Fatherhood Adventures

A child’s first birthday is something special to celebrate.

We marked this first occasion for my son last weekend with a family party at our house. Did we go overboard? Absolutely. Did we stress out and put way too much thought into it? Probably.

However, now that it has come and gone, I can say honestly I wouldn’t have wanted to do it any other way.

In the past, while attending birthday parties for little ones, I have always wondered to myself why the parents go to such great lengths to celebrate these early milestones. As a non-parent, my feeling was always the child is not going to remember any of it so why go to such trouble.

Of course, now as a parent, I understand. No matter how much you try to restrain yourself and not get carried away, it all comes down to the fact it’s your child and he only turns 1 year old once. It deserves a big celebration and with that inevitably comes a little bit of stress.

The highlight of the party for me was watching Beckett devour his little cake, which was more like a cupcake actually. He was a little slow to get going with this tradition. He seemed at first more interested in the large candle in the shape of the number ‘1’. Maybe it was all the eyes on him and the shouts of encouragement that deterred him from getting into it immediately. However, thanks to a few fingers of icing from his mother, serving as a jumpstart, and further encouragement, it didn’t take long for him to get in the act.

Of course, I was standing nearby (too close more than likely) to catch it all on video, while his mom-moms and uncle were filling the role of photographers.

Once he found his groove, his face was eventually covered with white and blue icing. It was everywhere. He had it in his hair, his eyebrows, his ears and up his nose. He made quite a mess of himself and the immediate surrounding area. That’s exactly how it should have been.

Although we celebrated the party with family last Saturday, his actual birthday was Tuesday. With the big party behind us, the day of his birthday was sort of anti-climatic at his age. It served more as an opportunity for my wife and I to reflect back over the last year and all that has transpired since he joined us in this world.

In the days leading up to his birth, there was a lot of planning and waiting. All the preparations had been long made. What you thought you would need as far as essentials go in welcoming a baby into the house had already been procured. The nursery was ready. Some advice books on how to handle the transition had been read or at least flipped through for the gist. We were full of anticipation and hoping the agonizing wait would end soon.

Once our son arrived, life was forever changed. From that point on, everything took on a new meaning. Life was all about this precious, little soul that made us a family. His wants and needs dominated everything and on most levels were found to be more important than our own. That’s pretty much how it remains today with a 1-year-old child, and we would have it no other way.

However, a birthday is special because it provides an opportunity to relive all that’s transpired. Although I have only been a father for a year, it’s easy for me to say raising a child has been the most enjoyable experience of my life. Sure, there have been a few sleepless nights along the way, but it’s funny how that’s not what you remember. There have been so many wonderful memories, none of which have anything to do with sleep.

As I look back and review the last year since Beckett was born, it’s difficult not to do so without experiencing a wave of tremendous emotion. When I think about how much he has changed and developed since May 12, 2008, I can’t help but inevitably be overwhelmed with feelings of pride and admiration.

I have never discussed this here, but Beckett had a rough beginning. He spent a couple weeks in the hospital after he was born and those were terribly difficult for his mother and I. Days seemed like weeks and hours like days as we watched and waited for our son to open his eyes and be removed from all that hospital equipment. For any parent, it’s beyond words to see your child struggle and not have the ability to help. My wife and I felt that pain within the first days of his life. Perhaps that explains why those feelings of pride come with such heavy emotions. At least that helps me justify a little bit why I am so moved when I think about my son and how he has progressed throughout his first year.

Beckett is now considered a toddler, and most of his attention is directed at walking on his own. He has not quite mastered it, but the daily improvements are obvious. He seems to have the necessary strength but needs a little help with his balance, relying mostly on his walker toys or a trusty hand from one of his parents. We expect any day he will just take off on his own. We thought he might be ready by his birthday, but that was not to be.

Now that all the first birthday stuff has passed, I completely understand why parents go crazy over birthdays. For parents, a child’s birthday is a reminder of one of life’s greatest miracles, and that’s worth a grand celebration and even all the headaches and stress that may or may not come with it.

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