When I first found out Kelly's due date--March 10--I freaked out a little. "Oh nooooo..." I wailed. "That's the day after Teege's birthday...it will take away from his special month..." (Ah yes. The notion of a birthday "month". One of just many concerns of the parent of a single child, which quickly melted away once #2 came along!)
I remember waddling around the grocery store on TJ's 3rd birthday, days after giving birth (and roundly disobeying doctor's orders by driving there), desperate to pick out the perfect birthday cake (and already giving myself a giant, painful, appropriately Irish guilt trip for not actually BAKING it). We were so concerned about TJ being somehow scarred by sharing his birthday week with his younger sibling that we celebrated his party a whole month earlier that year, just to ensure that it would be ALL ABOUT HIM. I shuddered to think about--GASP--all the future joint birthday parties they would have to share. (We also tried to expiate our guilt by getting him a Wii that year. A freaking Wii. FOR A THREE-YEAR-OLD.)
But we figured it out.
Well, 6 years of parenthood have taught me that--surprise!--kids can be amazingly resilient. With their birthdays being four days apart, it simply makes for a festive, joyful week of celebrating both of our children. This year, we started off with a joint party at a local bouncy place (which, I believe, I had turned my nose up at in this very blog several years ago). It was terrific--they provided pizza, paper goods, and tons of activities for the kiddies. We didn't invite their entire classes--just a few special buddies for each, plus their cousins. For favors, we gave out wooden model sets to the boys, Make it/Bake it stained glass kits for the girls (total 80s throwback), and painting pads for the little ones. Throw in a few cakes (one dinosaur, one princess--yes, I have CAVED) from Acme and we were good to go.
For the actual birthdays, we did a special dinner (local pizza place for Kelly, Mickey D's for Teege) followed by dessert with close family (cupcakes with purple frosting for Kelly, ice cream sundae bar for Teege). At dinner, we started a new tradition--each family member shared what they love about the birthday kid. We also squeezed in a living room slumber party one night (we had done this over Christmas break one night, sleeping with the Christmas tree lights on).
On Sunday, NR and I were actually kind of...bummed that Birthday Week was over.
With TJ's birthday being on a Saturday this year, I was more reflective than usual. I couldn't help but relive that long, terrifying day in the delivery room...the neverending labor, the shock of finally meeting him, and the terror--yes, sheer terror--I felt that night when NR left me with this screaming, tiny newborn. I remember clutching him awkwardly in my arms, feeling so alone, staring out the hospital window at the streets of Hoboken, wondering how on earth I would ever feel maternal. Mourning the life we were leaving, and so uncertain of the life we were beginning.
But we figured it out.
Flash forward to three years later, after a cakewalk delivery for Kelly, and a joyful day filled with family and friends. That screaming infant in Hoboken had turned into a fascinating little boy whom I was deeply in love with. Yet now, my fear was how I could possibly share this all-consuming love with another little one...my new baby girl.
And I figured it out.
As for parenthood...while the joy is insurmountable, there are new challenges all the time. And with two very different children whom I love equally and probably irrationally at times, I'm learning that "good" parenting can mean different things for different kids. Just as a woman's body was made to give birth (and recover!), so too does a mom's heart--and expectations--adjust accordingly. There will always be more room, it will always adapt.
That's not to say I have it all figured out...yet. :)