I'm Not Throwing a Birthday Party for My 1-Year-Old

First BirthdayMy final baby turns 1 today! I can’t believe it! One year ago at this very moment (11 a.m.), I was on the phone with my friend Rebecca. “Ugh, these Braxton-Hicks contractions are the worst,” I complained.

“You’ve had, like, three since we got on the phone,” she told me.

“I know, they’re so bad! I must have to poop!”

“Or maybe you’re in labor,” she told me.

Naah. My due date isn’t for another week!” I scoffed. An hour later, I was feet-in-the-stirrups and screaming for my epidural. Hoo boy, the joke was on me.

I should be preparing for a big first-birthday party for the darling little earthy-eyed love who has so enriched my life, right? Er ... no.


Abby is my fourth kid if you count the steps, and my second if you count ones that came out of me. I missed Max and Eli’s first birthdays, obviously (that would have been awkward). When my first daughter Penelope turned 1, I had a pile of presents that dwarfed her, wrapped in paper that I hand-decorated myself. The following weekend, we rented a picnic table at the local rec center, and a crowd of people showed up -- mostly adults -- and we chatted and drank mimosas while the babies crawled around eating sand.

And that was mild. I have one friend who rented out a whole restaurant for his first kid’s first birthday, and most of his stories about it revolved around how drunk his cousins got. I can’t even guarantee the kid was invited!

In contrast, Abby’s presents are ... the presence of her family? She doesn’t need anything, our apartment is packed to the gills with things that beep and light up in amusing ways, and as Rebecca pointed out this morning, the wrapping paper is more entertaining to her than gifts at this age.

Plus, she doesn’t have any real friends. She has other babies that she makes out with, and that’s awesome, but it’s not like she requests a play date with Pia over Laszlo.

I’m about to post this story and then make her some lemon cupcakes with lemon-curd frosting, then bring them out to a playground and take pictures of her shoving one in her mouth. (I have the same picture of Penelope, with a pumpkin cupcake.) We’ll all sing, “help” blow out the candle, and have a great day, during which I’ll dissolve into tears several times because I’m so grateful for my wonderful family.

In years to come, I’ll organize a weekend shindig with friends, decorations, and elaborate activities. But right now, all a 1-year-old needs is love, and climbing on the slide, and her usual nap time. Her birthday is complete, just like our family is.

Now I just have to plot ways to get my hands on other babies, now that mine’s -- snf! -- barely a baby anymore. Here I go! Get me the festive birthday Kleenex!

Do/will you throw a birthday party for your 1-year-old?

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