it on Instagram). I was, of course, ecstatic that Hubs and I had kept our son living and breathing this long with no noticeable  long-term defects from accidentally letting him walk headfirst into the dining room table. He was happy, healthy, and smiling. 

But a few days later, a friend asked me a very innocent question over lunch and I almost had a heart attack.

"Is there going to be a theme for his birthday party?" my friend asked politely as I felt my $12 salad slither down my throat. "I mean, I know you call him Bubbles sometimes. Maybe that would be fun? Who will be invited?"

On the outside I acted cool and calm. But on the inside?

Image result for oh crap gif

HOW had I not thought of this yet?  How on earth had something as big as planning how to celebrate THE DAY HE WAS BORN not even entered my thoughts?

I'll tell you why. 

Because I'm tired.

Because my whole life is this kid right now. 

Almost every waking thought I have is consumed with him. When I'm with him I'm thinking about him, and when I'm not with him I'm thinking about him. At work I can turn down the volume on the thoughts (because paychecks are nice and I love my job), but he's always there. Always. And when I bring him home from day care, my world goes like this:

Hold him, dress him, feed him, love him, talk about him, take pictures of him, change him, wash him, dry him, rock him, laugh with him, laugh at him, entertain him.

On repeat.

I'm not complaining. I'm really not. This is what I love. I love that I was lucky enough to have all of my energy consumed by this little person that my husband and I and a doctor and medical staff and technology created. I love that I smell him even when he's nowhere near me. I love that I can walk through Target and hear a baby cry 8 aisles down and not worry because I know that it's a diaper change cry and not a hurt cry. I love that I can say "no thanks" to a dinner  or party because it's bath night and nothing is more important. That's what this little man has done for me. And it is fantastic.

But there is just no more room.

There is no more room in my brain for planning a party. Or even buying gifts. Or making a cake. I simply cannot do it. 

Kudos to every one of you moms and dads that can do more. In all sincereity. Bravo! Brava! Bellisima! From the bottom of my heart, I am flabbergasted. I'm thrilled that you can make it happen. But I'm in a different camp. The camp that doesn't have the damn energy to hand-create Sesame Street veggie trays. Adorable as they are.

The idea of filling non-GMO, latex free balloons or carefully creating handsewn give-away bags made from organic burlap makes me break out in hives. At the end of the day, all I could manage was to give our son a gift (es, one), sing happy birthday, let him eat some sugary cake, and call it good.

And so we did.

Want to know something else? We didn't even wrap his gift. It was in a brown Amazon Prime box. I bet it was covered in germs. I didn't care. Because my son was sitting in front of me. There. Right there. I could touch his chubby hands without asking for permission. I could stroke his soft hair and admire the way it looks perfect in the autumn sun. I coudl kiss him and kiss him until he pushed me away with a stubborn "NO!" that used to be adorable. The fact that I could do all of those things is the gift. 

He won't remember. He won't recall if we toasted with $100 bottles of champagne or sipped a sort-of-expired glass of milk as we watched him eat cake. He won't remember gifts. He won't look back and regret that there weren't more party favors or that there wasn't a pinata in the shape of Elmo. 

But he will see the photos someday, and he will watch the video footage. And maybe he will hear my voice waver as his father and I sing him "Happy Birthday" for the very first time. He might even see the tears forming in my eyes as I watch him gleefully squish that first handful of yellow cake in his tiny fists.

I remember as a teenager watching "Steel Magnolias" and loving the scene at the end where little Jackson has his 1 year old birthday.

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That's what I wanted for my son and our family. Singing. Cheesy grins. Obsessive photo taking. (And no hats.)

And that's what exactly we got.

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