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It Was The Best of Days, It Was The Worst of Days

I’ve survived it. And the good news is, I’ll never have to go through it again.

The bad news is, I’ll never get to go through it again.

I’m talking about Madeleine’s first birthday, of course. I’ve been moping (vocally, and at great length) about it for a while now, and it’s happened. Over. Finito.

She’s now officially into the been-there-done-that part of her life. Maddie can look back and think to herself, “Now, let’s see, what was I doing this time last year? Oh, yes, pooping and sleeping. Man, I was such a baby.” And as for me, I now get to compare her today to where she was a year ago, and stare in disbelief for a few minutes every new morning.

Truth be told, the birthday itself wasn’t so bad. I won’t tell you I didn’t cry a bit putting her to bed the night before, realizing she’d have crossed the invisible line when I went in to get her the next morning. But the whole day was such a joy – so much fun, so many new things to watch her discover – that I found myself enjoying it in spite of my stubborn attempt to wallow.

first_birthday_013.jpgWe took her out for breakfast in her favorite café. Madeleine’s favorite breakfast is a bagel with a schmear of cream cheese (cheap date), so the day was off to an auspicious start for her. The park afterwards was suspiciously empty, almost as if it had been reserved just for her, so she went wild in it. Well, as wild as a one-year-old who refuses to walk without holding on to a grownup’s hand can go.

Then came Maddie’s first big First of the day. In honor of Flag Day our neighborhood had organized a small community parade, and it assembled on our street. So we got to walk up and down the street, listening to the marching bands and fifers and bagpipers while watching the twirlers practice importantly. She was in awe of the big kids and their instruments and couldn’t decide where to point first, what to look at next.

first_birthday_043.jpgThe day was so busy she took her first nap in the car on the way to the next First – the zoo. When she awoke rested and refreshed, she discovered she was in an amazing world where her storybook animals came to life! We wandered around the Bronx Zoo for several hours, and I mean that literally: a good portion of the time was spent with Madeleine practically running forward while some unfortunate adult ran next to her, half bent over as Maddie held the supporting fingers. I swear, that kid walked a good couple of miles. My back’s got the aches to prove it.

After she wore us all out at the zoo, her Highness chatted the whole drive home, then deigned to take a nap for an hour and a half (much to the relief of the exhausted adults). A fantastic grilled steak dinner, and then on to her next First – birthday cake.

Let me say here that the cake was a topic of much discussion. We’re trying to avoid junk or processed or “empty” foods for her until she’s 2, and I am not keen on giving her a big taste of sugar and then leaving her to stare at it hungrily for the next year. But I understood my husband’s desire to give her a great first birthday, so we compromised.

I made a healthier cake – yogurt instead of butter, very low sugar - and she got to take a piece and cram it into her mouth all at once.

first_birthday_067.jpgShe started off licking the frosting down a bit at a time, staring at us the whole while as if suspicious that something that good would be snatched from her if left unguarded. I broke off a few small pieces and fed them to her; she got the picture and began picking off small bites for herself. Then, urged on by her dad, she picked up the whole piece and crammed it into her mouth.

And I have to admit, she looked pretty cute.

Opening her gifts helped burn off the excess of sugar running through her veins, though she couldn’t decide what to play with first and got so wound up with her new toys we had a bit of a time encouraging her to put her things away and go to bed. But she was truly pooped and went pretty easily, clutching a new bunny a grandma knit for her.

And after she was asleep, Brian and I spent the rest of the night watching her hospital video and clutching each other for comfort. I can’t believe my baby’s grown up, heading into the next phase of her life. She never looks back, and it seems that’s all I spend my time doing sometimes.

As my husband said that night, “If last year was so hard and sucked so often (and it did), then why are we so sad to see it over?”

Dunno, but it’s true. 


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