A big happy 4th birthday to my MP!
As this traditionally loooong and exhausting day comes to a close, my thoughts naturally reach back to prior birthday celebrations, and I find myself reflecting on how drastically things have changed in such a short time.
The first birthday. Arguably the most memorable. In our tiny, turn-of-the-century kitchen measuring less than 100 square feet, the family (my dad, brother, sister-in-law and best friend) and a few neighbors crowded around MP and watched as she tasted her first piece of cake. We waited with baited breath for the reaction.
As was expected, most of it wound up everywhere but her mouth. A bonafied hit!
For a little while, at least.
The Demon Baby meltdown pic below is one of my absolute all-time faves. That’s my dad egging her on.
I remember spending a lot of time at the sink in those days. Dishwasher-less, *sob* I was sterilizing bottles by hand. Thinking back to the early days, I’m pretty darn proud of the two of us for figuring it all out on our own. In spite of any obstacles we faced, the memories are sweet.
Her second birthday found us here in our current house, in my hometown two states away. I spent the day at work, while she went to daycare. This was a hard day. I packed a special birthday muffin, sent along a few candles with instructions, left my camera and entrusted the center’s providers to record my baby’s second birthday. I kissed her good-bye and wished her a wonderful day.
The photos I got back broke my heart.
I didn’t need the runny nose or the sweaty hair or the tears welling in her eyes to tell me she was, in fact, NOT having a wonderful day. I felt like I had failed her. Knowing this moment would be swept from her memory in a matter of days didn’t do anything to ease my guilt or the gut-wrenching sadness I felt for having missed my baby’s second birthday.
Until she was 18 months old, I was fortunate enough to work for a progressive boss (a mother herself) who allowed me to work from home most days. And when I had to be in the office, MP would come along. She was a sling baby and I carried her everywhere. After outgrowing the sling, she graduated to riding on the mail cart. She was my constant companion.
Which wasn’t always easy (to say the least), but after being spoiled for so long, having to put her in daycare made me miss even the difficult moments. And then a few months later, the second birthday trauma just added to the whole guilt-ridden mess.
By the time her third birthday arrived, we had the daycare thing down. ‘Daycare’ was now officially ‘preschool.’ Once again, I spent the day at work, but this time coordinated a special hour with her teachers. I joined the party on my lunch hour to help supervise. The kids wore party hats and frosted their own sugar cookies. MP was so proud. And everything was okay.
In many ways, this birthday was markedly different than those that came before. Today, her true day, was a low-key celebration with Grammy and Poppy, topped off with a late night birthday Twinkie. Tomorrow comes the chaos. It’ll be another first – my virgin attempt at a full-blown party, complete with 11 kids, party bags, cake, balloons, pizza, punch and a HYUGE play structure at a rented facility. Wish me luck.
And to my sweet MP – thank you for choosing me to be your mommy. I wouldn’t trade one second of those 53 hours you took to get here. Honestly. I love you Baby.