This month, my daughter Olivia turns 1, the Big 1! I can barely handle it. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I’m planning a big, fat 1-year-old birthday party. Everyone will be there: family, friends, friends of friends, and if the wonderful ladies from her daycare center weren’t going to Disney World, they’d be there, too.
It’s not every day that your baby turns 1. It’s a huge accomplishment — a milestone. She’s learned so much recently; she dances and claps her hands whenever she hears music, she puts the phone to her ear and says, “Hello” (or at least that’s what it sounds like she’s saying), she shares her snacks and toys with the dog, and she’s trying to walk. Her personality is shining through, and it’s a fun time just being her mom.
It was just a few months ago that she outgrew her bassinet. That was bittersweet, because although she got to graduate to her crib, it also meant she was in her own room, not lying right beside me, where I could just open my eyes and see her. I didn’t want to let her go, but my husband encouraged me into accepting that it was time.
When she started to hold her own bottle, that was a big deal, because I got some relief, and it made her a little more independent. She didn’t need me as much. Sometimes I look at her while she’s sleeping, and I see a kid, not a baby. Not too long ago, she took up just a tiny space in that crib, so tiny that I thought she would get lost in there. I find myself constantly asking her to slow down. Let me enjoy you as my baby.
Some of the best advice I’ve received as a new mom has been to enjoy every minute, because it goes by fast. These pearls of wisdom were so comforting to me in those first few months when I was overwhelmed and anxious. It doesn’t feel like it’s going by fast to a mom who’s learning to breastfeed or who just wants to sleep for at least one uninterrupted hour. I’m pretty sure I wrote that advice on a Post-It and placed it above Olivia’s crib, for those middle-of-the-night sessions when frustration trumped every other emotion. It helped me understand that all too soon, my daughter will grow up, and I’ll yearn for these simpler moments.
I recently took Olivia to a local diner for a mommy-and-me dinner, something my husband does occasionally when it’s just the two of them. (Yes, I stole his little tradition.) Naturally, she got the attention of most of the diners. Halfway through our meal, I noticed she was staring intently at a couple of elderly women who were sitting behind us. She did this for so long that I just had to acknowledge it and introduce her to them.
The ladies talked about their “babies,” and how much they enjoyed being moms. Their babies were in their 50s now, but you would think they were talking about infants. One of them told me, “Whatever you do, enjoy this time in both of your lives.”
I know I will, which is why I’m excited to celebrate her first birthday. I’m acknowledging all the “firsts” she’s had in the past year, and I’m looking forward to a lot more. Maybe her party is more for me than it is for her. Will she remember her first birthday party? I doubt it. But it’s my big day, too. Since her birth day, everything has changed for me.