This morning when we went downstairs for breakfast, my husband announced to everyone, “It’s my son’s first birthday!” This seemed like a huge turnaround in his attitude from just a week ago. As Aiven’s first birthday approached, Alex begrudged much of my preparations. To him, it wasn’t worth it to make a big deal about his birthday since he wasn’t going to remember it anyway. Also, since money’s tight right now, he felt that it would be better spent on other things or kept in reserve. A few days ago, in a moment of frustration, I blurted out that Aiven’s birthday was as much about me as it was about him. It was an epiphany for my husband and myself.
Aiven’s birthday is my birthday, too. One year ago today, I was reborn. I will never again be the same person I was before. I have progressed emotionally and spiritually. I have learned to be patient with my child (still learning patience with my husband), come to terms with my new body, and seen the world through the eyes of a newborn. I have received smiles and kisses that are truly priceless, and I have continued to work towards becoming more selfless (I grew up an only child myself, so things like sharing don’t always come easy to me.)
It is a milestone for both of us.
For Aiven, it is about celebrating his first year of life. He has progressed developmentally at a rate I still cannot fathom. He took his first steps at 9 months (and can now toddle towards danger in the blink of an eye), self-weaned at 11 months, and every day seems to learn more stupid pet tricks (kisses, hands up, gimme five, tongue out). Last but not least, he has survived one year living with crazy parents who schlepped him to five different countries and I don’t know how many different hotel rooms, and the smile that appeared on his face at 6 weeks is still there.
I never thought that I would have to celebrate Aiven’s birthday in a hotel room as a stranger in a strange land. I suppose I had fantasized a birthday bash in New York with at least half a dozen other kids his age. It would have been in our favorite restaurant, my closest friends would have been on hand, and there would have been a mountain of gifts for him to unwrap. The party we have tried to organize in Austin feels embarrassingly small in comparison, and at times I have wanted to call the whole thing off.
We are doing the best we can to make this day special for Aiven. After Aiven fell asleep last night we decorated our hotel room with balloons, streamers, and banners, and this morning we received a surprise delivery of birthday balloons from bubbe! We bought a bunch of toys for him, including a ball pit that he’s cavorting in right now. Later we’ll have lunch with friends, a cake and candles, and more gifts.
Today is shaping out to be wonderful. It is not the birthday I imagined for ourselves, but it’s the perfect birthday for Aiven. And that’s what matters most.
How did you feel on your child’s first birthday? What did you do to celebrate it?