My birthday last month was nice, but it was nothing like the birthdays of past years, when I was a big birthday diva (Big with a capital B last year). This year, I didn't really feel like the world owed me a major celebration of my existence. I mostly just worked a lot (and ate potato chips for lunch).
This year, I'm all about May 12th. I've been dreaming and scheming about Leo's first birthday for months. Mostly because I cannot wait to see the child meet a great big chocolate frosted cake for the first time in his life. For the occasion, Aaron is working on a DVD of all the mini-movies we've made of Leo on our camera. I cannot wait to watch as he goes from a wee stretching and grimacing old man to the big bruiser he is now. (Have I mentioned that he's eating nanny Elizabeth's cooking like it's going out of style? Which I suppose it is, since I'll be finishing my full-time project this week, and he'll be with her just 18 hours a week starting on Monday). I have become that parent who thinks there is nothing more fascinating than home movies of their child doing just about nothing.
I've been talking about Leo's cake for so long that Aaron is getting impatient. At least, I think that's why he convinced me I should make a 'test' cake last weekend, just to be sure my concept would work out on the Big Day. I'm thinking of a banana cake with chocolate frosting, made to look like a monkey face. The tester was very tasty, so I'm including the recipe.
All this tizzy about Leo's first birthday is not just about Leo though. It's also a lot about me. This first year has been so hard. I don't wish anything different about it. But it's been tough. Even just functioning on the amount of sleep we've had this past year would have been an accomplishment. Even just learning how to do so many new things would have been an accomplishment. Swaddle? Check. Breastfeed? Check. Puree kale? Check. Carry a stroller, baby and bags up stairs? Check. Have a life while revolving entirely around a needy, irrational being? Working on it.
Leo's constant evolution has been as exhausting to witness, and foster, as it has been exciting. Today for example, he learned to climb up onto the couch. Gravity however remains undiscovered. My own evolution has been exhausting too. And to be honest, I'm hoping to undo some of it. To exercise again, to reinvest in my love life and social life. To grow my career and shrink my posterior. But when Aaron looks at me and says "You're a wonderful mom," I believe him. Even when I know I could be better, I know that I love Leo with all my strengths--my intelligence, my compassion, my good sense and my creativity. And I'm proud of how much I've learned this year. The cake, the balloons, the videos and dressing up and singing will be for Leo, but they'll mean a lot more to me than they do to him. And if Leo claps when we sing Happy Birthday, as he is wont to do whenever someone sings, I may just take a bow.