My baby turned one on July 20th. It was a milestone I could only dream about reaching back during Oliver’s colicky newborn days and thus, it needed to be celebrated accordingly.
Where is an overly ambitious, party-planning mom to turn for inspiration? Why Pinterest of course! After scanning through idea boards for…way too many hours (a number I’m embarrassed to admit), I came to two conclusions:
1) Poor Oliver got stuck with a mom who would never throw him a party quite as awesome as every other baby on Pinterest. And…
2) I needed a theme.
If there were an equation for creating a successful first Birthday, according to Pinterest, it would look something like this:
Cute party theme
Matching festive food
(preferably laid out artistically on a table also displaying month-by-month baby photos)
Picture perfect party
Oliver could throw a fit throughout the entire celebration. I could forget to bake the cake. All of our invites could get lost in the mail. But as long as I had a theme this party would be a success…at least in pictures.
What that equation fails to include, however, is that picture perfect and practical are two totally different things. I’m guessing if we were to look beyond the photos a different scene would emerge. Behind every ornately decorated food table is a grubby little hand flinging chips and dip on the floor. Behind every balloon bouquet and streamer is a crying baby who doesn’t understand why he can’t touch. And behind every butter cream covered work of art is a one-year old who will reduce it to a pile of mush regardless of how many hours someone spent sculpting Elmo’s face.
Perhaps elaborate Birthday’s and one-year-olds don’t really mix well. Clearly, Oliver’s Birthday didn’t NEED a theme for it to be special. Much the same way it didn’t NEED a cake, or presents, or balloons or any of the other dozen things I included on that day. But I still WANTED it to have one.
As a parent, it is my RESPONSIBILITY to provide my child with the things he needs: nourishment, rest, and a safe home just to name a few. But as his mother, it is my HOPE that his life will be filled with so much more.
It is my HOPE that he is not only nourished with food but also with knowledge and curiosity, lifelong friends, a sense of purpose and meaning, and unconditional acceptance and love.
It is my HOPE that he not only finds rest for his body but also for his worries, his insecurities, his negativity and cynicism, and his fears.
It is my HOPE that he not only has a safe home but a safe world to grow up in. A world in which people are kind and honest, a world where he can be whomever he was born to be without the fear of prejudice or persecution.
Above all, it is my HOPE that he always knows how much his mother loves him.
You see, love is found in the small things we do for our children, not because they are necessary, but because we simply hope to see them smile. It is found in the things we do for them that they might not even notice or appreciate, but we know they make a difference.
Things like sitting in an uncomfortable position for hours because my sick baby has finally found rest in my lap. Like reading Spot Goes to the Beach for the hundredth time because I know it’s his favorite book. Or acting like a fool in public because I know my animal noises will always cheer him up when he’s sad.
And yes, even things like having a themed one-year old Birthday party, although I know he is sure to forget it the very next day.
Those are the things that carry with them all the hopes and dreams I have for my son. And all the love I feel for him.
So Happy 1st Birthday Oliver. I hope you enjoyed the Outer Space Expedition party. And above all, I hope you know how much I love you.
PS Daddy is insisting on a dinosaur theme for next year. Think it over and get back to me.