Much of your child’s early life is marked by milestones. There’s the pregnancy milestones. The birth milestones. The walking, talking, and crawling milestones.
What you may not expect, though, are the milestones you have as a parent. These can include mini-activities like going to the grocery store for the first time with baby, successfully getting baby to eat solid food and……the First Birthday.
The First Birthday is. . . big. I remember almost immediately following my daughter’s birth people started to ask “What are you going to do for her birthday?” Which, ok, it seems like it’s just me who found this weird? The first time I was asked I was like. . . have a party? The second time I was asked, I started to worry.
So, I did what any millennial parent does when they have a question—I Googled it.
First Birthday Ideas
First Birthday Activities
First Birthday Party Decorations
The more I looked, the more carried away I got. I *might* have gotten a little obsessed. I wanted everything to be absolutely perfect. The invite list grew to 50 as I searched my friends list for people with similarly aged kids. I started thinking of photo backdrops and party favors. I placed an order for 100 pink and white balloons.
The night before her birthday, we decorated the entire house. Minnie Mouse banners hung from every wall, streamers covered her high chair, 100 balloons floated high on our ceilings.
The big day arrived. When I stepped out into the living room my stomach dropped. Over half of the balloons shrank during the night and had started to fall.
I was livid. I had purposely ordered some stupid type of helium to ensure that the balloons would last multiple days to create the balloon decor of my Pinterest dreams. My baby loves balloons. And now her day would be less than perfect. I called the store, but the sixteen-year-old sales associate was in way over their head.
I took a deep breath and guests started to arrive. Family members, new parent friends, some friends that are like family, a couple of random people I invited at the last minute. Everyone wanted to see the girl of the hour, but on this day of all days, my daughter had no desire to see them. None of them.
My mom offered to take her to her room for a bottle and a little downtime while I played hostess. 15 minutes later, I checked on them, only to find baby in a deep sleep. Great.
With a house full of people waiting to see the birthday girl, I felt the anxiety creep up. Do I wake her up? If I wake her up, I know she will be cranky. That being said, I have a lot of people waiting to sing Happy Birthday to her and see her open her gifts. Do I let baby do what she needs to and rest OR do I cave to social norms and get her up? I silently argued with myself until another balloon died and bounced off my head. WTF.
I caved, hurriedly woke her up, and shuffled her into the dining room. She looked so sweet in her birthday tiara and princess dress, but I could tell she was not feeling any of this. As I carried the cake into the room, our guests began to sing Happy Birthday.
It turns out Happy Birthday is our daughter’s LEAST FAVORITE SONG. Tears began to well up in her hazel eyes as people hurriedly rushed through to the end. Upset, she refused to touch the cake, opting instead to simply stare at this frosting covered object in front of her. Another balloon fell from the ceiling. My daughter began to cry.
Later that night, after shuffling the guests out and wrapping up the uneaten cake, I replayed the events of the day in my mind. I realized that my daughter’s favorite moment was after the party when it was just the three of us, playing on the living room floor with some of the discarded tissue paper.
I had let myself get so caught up in what other people felt that a first birthday should be, that I didn’t take time to just enjoy the moment of seeing my daughter turn one.
We are approaching her second birthday now and I have made a promise to myself that, this year, it will all be about how she is feeling and what she wants to do—it’s her party after all. If she wants to eat cake, great. If not, who cares? Ultimately, the day is about celebrating our love for this little munchie.
One thing is for sure though, this year, I’m getting my balloons from a different store.