Tuesday 22 August 2017

A Family Party for a First Birthday

I still haven’t decided whether it’s better to be the first or second baby. Ebony had to put up with all my irrational fear and unrelenting anxieties around parenthood, and Ember hasn’t had to deal with any of that. But, equally, Ebony got a massive fuck off party to celebrate turning one and, erm, Ember didn’t.

It’s not that it doesn’t feel like a big deal, it does, of course. This year has gone faster than any other year of my life, I am genuinely scared I might have somehow altered time without realising. And it’s not that I don’t want to celebrate her birthday, I do. But, I guess, that first party, the one we said was for Ebony, I think maybe it was really for us. Maybe it was a way of making all of our friends and family celebrate the way we had survived that first year. Being a parent felt huge back then and now it feels like my default setting, I can’t imagine anything else.

And, of course, life was less chaotic back then. On the approach to Ebony’s first birthday, that milestone was all I could think about. I wasn’t working, I didn’t have other children to chase after, I was completely utterly focused on her birthday. It felt huge. The first of many. The celebration that would set the bar for all those that followed. I spent a long time organising it. Friends came from really far away. There was a giant cake. A room filled with friends and family. It was amazing. And stressful. Me and Laurie had terrible hangovers the next day. Worse hangovers than is socially acceptable for a first birthday party.

I don’t want any of that this time. I am working. I am busy. Time is flying by. I don’t have the opportunity to organise a big party and, even if I did, I wouldn’t want to. Ebony didn’t appreciate her first birthday party. She spent it coughing and sneezing, clinging to my arms, red circles under her eyes because she was sleepy and would rather have been in bed. One-year-olds don’t care about birthday parties. They don’t care about great aunts who have travelled miles or how long you spent on the playlist. As guest of honours go, they’re pretty unappreciative.

And so, this time, I’m not doing it. I just want to spend her birthday as a family. Me, Laurie, Ebony and Ember. Nobody else. No polite conversation, no buffet, no worrying about how to keep a room of small children entertained. Just us. I want to spend the weekend doing things she will enjoy but that we will enjoy as well. I want us all to have fun making memories as a family. It’s a bank holiday weekend which means we get an extra day to spend just the four of us and I can’t wait.

In lieu of a big celebration, we did have a tiny family party on Sunday. Just my parents and Laurie’s parents and my tiny Nanny who takes up very little room. The girls wore party dresses and we had pizza as party food. My amazing friend Becky who runs Becky’s Cake Boutique made a rainbow cake. We listened to Moana (Ebony’s request). There was bunting. It was simple, minimal, effortless. It was just enough to rid me of the mum guilt of not organising Ember a big first birthday without being so much as to feel like too much work. It was a celebration without being overwhelming. And, more importantly, it meant we saw everybody, it gave them the chance to celebrate Ember’s birthday, so that next weekend we can hang out just us. Ebony wants us to have a party, just the four of us, with loud music and dancing and jelly and ice-cream (or frozen banana, if you’re unfortunate enough to be the birthday girl who isn’t allowed sugary luxuries like jelly and ice-cream). And, to me, that sounds pretty much perfect.

ps, can you believe Ember is one on Sunday?!

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