Birthday ball

By Published On: April 4th, 2016

Chasing a toddler around all day puts me to bed […]

1Chasing a toddler around all day puts me to bed faster than sipping NyQuil and folding socks. The night brings a baby screaming for a) midnight snacks, b) snuggles in my bed and/or c) lost pacifiers. The day-time runaround coupled with the night-time demands ensures that I wake up more slowly than a narcoleptic teenager: Right opens a bit, left eye goes next, and then all the light is too harsh for my tired eyes. So both eyes shut again until someone (usually the husband or the dog) wakes me for real.
Two days ago, my aching and sleepy body heard my mom and sister, Caiter, planning what sounded suspiciously like a surprise breakfast birthday party. A surprise breakfast birthday party? Whooda thunk it? Not me—but sounds fun! Max and I were visiting my mom for the week, and the two of us were cuddled up on the living room couch trying to sneak a couple more minutes of sleep. The sun was up, and laughter rang out from the kitchen. But we snuggled close and fought for glorious shuteye. (That’s right, ladies and gents: He’ll sleep in the morning but not the night. So it goes.)
“Shhh! Momma, quiet! Can you hand me the frosting?” – Caiter
“Oh, it’s fine—we’re almost ready! Here, hang the banner above the table.” – Mom
3And then a ball rolled by. Lordy, I’d heard about the love between a boy and a ball, but I never knew it to be true until that morning. A beach ball rolled out from the kitchen, and then “BA!!! BA!!! BA!!!” rang out from my bitty boy. Max, wide-eyed and wiggling with excitement, escaped my arms and went after the “BA!!! BA!! BA!!” Guess birthday boy knows three words now: momma, dada and BA!!!
I followed Max as he chased the ball to make sure the speedy duo (baby and beach ball) didn’t knock over or shatter anything as they tumbled and raced. We were in the kitchen within minutes, and (as I kinda guessed because I was sleeping on the couch and THEY ARE SO LOUD WHEN I’M SLEEPING) my mom and sister shouted “Surprise!” A ‘Happy Birthday’ sign hung above the window, presents decorated the table, and a #1 brownie-cake cooled on the counter. I said, “Thank you, thank you! I love it all, and Max loves the ball,” as my grandma and dad entered the kitchen.
2Max clapped as my family sang, “Happy birthday to youuuuu,” and I thought about how motherhood brings new meaning to birthdays. Before Max, birthdays simply meant cakes with candles, presents with bows, and a day letting loved ones know ‘I’m so glad you’re here!’ Now, however, I really get the squishy sentiment behind the glitter and gifts: It took work (pregnancy is hard and labor is painful) to get you here, but once that happened you made (and continue to make) this world a better place. Your smile brightens my day, your laughter makes me forget my cares, and all I wanna do is snuggle close, help you explore and watch you grow strong.
That sentiment might feel like it belongs tucked close between a mom and her babe, but that’s not 100 percent correct. ‘Cause here’s the thing: My appreciation for individuals fills my cup and spills right over into my other relationships. Birthdays for friends-that-feel-like-family and birthdays for family-members-that-feel-like-friends make me grateful for the unique gifts, talents and joy that people bring not only to my life, but also to the world around them.
Max? Thanks for teaching me just how truly special birthdays are. And Mom and Caiter? Thanks for the party.