Last weekend, Surrey celebrated her first birthday. Well, we celebrated; Surrey just continued living her candy-coated life like she does every day. First birthdays are really just for the adults, anyways. A way to justify buying a crapload of cake and ice cream to eat as a reward for surviving the first year of a baby’s life. I always find myself reflecting on where I was, what I was doing only a single year earlier, and it blows my mind how much happens to everyone during that first year. Like, I cannot believe that one year ago I was pregnant. That is so far from my concept of possibility right now that it’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I gave birth relatively recently. I guess birthdays are the price of being a parent, though. For a kid, birthday = PARTY!!!!!! For that kid’s mom, it will always and forever be the anniversary of that one day she found herself in so much screaming pain she had to have someone drive her to the hospital and spend hours waiting for that pain to finally be over. For that kid’s dad, it’s the day he had to drive his wife to the hospital in the middle of the night and try to pretend that a baby didn’t just come out of his wife’s body down there.
So, YAY! Happy birthday! Here’s a Barbie! I’m really glad you’re not still stuck inside my vagina!
Most first birthday parties are pretty uneventful for the kid. In fact, Phaedra and Bella were so unimpressed with their birthday parties that they took a nap right in the middle of theirs. Not Surrey, though. Oh no. She fucking owned her party. She mingled with guests. She listened attentively while we sang “Happy Birthday” to her. She obligingly face-planted into her birthday cake, because she knew it was really what everyone came to see. And gifts? Oh my dear Lord the gifts. Every single gift was the best gift anyone had ever given her, and I’m also not exaggerating when I tell you that she looked at every single card. Not just looked at it — cooed, smiled, and opened each card as if she was reading it. “Oh, look! This one’s from Carol! Oh that Carol, she’s so thoughtful. I’ll have to write her a nice thank-you note.” People left that party feeling high on life, all because of this kid I birthed about a year ago.
Our year with Surrey has been pretty wild. It was a pretty big adjustment going from two to three kids. It affected nearly every aspect of our lives. However, through all the growing pains we experienced, the easiest part of it all was Surrey herself. She’s just this amazing little creature that’s full of love and sunshine and gooey, squishy happiness. I know it’s a cliche to the max, but this kid seriously lights up a room when she enters it. She’s not perfect, mind you — we’ve had a few stern discussions already about how not to use those new little teeth of hers. But that’s what’s so damn irresistible about her: she’s this weird combination of lovable, huggable goodness and a “Get the hell out of my way!” attitude. Nobody’s going to push her around; but then again, she’s so goddamn charming, nobody would ever want to push her around.
Lately, I’ve had tire trouble. In the last three months, I’ve replaced three of the four tires on my car, each for completely unrelated reasons. Each time, I have brought Surrey with me when I went to our local tire repair shop. The woman who runs the front office of the shop immediately fell in love with Surrey. Whenever I go, we usually end up talking well past the time it takes to fix my tire, trading baby stories and wisdom, oohing and aaahing over Queen Surrey. She’s from Mexico, and English is her second language, so we sometimes each find ourselves searching for and trading the correct words back and forth for what the other person is trying to say. Once, as we were saying our goodbyes, she looked at Surrey and said, “She is going to be something really special someday. She is just filled with…”
She thought for a few seconds, made a blooming motion with her hands, and finally found her word.
I think that’s probably the right word.