What’s a First Birthday, really?



To be honest, first birthdays are kind of a nothing thing, aren’t they? The child won’t remember it, and it’s potluck whether they will even enjoy themselves at the time. I’ve heard the theory that a child’s first birthday (especially if it’s a first child) is more a celebration for the mother: she’s survived a year of parenthood. I subscribed to this mentality for a while, but a party for myself wasn’t going to be feasible either — and not because I don’t have many local friends (I have more of an electronic, web-enabled, social life), but because any photos would show me as a callous birthday hijacker. And that’s when I realised what Timmy’s First Birthday celebration really was; all it really was: album fodder.

Sure, he won’t remember it. But I imagine he’d be disappointed to later discover I’d used that as an excuse to be lazy and not celebrate it, or worse, had the house decked with sparkly banners saying ‘Congratulations Eve!’, and tower coffee cake with double-shot-espresso icing and child-inappropriate choking hazard embellishments.

So I prepared to get as many party-esque photos as I could, of Timmy’s day. It didn’t matter that he was the only one wearing a party hat (or that he hated it), as long as when he looks back at photos he could see I’d thought of having it. It’s party-appropriate. It didn’t matter that the ice cream cake was eaten only by grownups, in the end, as long as he could see he had one, appropriately decorated in his designated colour — green — making it still ‘his’ cake. The cake was for dessert at his birthday dinner (the one eaten by grownups, which he missed because he’d gone to bed by then), but so I could show him he’d had his own celebratory cake, and to get accompanying pictures, I made sure he had an ice cream cupcake of the same theme as the main one. And his got the candle.

cake-500pxWhat else do birthdays have? Ah, presents. Well, he had plenty of those, courtesy of generous family from both sides of the Tasman Sea. The trouble was he didn’t seem particularly interested in them. Even in the paper. They didn’t make music, light up, or fit in his mouth — this disqualified them as an object of interest. They were just big boxes.

Most of the day was a write-off. Timmy had been having a string of difficult days where he’d be grumpy and irritable for no apparent reason, and he wasn’t going to let any special date stop him in this anarchistic phase. The only happy-looking photos I got of him were first thing in the morning — staged ones, where he wasn’t actually doing anything. I imagine he was just amused at watching his mother running around setting up birthday-looking photo props of presents and cupcakes, as he just spectated from his dining chair perch.

The day was all about getting festive photos of what didn’t actually happen, just so he can feel good about it later. In reality, he wasn’t enthralled with ice cream. Or with shiny party hats. Or with presents. Or even with their wrapping. He especially wasn’t enthralled with candle flame after he tried to hold it.

Birthday parties, really, are wasted on babies. But at least I got photos for his album, even if only for him to see at least the day was celebrated. And most importantly, I can tick my metaphorical box. The one that says, as this child’s mother, I did something to positively commemorate the day I stopped getting weekends.

He enjoyed playing with his new toys the next day though, so I suspect I’ll incorporate some photos of that into his birthday scrapbook page. It doesn’t matter that his smiles were on a different day. Hooray for creative freedoms.

First bike



(2) Comments

  • Leanne
    30 Apr 2013

    Heh .. heh… you’re a grownup!

  • Duncan Lennox on Facebook
    30 Apr 2013

    What a great birthday dinner we had – seemed a pity to have it after Timmy had gone to bed. 🙂

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