Break out the cannons! The bunting! The choir! The party!
Hear ye, Hear ye – come and rejoice for I have made it through the first year of my son’s life and we are intact! healthy! thriving! and ready to conquer the challenges and the conundrums of all the years ahead!
Or something like that.
Ah – the first birthday party – the time has come where I can look back and laugh at all the moments when I said “We’ll laugh about this later” during the first year.
For example, that time when I took my brand new baby (seven days old) to the park and we got caught in a horrific thunderstorm where I literally could not see two feet in front of me. I covered his head with a plastic bag in an attempt to keep him dry, and ran the four blocks home. I got into the house shaking and terrified… and Ethan, well, he was still sleeping.
Then there was the time a friend of mine and I decided we could squeeze in a hike a little before dusk at a trail near my house. We parked the car, I strapped the five-month baby into the carrier, and we set out. We returned to the car as the sun was setting and drove down the entrance road… only to realize we were locked into the park. We had to pull the stroller out of the trunk and walk the mile and a half back to my house in the dark with a very hungry, screaming baby. Then get the car back at seven the next morning.
Of course there was also the weekend my husband and I spent with my in-laws in New Hampshire where we forgot to pack the formula and more than one change of clothing for the baby. I wish we could say that we remembered in the car ride up. No, it was at dinnertime when we couldn’t find the formula and an uncharacteristic diaper blowout precipitated the need for extra clothes. After ten months of parenthood, you’d have thought we could remember these small details.
Alongside these experiences of “What was I thinking!?” were also all the reactions and realizations that went along with first-time parenthood.
The unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach as I walked into the first doctor appointment and realized “I’m responsible for holding onto another person’s medical records, and tracking his physical development, and making a judgement calls about 102.5 degree temperatures.” Yikes!
The moment of surprise when my son crawled over to a larger baby and clamped his toothless gums onto the poor guy’s shirt like a little alligator. Was I destined to raise a little bully? What else besides a poorly hidden smile and an ineffectual “We need to say “hi” to our friends, not bite them” could I offer? When could I expect my kid to know what any of those words meant either?
Finally, I certainly didn’t expect to be so thoroughly converted into one of those parents who unabashedly says – “My baby is the cutest baby in the world.” And truly, believe it.
Despite being somewhat of a cynic about babies before having one, the beautiful mornings of waking up and snuggling next to a wriggly ball of baby chub caused my heart to contract and squeeze into a puddle of emotion. Those first tenuous open mouth kisses full of (yes, slightly disgusting) baby saliva planted firmly onto my cheeks gave me butterflies nestling against my breastbone. I certainly didn’t expect this ‘parenting thing’ to be so fun.
So now that we’ve made it to the first birthday party – which, let’s be honest, we all know is really for the parents anyway – I plan to celebrate the difficult and exuberant moments of this first year with friends and family. I’m looking forward to many more years of foolish decisions, uncertainty, and most of all boundless joy.
– Beth Melillo