I started counting down to his birthday when I realized that the two containers of formula I purchased two and a half weeks earlier were going to be his last. "No more bottles in a couple weeks...." I said several times, letting it trail off just like that, putting it out into the universe to see how it felt. Saddened at the thought of no longer getting that one-on-one feeding time before nap and bed (but, happy at the thought of no longer washing bottles!). I thought about his upcoming birthday when making his one year doctor appointment. And felt it sink in when commenting to those who asked how old he was that he would be one in 12, 8, 5, 2 days. The first birthday was fast approaching.
Time doesn't stand still in anticipation for a child's birthday, despite any amount of pleading from a desperate mother. And, just like that, it was here. I got my happy one-year old from his crib that morning. Whispered, "Happy Birthday" to him as we stood and he played with the blinds at the window, like always. I just stared at him. He looked the same, no different. But, he was different. It felt different to me. A lump crept to my throat, the same one I had on Kendan's first birthday. The familiar pressure on my chest and racing heart as I smile through tears in my eyes. But, I didn't cry. It's hard to when your baby is jumping up and down in your arms while "vrooming" at the car passing in the street below. I got him dressed and we descended to the kitchen for breakfast, just like always, nothing changed.
I picked up a smash cake that day and baked a bigger cake for the people who didn't want to eat the one Damien was going to dig his fingers into. We went to the park with Mamaw and Grandpa Guy who flew in for the occasion. It was clear outside, the sun was shining. Warm enough in February so that we wouldn't need coats. The birthday boy squealed on the swings and slide, oblivious to what made that day so special. Oblivious every day as to what makes him so special. An under-whelming first cake experience and a couple presents later, he had been one for a full day. I said goodnight to him that evening, he was worn out from YBD. I gave him his blankie and he burrowed his head into it on my shoulder. I just held him, thankful that he doesn't lift his head right away. He's happy to be held close at bed time, just like every night, nothing changed. And, even though invitations weren't sent out, streamers were not hung, and the house wasn't full of party-goers, Damien's first birthday was special. It was sweet, low-key, and full of happiness. I cannot think of a more perfect day for a baby who embodies all of those qualities.
D. Brother. Muppet. You have given your family such joy in a very short year. We are blessed to have your smile and laughter every day, please do not let us forget it. You mimic every sound you hear. You eat more than all of us combined. You had four molars before your two front teeth came through. You give the sloppiest, open-mouthed kisses. You are silly. And content. And one. We love you. Happy Birthday!