Monday, December 3, 2012

The Baby is One

Two days ago, Felicity turned one. I loved it, I hated it.

I adore birthdays. I will even try to celebrate your half-birthday, if you let me (with a half of a cake, naturally!). I want Flick's birthdays to be special, full of tradition, and memorable, even if she isn't the one keeping the memories at first.

I made lots of trial cupcakes, and settled on two recipes for her party. I took time thoughtfully selecting gifts that her little baby self would love, bought a bouquet of flowers for her (mixed in variety and color, because I don't know her favorite flower or color(s) yet), and found a very sweet card for her. She even got a balloon, though she's not really into balloons yet, we found out. My mom and I made a birthday banner for her during Hurricane Sandy, which Ian and I hung with great care, using a ruler and everything.

We went out for breakfast on her birthday. I took a picture and avoided crying. Then Ian left for an all-day conference an hour and half out of the city, and Felicity's babysitter came and took her for five hours so I could clean the house for her party the next day.

I tried really hard not to feel guilty about this (like I try really hard not to feel guilty about so many things): Ian had had a crazy week at work and did not have time to contribute to the housework during that week, I have been prioritizing my own research and writing (yay), and the party was scheduled for the next day, and the apartment needed a little TLC. Plus I had to buy groceries and start cooking. Also, Felicity is too young to understand the concept of a birthday, and what the day is.

I was able to accomplish an amazing lot in the five hours, and Felicity loves E., her sitter. Afterwards, I took her on a long walk, and ate bits of dried fruit and animal crackers with her at the cafe in Whole Foods. She napped in her stroller, and we did an extra-long story time before bed, with lots of cuddles and kisses. She fell into a really good, deep sleep. The sleep of a baby that has been active, laughing, reading, and interacting with someone else almost the whole day, the restful sleep of a baby that has a relaxed mother, a happy mother.

I am increasingly aware of my need to be accepted and to live up to the expectations I perceive others have for me. This whole birthday experience further highlighted this. Maybe it's because birthdays were treated a certain way in our household, with a certain sort of reverence and tradition, and that is what I want to pass on. Maybe it is because I feel the "perfect mother" would have had the house clean in the first place and would be able to handle getting ready for a party while taking care of and pleasing a baby, and that this wouldn't upset her child and exhaust her beyond her limits. I'm not sure who this perfect mother is, but she sure isn't me.

So I didn't let myself feel guilty. At the end of the day, the baby was happy, and I was happy, and she had a really lovely party yesterday afternoon.

I do believe I achieved some sort of balance. A feat, ladies and gentlemen, a feat!

Now I just have to come to grips with my baby not really being a baby anymore.