The Truth About Birthdays


Pinterest is a fantasy world, in case you haven’t noticed. For the heck of it, I looked up ‘baby first birthdays’ (check it out for yourself) and looked through the pins that showed up. And I almost laughed out loud. Elizabeth’s first birthday looked NOTHING like these elegant, magazine-glossy affairs.

I had planned a simple, laid-back day with snuggles and cuddles and reflections on the past year, to be culminated with an afternoon nap to be fresh and ready for a family dinner at Johnny Carino’s that night. Yeah, that is NOT what happened. The morning was filled with errands, what should have taken perhaps two hours, took four, there was no nap when we got home, there were presents to wrap amidst amusing a rightfully sleepy baby. Then it was bathtime and getting ready time. The birthday girl did NOT want to get dressed, comb her hair, etc. Mommy ran through three outfits before she found one that she didn’t feel ridiculous in. Once we got everything packed and loaded up, including Elizabeth, we were fifteen minutes late leaving the house for dinner. She wasn’t happy being back in the car, naturally, and the rush hour traffic had begun. Even my husband beat us to the restaurant, coming from work, and he works about an hour away.

When we got to the restaurant, Ben took Elizabeth inside while I got the stuff out of the car. Naturally, as I’m getting out of the car, I drop her birthday presents. On the ground. In the mud. I could have cried right then and there, as I could have at many points that day. My mother handed me some tissues and I brushed them off as best I could. We got inside and found out that some family friends who had come had to leave at 6pm (it was almost five). We got Elizabeth situated and our drink orders placed (our server was patient and wonderful, thank you!). When Elizabeth’s milk came, I overfilled her sippy cup so when I went to screw on the lid, milk shot up into the air, only splishing her rather than soaking. Her bag got most of the wet. I sat there and just covered my face, again almost crying. Throughout dinner, Ben and I fed Elizabeth lots of bread and bites off our plates, though I know that she wasn’t getting as much food as she might normally. But she really seemed to like the bread and the milk at least.  Elizabeth suddenly decided that she had had enough of being in her high chair so I managed to free her and give her to our friends so they could cuddle her. They soon had to get ready to go so I had to rush along opening her presents from them, singing happy birthday and giving Elizabeth her birthday cupcake (we didn’t bother lighting it).

And there was my moment: watching Elizabeth stick her fingers in the frosting and eat bites of the cupcake as well as tasting her fingers. For a few minutes, I got to sit there and tape my girl and watch her enjoy her cupcake and frosting, eating far more daintily than I think I have ever seen a one year old eat cake. She did try to smoosh it towards the end but there was no huge mess.

On the whole, the day was not the best. I felt a great deal like a failure as a mommy, weary as a woman, and a shadow of a person, run off my feet and brain-weary. It was a ‘the universe hates me’ sort of day. But there was that moment and that moment made all the difference.

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