Alexandra turned two this week. When Katherine and Clara each turned two, it was a big event. I poured over beautiful wooden toy catalogues to find a gift they would treasure. I made and painstakingly decorated a cake. I bought balloons and planned a special day. We paused our usual routine to celebrate their birthdays. After all, “two” holds many milestones: the switch to counting in years rather than months; the end of diapers; the start of speaking in sentences; and the equally endearing and exasperating “No! Do it own self!” Two marks the last of the baby days and the beginning of little people days.
I looked forward to this move into childhood for Katherine and Clara. But for Alexandra, I put her second birthday out of my mind. On a few occasions, someone mentioned her approaching birthday (a grandparent looking for gift ideas, a friend asking if we had plans for a party) and it startled me. What? Two? Who’s turning two? Oh… Alexandra, right. I knew that. Then I’d push the thought away, reminding myself I still had time left with my one-year-old. But when the day before her birthday arrived, I had still done nothing to prepare. I didn’t even have ingredients for her cake – and I always have ingredients for a cake (you never know when you might need cake).
It’s not that I don’t look forward to a new stage of life with my children. Family skiing, all-day hikes, and afternoon outings without the fallout from ‘no nap’ are on the horizon. We are almost at the point when all three kids can pee by themselves and tie their shoes… A new era of family fun - and freedom - is opening up. I’m just not sure I’m ready for these early years to be over, even if what is to come will be just as wonderful, if not better.
But Alexandra’s birthday arrived and there was no getting around it. Luckily, thoughtful gifts from relatives, sibling-made decorations, and a chocolate cake, albeit last minute, covered up my reluctance to acknowledge this birthday. And while I didn’t spend hours searching for that perfect gift (besides, what could a two-year-old with two older sisters possibly need or want?), I did take five minutes to pop into the local toy store to purchase a pink tutu (what two-year-old doesn’t need or want a pink tutu?). Alexandra was quite pleased with it all.
Happy Birthday baby girl!