As our mancub's first birthday approaches, we're discussing how we want to celebrate year one.
1. To party or not to party?
In some ways, we want to go all-out. It's his very first one after all! We want to invite everyone, and eat all the food and make sure he gets all the presents.
Also, we don't want to do that at all.
12 months is still an unpredictable age with our little guy. Some days, he's just really not feeling people. He's moody, doesn't sleep well, and makes a mess of his outfit one way or another. Like it or not, entertaining is a bit of a performance. I don't resent that it is at all. I enjoy entertaining. I enjoy it more when I'm honest with myself about the fact that there's an "on-ness" about it, and prepare accordingly. So yeah, it seems a lot to ask of our kid, mood-swinger that he is, to entertain folks for a couple hours.
2. For him or for us?
It's also occurred to us that what we really want to celebrate is this milestone for our FAMILY. Birthdays are about the person who was born, but this year, it also feels like a time to recognize the transformation Mitch and I went through 12 months ago, and where we've ended up as a result, going from couple to parents. Again, on one hand we're proud and want to invite everyone over to recognize this with us. On the other, we want to process it just the three of us—read through the baby book, look back at the pictures, maybe pull out some of the infant things, eat a cupcake and leave time for a little crying if we want.
3. Presents or no?
Do we want to buy a lot of gifts? Do we want to create potential for others to buy gifts? What kind of gifts? Toys? Clothes? Books? We're both easily overwhelmed by extra stuff, but then again, it's nice to get items from others that make us think of them. We love that Phoenix's collection of items has come from all over—handed down, made, bought new, repurposed, thrifted—it's a beautiful hodgepodge, and I'm all for having it continue!
4. Am I a bad mom?
Cordelia gave Phoenix his birthday present early. A second-hand book, snatched with care from the take-and-leave neighborhood box, and a wooden car to suit his ever-growing taste for anything with wheels. I loved helping him open them, and immediately felt defensive. I said something like, "It's nice to open gifts huh? I'm sorry I'm a bad mom and don't want to throw you a party."
Even though I don't really think there's a wrong way to go about it, I'm clearly feeling a little insecure about saying "no," whether it's to a party, toys, or anything else. Am I keeping him from a good thing? Am I being selfish? Sometimes I feel defensive that others might think so. I call myself a #badmom to beat others to the punch, shouting out my insecurity for all to hear. I don't think I'm a bad mom, yet I'm aware that I seem uptight sometimes, and totally negligent at others.
Ultimately, I want to do right by our little dude. I am weighing our choices, and doing my best to support him in his individuality. We bought Phoenix pajamas, a pacifier clip, and little fox ornament for his birthday...no toys. Not on purpose, just because that's what we saw and wanted to get him, and I hope he loves them. If he doesn't, I'll make note for future gifts.
All this to say, we don't have any right answers, we're making the best choices we can, and learning from them. Maybe we'll have a party. Maybe we won't. Maybe he'll get lots of gifts, and maybe he won't. Maybe we won't do the same thing next year, or with another kid. And I'll probably wonder if it's the best way every time. And because of that, I'll drop the whole #badmom racket, and fumble on doing my best, remembering I chose to be #MOM period. We'll celebrate that he made me one a year ago. Regardless of how we do it, the point is we'll be celebrating, because it's the greatest thing we've all experienced together yet, and we really can't help it.