Third birthdays have always passed by me rather unaware for the other children in our family. I have little remembrance other than memories spawned by photographs, though there are fewer from the years before cell phones with cameras. I can think back and see smiling faces, likely cupcakes more often than cake, and carefully wrapped gifts to be opened by impatient little people, surrounded by balloons and cousins.
When I recollect my oldest son’s birthday, I think, he was to become a big brother once again. My heart tugged for the son, who at three, would be the oldest of three. My next son adored dinosaurs around his third birthday and his one year old sister was already the bane of his existence. I believe my daughter turning three marked the year of Doc McStuffin. A pool party and a photo of a little face squished between other little faces, beaming over a box of specially chosen cupcakes. Birthdays have meant something, been recognized, never with much carefully planned fanfare but always with lots of love.
On the eve of Amos’ birthday, I am filled with pining for those days where birthdays seemed so easy to predict. To know the desires of the birthday girl or boy was easy and taken for granted, much like the beautiful consecutive days of Fall when the weather is so lovely it resembles the stage of a movie set. Why is life so perfectly this way? Why does hindsight play tricks on you? I find myself annoyed at the mind that picks and chooses what to remember and what to discard. The difficult moments slip away and you’re left with an album of perfect memories, though certainly that is only representative of the remembered, not the real.
Amos will be three tomorrow and begin his first day of school. I have no idea if he wants to do this for his birthday. I was going to plan a party, even sent the potential date out to friends, but then though to myself that Amos doesn’t really like crowds so who would the party be for anyways? I did get him three presents, all having to do with trains though last week he cried when I turned on Thomas and I wonder, does he even like them anymore? What color cupcakes does he want? Should I have a candle even though he can’t blow? To tell these things is to be brutally honest and perhaps it may seem depressing to the listener. I feel like that quite often lately yet I think my Amos is wonderful. On my recent weekend away, I missed him so very much. Never have I remembered missing my children on a rare hiatus and yet I longed to see his happy smile, hear his gleeful greeting and gather his willowy frame in my crushing arms.
This will mark the first birthday for our son where we acknowledged that his differences do make a difference. It is the truth and to hide from a party and to buy trains and to send him to school all seem like decisions that I have very little control over making or knowing or guessing. It’s like riding a wave at night, an evening lit by a full moon, and trying to hang on as you wonder where you are going. What will happen? Where are you going? Who will be with you? You stand, feet firmly planted on the board, and you take a deep breath and you smile and you laugh and you let the wind whip at your face, the sea splash over you and you hang on and say, this is the ride of my life.
Happy birthday eve, my son.