Ahhh, birthdays. They bring forth so many emotions for parents. For one, we are thrilled that our children are growing and thriving just as they should. We are celebrating all that they (and we as parents) have accomplished in the last year. Sometimes we are just glad to have made it through a challenge and come out on the other side. For those of us still so close to the magical years of babyhood and toddlerhood, we are in awe of how quickly time travels through these all too short years. Part of us longs for a small bubbly baby or a bounding toddler once more. Part of us celebrates no more sleepless nights, bi-hourly feedings, or spit-up stained shirts. Overall, no matter how old they get, a birthday will likely be a reminder of a ‘labor day’ for many mothers. It is a day of great remembrance and joy.
My youngest child just celebrated his second birthday. My oldest will turn four at the end of the year. And me, I’m that mom. I am fighting against a force that I know I cannot win – Father Time. He will move swiftly through my life at times when I just need a few more minutes, weeks, or hours. And he will crawl at times when I want him to just speed up already. Such a ornery man Father Time. I spend a few weeks preparing for their birthdays. We make decorations, plan menus, and then we bake whatever celebration treat they want. It has become a tradition for me to me make them a birthday outfit to fit their chosen birthday theme. Through all this labor to prepare for their birthday parties, I am laboring in my mind on how I will not cry as they blow out yet another candle. I will not stifle their new freedoms and their growing maturity. I will celebrate in happiness and glee right along with them.
This is the first year I have prepared for a birthday and actually managed not to cry. No one warned me that I would strongly fight tears as I prepared the birthday banner or sang happy birthday to my child for the very first time. There was no warning about the lump the size of a golf ball forming in my throat and making my eyes water like a faucet…
I spend the weeks leading up to a birthday perusing through photos or rereading journal entries I made during my pregnancy. I will reread their birth stories at least once and dig around for videos of them in their infancy. During the actual day of the birthday I will often glance at the clock and oddly I can remember what stage of labor I was in at that time X years ago. Like how the nurse brought me a popsicle at 11:08AM back in December of 2010. I don’t know why I remember these things, but I do. They are likely tied my ‘new’ mom status and perhaps will fade with the years. I will remind my children of the exact time they were born and they will give me a blank stare and go back to what they were doing. But I, I will feel all those feelings of holding your baby for the first time all over again. I will steal a hug that lasts too long and a kiss on the forehead just as I gave at birth. After all, a birthday for them is also a celebration of triumph for me. A day we brought forth a child and added more light and energy to our family. A day we beat our infertility and losses. A day we won – in a big way.
Our children’s birthdays offer so much for celebration. Each year we gain more experience as their parents and get to bare witness to their personalities in bloom. We get a chance to look at how far they have come and imagine just how far they are going to go. While they are digging through presents and enjoying a day where it’s okay to have more than one piece of cake or another bowl of ice cream – we get to dig through memories and devour all those warm, fuzzy feelings of parental love and accomplishment. We get one day where people are happy to hear about what our child did at this age or that and we can share all the photos we want without that all too familiar sigh of, “Oh man, she’s in one of those moods. Get ready to be photo bombed.”
I am blessed with a large family who loves to celebrate my children almost daily. We delight in spoiling them on special days and sometimes just because. Birthdays for us all are quite special. I pray that we get many more to celebrate, winding through the memories of each one past until they all become a jumble of happiness and triumph. I may not always have those ‘new’ mom memories of just what I was doing on the day of their actual birth, but I hope I always carry those deep feelings of love and true happiness in my heart.
Happy Birthday sweet babies. You can grow to be 100 and in my eyes and heart, you will forever be those little bundles wrapped in a warm sheet and handed to me for the very first time.