There’s something about the new year and birthdays that feel the same to me. It makes sense. Both occasions mark the end and beginning of a year and both hold nostalgia and hope tightly in the celebration.
But mostly, now that I’m a parent, the way they both ceremoniously mark the passage of time carries more weight to me than it used to.
A new year looks so much different on the cheeks of my children. Actually, a new week looks different on them at these stages in their lives. At three and one they seem to stretch and grow and get more brilliant over night. Last week my husband and I left for a quick, four day vacation and when we came back our one year old went from toddling to running and our three year old graduated from working on letter recognition to basically writing novels.
Or at least that’s what it felt like. Also, I think they both grew like three feet when we were busy eating out at restaurants without them.
Oh, how nice it was to eat a meal without them.
I guess that’s what we get as parents—that constant yearning of wanting time to stand still and wishing it to move along already, at least to a time where mittens are easier.
Now that will be an occasion to celebrate.
Not that I am the kind of mom who needs an excuse. Nope. I pretty much love an occasion, especially one that calls for a new outfit, a theme and an excuse to eat cake. And with two daughters who celebrate birthdays during the holiday season, I have been pretty much stuck in celebration, nostalgia, time-slow-down, oh -my-gosh-why-so-much-glitter mode for a good solid month and a half, with no plans to slow down until long after the ball drops and we’re trading candy canes for a heart shaped box of chocolate.
I can’t help myself, because while having these kids around definitely makes all the little things in life harder (i.e. mittens), they also make the little things worth celebrating. I think that’s why I like to make a big deal out of birthdays, because it’s a culmination of all of the milestones we survived as a family navigating how to live together happily (or as happily as possible). And I use the word survived because, yeah, first words and first steps are things to commemorate, but maybe even more worthy is the fact that we got through that three week run when we brought the baby home where everyone but dad was in diapers and no one but dad was sleeping. Or the phase where our oldest expressed her distaste for disruption by hitting everyone she loves, which was followed by her utter refusal to stay in bed for two weeks straight.
Or, simply the fact that we make it through suppertime every night is something to celebrated in and of itself.
So I spend the money on decorations. I buy the cute onesie with her name on it. I take the six-month and one-year photos. I book a poolroom, invite the family and we cut the cake that coordinates with the outfit and the theme. We sing. We dance. We fill up our house. We stay up late and eat too much junk and go a little overboard with it. Because why not? It’s life friends. And most of the time
it’s messy and sorta scary, frustrating, tiring and, right now, constantly sticky for some reason. Most of the time I’m wondering if I’m doing any of it right. But give me a birthday, a new year, an excuse for a party, a commemoration, a reason to spoil these kids that drive me crazy with anxiety and all encompassing love, and well, I know how to do that right.
Happy New Year Prairie Parents. Inside this issue you’ll find New Year musings and a great feature on local cake makers in case you want to go all out with your celebration this year!
Cheers to milestones, big and small.