Walker started his 1st birthday the same way he started his actual birthday — by greeting Kalamai, the labor and delivery nurse. The greeting was a bit less traumatic today than a year ago. He only had to get out of his car seat to say “hi”. We thought it would be nice to thank Kalamai with a bottle of wine, a card with Walker’s photo on it, and introduce her to the sweet little boy she helped bring into the world. She works from 11pm to 8am and stayed past her shift until Walker was born (something, I’m told, very few nurses do). Her care and skill meant so much to us at the time and it was very important for us to express our gratitude. We got up and bolted out of the house at 7:30am in order to catch her. We made it just in time — she was stopping by the nurses’ station as she headed out. There was Walker, on Daddy’s back, reaching out to say “hi” as we handed her the wine. We had to wait a few moments to document the moment because she was so overwhelmed. (We overheard another nurse proclaim, “None of my patients have ever done that!”)
As I’ve been planning today’s activities, I’ve been very adamant that today is all about Walker. It’s not about us. However, this morning I was thinking more about what today really meant (not just what were were going to DO) and I realize, perhaps it is about us, maybe just a little bit. The last year has been amazing and exhausting and full of adventure and beyond my wildest expectations. My sister asked me the other day if I’m full of love for Walker. I’m not what you’d consider a “Romantic” so I don’t think of it in those terms but, suffice it to say, I can’t imagine my life any other way. I love the time I spend with Walker and I don’t miss traveling, movies, day long-excursions, or anything else that might take me away from the time I have with Walker. I love my job and am so glad I’m working. It maintains my sanity and keeps me balanced which is essential to my being a calm and nurturing mother. And, my free time with the Little Man is so precious that I’m present every moment (uh oh, that was getting a bit overly introspective for me).
I think Walker knows there’s something special today. He awoke smiling with rosy red cheeks and singing “mama” and “dada”. As we were having breakfast, Walker was eating and I was making faces at him. He just giggled away and it was the most incredible sound I’ve ever heard. (He giggled so much, there was some projectile cereal that decorated my face so that was the end of that.)
Yesterday, I dropped Walker off at Sofiya’s and she brought out a present for him. All the kids sat down and sang Walker “Happy Birthday”. It really made it real that he’s 1. His little 2-3 year old friends sang to him. He is a little person with his own life and his own friends. He’s ours and yet he’s his own person. I can’t think of a better gift.
Sofiya planned a big birthday bash for Walker. Gigi, Daddy and I arrived at 11:30ish to a din of activity. Helen and the kids sang a bunch of songs to Walker including a song about fingers which Walker thought was the funniest song he’s ever heard (of course, he hasn’t really been able to understand the Barenaked Ladies kid’s album SNACKTIME which is, in fact, the funniest set of songs he’s heard). When they sang “Happy Birthday” to him the first time (they sang it at the beginning and the end of the show), I had to choke back the sobs as to not freak out the little kids next to me. Walker was overwhelmed at the beginning but really got into the music, playing the bells and skillfully banging on the drum. As the kids danced around, he sat with Mommy and smiled or crawled through the mob of children. In a few short months, he’ll be on his feet, dancing around with everyone and there will be no stopping him.
When it was time to wind down with a Thomas the Tank Engine story, we gathered up our Birthday Boy and whisked him to his next birthday event — lunch with Uncle Thayer, PopPop, Zia Hilary, Gigi, Mommy and Daddy at Jillian’s, a local sports bar/restaurant downtown. (Chosen because of its proximity to the old Carousel that used to be at Playland — the Ocean Beach amusement park that entertained children for so many years. The plan was to dine and then introduce Walker to the joy of the Merry-Go-Round.) Walker caught a few minutes of sleep during the commute and was ready to be the most charming and attentive child for his birthday lunch. He was very polite and cheerful, albeit a bit quiet, during the lunch and present opening. And there were A LOT of presents. He is very well loved. He got some neat clothes, books, toys and a picture of a rare octopus his Uncle took in a homemade submarine at 2400 feet under the sea. Walker enjoyed the big dinner candle in the middle of his carrot cake (just like his Daddy’s first birthday candle) and at 2:30, we wrapped it up and packed up the stroller. I poured Walker into his carriage (he was so tired he appeared to be in a waking dream) and determined that I couldn’t jam ONE MORE THING into his big day. The carousel would have to wait.
Walker fell asleep in his carseat before we left the garage.
Twenty minutes later, we arrived home and Gigi offered to sit in the car with him while he napped. I warned her we could be in for the long haul. Ninety minutes later (and a few digital Solitare games and a phone meeting) Larry delivered two big glasses of water. Yes, we sat in the car for two hours while the Birthday Boy recharged his engines.
And now it’s 11pm and Gigi is jetting her way home, the kitties are snuggled in bed, and Walker is finally back to sleep, preparing for being 1.002739726 (yes, that’s the actual number for being 1 year and 1 day old). He fell asleep after having been read a new book, “Happiness is a Warm Puppy” by Charles Schultz. And I can tell you…
Happiness is a first birthday.
Enjoy a journey through Walker’s life with some photos that were taken every three months of his life, from 7 hours to 52 weeks.