The cake had been baked and frosted, as had two dozen cupcakes.
The party drinks were out and the food was ready. Family and friends that are like family all gathered to celebrate Charlie’s first birthday. The crowd had assembled and was ready to party. Even the birthday boy was relaxed and enjoying himself.
Things started out smoothly enough. People were milling about in conversation. Kids and toddlers were running through the house screaming and tossing balloons. Yes, it was supposed to be a nice summer afternoon, but the wind was blowing about 30 mph. So sitting outside wasn’t really an option. Sure it was a bit noisy, but nothing we weren’t used to. We have a big family and gatherings are noisy affairs.
But the birthday boy wasn’t having any of it. Poor Charlie lost it. He cried. He sobbed. He couldn’t catch his breath. What made this even more stressful for me, was that I had carefully planned out every detail of this day (see my previous control freak post.)
And crying was not in the plans. What was especially unusual is that Charlie just doesn’t cry. He has been poked and prodded much more than the average baby. Blood draws, shots, you name it. No tears shed. Apparently he had been saving things up and the floodgates opened. He cried all through dinner. We had cake and ice cream without him. Big brother Henry opened up all of the presents.
Charlie and I (with Nana and Alex each taking a turn) sat in his room rocking and trying to soothe our little guy. Two hours later he gave into sleep. It was as though once he started crying he didn’t know how to stop.
As I sat and rocked my baby I considered many things. (Obviously my primary focus was on comforting my baby, but I still had a chance to let my mind run.) Honestly – “are you kidding me!?!” Seriously, after our last year couldn’t we have had this one day go smoothly? But you know what? I decided not to go there. I wasn’t going to give the enemy any glory on that day. I made the decision to focus on the goodness of my son. How lucky I was to simply rock him and hold him in my arms while those closest to us sang “Happy Birthday” in the next room. OK, I did shed a few quiet tears, but they were happy tears. It felt good to tuck this last year under our belt and move forward with a fresh perspective.
The next morning Charlie woke up all smiles. It was as if the crying episode hadn’t ever happened. He happily played with his new toys. Alex, Henry, Charlie and I sat around on the floor playing and laughing as a family. There were still remnants of the party the night before, but for now we were focused on each other. Just like any family. No thoughts of what if’s, or what might have been. We were happy to be in the present moment with only the future ahead of us.
Wait! What did you say? No photos of baby smearing cake and frosting all over his face? Well worry no more. Henry and I decided that we would celebrate Charlie’s first birthday when no one else was around. It was a quiet affair – just the three of us. And Charlie followed directions and smeared away….
And the day before the “big day” Henry made a birthday cake (mud pie) for his little brother. He even served the “cake” to his brother at breakfast. I was busy making Charlie’s real breakfast and obviously didn’t see Henry sneak back into the house, but did take a quick picture before returning the “cake” back to the sandbox. However, Charlie was clearly thrilled with his big brother’s cake. (Note the pre-haircut hair.)