My daughter turned 1 year old just three days ago, and this weekend will be her first birthday party. Over the last month, I’ve been asking people on the interwebs for birthday party theme ideas, and most of the ideas offered have been absolutely horrible, if not illegal in most states. Thanks for that, by the way.
Up until a few days ago I was completely lost with planning my baby girl’s party. That’s when I turned it over to the wife, who has taken the reigns and planned a fantastic weekend for us. She even got family to fly in on late notice. So far, we’ve got almost 30 people attending, including children, and have reserved a kids play center a few minutes away from home.
Last week I put up a guest post from a writer, and dad, who went all out – absolutely over the top for his kid’s first birthday, and ours will probably go the same way. If it were just a few local friends, we could get a couple of pizzas and some chicken fingers and be good to go, but since we have people flying in from all over the country we can’t serve them slop as thanks for traveling all that way. While I haven’t seen the food bill yet, I’m sure it wont be pretty.
There won’t be any clowns or baby races (at least none that were planned), and certainly no dirty diaper pinatas. Just 4,500 square feet of toys, jungle gyms, coloring books, two rooms full of screaming kids, and one birthday girl-cute as a button.
When I got up the morning of her birthday, I kissed my baby girl on the forehead, wished her happy birthday, and remarked to my wife that I never thought we’d make it to this point – the one year mark. Looking back I remembered more than a few times when my patience was tested to the point I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I remembered getting no more than a few minutes sleep before being continuously woken up by a screaming, gassy, fussy baby who needed to be bounced on a yoga ball for an hour before she would go back to bed, only to get up a half-hour later to feed again.
I’ve been hit by the errant stream of pee, got baby poop in my hair, and have been puked on more times that I can count. I’ve also cradled my daughter through blood curdling screams as she teethed night after night, knowing there was nothing I could do other than give her some Orajel and baby Tylenol – which did little to ease her pain or mine.
I remembered checking her into the hospital not once, but twice, after her coughing got so bad she could barely breathe. Those nights we spent curled up in a hospital bed while our sick little baby was hooked up to oxygen monitors were some of the toughest of our lives. It still get teary-eyed just thinking about it.
But as my wife reminded me, it hasn’t been all bad.
I watched her cut her first tooth, and several since then, that frame her precious little smile, which instantly lifts my spirit and brightens my day. I saw her first roll over from front to back, and later watched as she learned to belly flop and then crawl; and I was also on scene when she started walking on her own two feet – all of which I caught on video!
We taught her to say a few words, clap her hands, wave hello and goodbye, and even how to give a high five. We’ve probably taught her a few other things she can’t verbalize yet, but no matter how much I’ve taught her, she’s taught me so much more; and reminded me about things I’ve long since forgotten.
I wrote a guest post about those things for Christine Young’s blog – From Dates to Diapers, which you can find in an article titled, Three Life Lessons From a 10 Month Old. There I talk about how my baby girl renewed my faith, taught me patience and empathy, and reminded me that the world is a place full of wonder. I’m positive those things would elude me still if it were not for my daughter.
The first year went by incredibly fast. Most of the time I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Thankfully babies are pretty resilient; and with luck she wont have any memory of the our screw ups and failures, of which there were many, I can assure you.
I’m not one to give advice. In fact, what you get from reading this blog is probably more of how NOT to raise a child. But throughout all my epic fails, all the tearful sleepless nights, the worrying, praying, and the smiles too, I’ve learned everything turns out OK if you just shower them with love.
By “them” I mean your little baby AND her mother (that’s right – your wife!). I’m not a doctor or psychologist and I don’t know why my daughter smiles when she sees me hug and kiss my wife, but she does. If you do nothing else – be sure to give them all the love and attention you can. If you do that, I promise, the first year will be just as wonderful for you as it was for me.