Today my oldest guy as of 7:55pm will be 6 years old. Having three kids, I work hard to make their birthdays special...mind you, those young enough not to remember their birthday cakes might end up getting cupcakes instead. Those who are 6 are getting the full deal with me hiring my wonderfully talented, but smart ass friend to make his ocean themed cake. So when my kids are in therapy, their birthday cakes are not going to be a subject for discussion.
All that said, there is something special for me for my oldest's birthday, because it marks the day when I first became a mother. Sure, you can say that starts at conception, but it's a totally different deal when you have a baby on the outside and you have to change diapers, nurse around the clock and get less sleep than you could possibly imagine. You also get to experience that love and wonder for the first time when you hold that little gift in your arms and not to over romaticize it, you also get to experience the panic that you feel when you have your first bout of "Baby's crying and nothing I can do is making him stop!!!" Me, I bravely reacted to that scenario by crying my eyes out, in my defense, I was 36 hours post partum.
Two more kids for me and I can say that this parenting gig is pretty hard, but I somehow manage to do it pretty well...if I do say so myself! Once in a while, you'll get a parent to be ask you for a piece of advice, my best tidbit of wisdom is be flexible. People get all sorts of funny ideas when they first find out that they are expecting. They map out the child's life from the birth plan to education to what food they'll eat, what friends they'll have, what activities they'll do. While I'm not saying to abandon the big picture, I'm also saying don't be married to it, and all the bazillion details, are not going to be set in stone. Sure, you can have a detailed birth plan set in stone about how you're going to have that baby, but when something goes awry, it's tossed out the door and being disappointed about that when you're safe and have a healthy baby in your arms is not going to set a good pace for the next thousand years of parenting. Like when your kid picks up a friend's blaster and automatically knows what to do with it, despite your no guns rule. Or when they discover junk food and demand candy every day after Halloween for the next three months...my kids have even started early on that bent. Or even when the bigger picture gets nuked and your family changes altogether, how can you deal if you're not prepared to roll with the punches? This last year has been hard for me and my kids. I was recently criticized on my parenting and the old me would have taken that to heart and been upset, but I turned out indignant and came back at that person very strongly about my parenting skills. My kids aren't acting out horribly, they're doing well in school, socially and emotionally and as much as it is their accomplishment in rolling with the punches, it is also mine.
Parenting is a crazy job. I think a lot of people love their careers, but I can't imagine being as emotionally invested in any job as much as you are in this. You're never prepared, you always have to think on your feet. I once had to apologize to God and offer my explanation of panicking because I compared Santa Claus to Jesus. I'm sure God will understand, obviously thinking on my feet is not my forte. You can be brought to tears, experience profound wonder and laugh until your sides hurt all within a matter of a few minutes courtesy of your kids. Your endurance will be challenged in ways that would make marathon runners weep and the rewards are plentiful and amazing. With all of this going on, can you see why my advice is to be flexible.
So happy birthday to my oldest. He is a wonderfully sensitive and strong little fella. He's the first to offer someone a hug and tell them how much he loves them. He's brilliant just like his ma with an insane obsession for sharks, dinosaurs and all things prehistoric. He's funny, silly and very much the little boy who still loves to bring me bouquets of dandelions and bottlecaps. In looking at my blessings this year, me being a parent to three wonderful little guys is tops on my list, and it all started 6 years ago with my Ninja.