Last month our baby girl turned one. I still can't believe it. I remember the day she was born with so many details I keep replaying in my mind in hopes I never forget. I find myself seeking to relive the tough, tireless days, just for a glimpse at my daughter's sweet innocence and heavenly perfection. We recently celebrated this milestone birthday (a few times!), and I'm sharing why we continued with our plans even through uncertain times.
Days before her actual birthday, we decided to head to our hometown to see our parents. It had been months since we all last saw each other due to the 'stay-at-home' orders. My mother-in-law and father share the same birthday, with my daughter's a few days later, followed by my father-in-law's. We decided to do a very intimate dinner celebrating these four birthdays and it was so comforting getting a chance to be together in recognition of these special moments.
A few days after was my daughter's actual birthday that landed in the middle of the week. We woke her up to her favorite music with some gifts ready to be unwrapped in our living room full of balloons. We took her to the beach later in the day where she loves to play in the water, and I even made her a (not so great) birthday cake that we ate as a family of three (my husband liked it!). It was a simple day marked with feelings of longing to relive sweet baby moments mixed with happiness for what's to come and gratitude for God's blessing on our lives.
Originally we planned to have one large party for her with all of our families involved. It quickly became two parties due to our family's locations and as stay-at-home orders continued to get pushed further into the future, we ended up rescheduling a few times. Eventually we picked two dates that seemed doable for everyone.
We knew with the large number of guests (we have BIG families!), there would likely be some people not ready to attend family gatherings. I will not lie and say the fear of someone catching the virus from our party and dying did not cross my mind. Whoa, deep thought there...but I just want to be real with you. For my husband and I, we ultimately decided to move forward with planning because we looked at the facts of what was known about the virus, and did not let fear drive our decision making. We also knew that if we waited until everyone was ready...she'd probably be like two-and-a-half.
While there was a good chunk of people unable to attend the parties due to their personal decisions or health, we were so thrilled to see our family together. Things were definitely different, but ultimately seeing everyone gave me a glimpse of hope for our reconnections. Ultimately, everyone is an adult and can make the decision on whether they are ready to attend family gatherings or not. They can make decisions they are comfortable with (as they should) on how they want to interact with others, whether that be with a mask, at a distance, or virtually. I kept this in mind throughout the days leading up to the parties (and after), to remind myself that the weight of everyone's well-being is and was not on my shoulders.
I mentioned things were a little different, but what remained intact during these celebrations was the love and bond our families shared. Being able to celebrate the love for a child is so beautiful and I'm beyond grateful for the opportunities we've had to do this. This birthday is one I'm sure I'll never forget. It's one that is marked with the utmost appreciation, and just like the blissful moments my daughter has brought into my life for the past twelve months, I never want to forget that.
Lastly, I wanted to close in saying that if you are feeling anxious or nervous about gatherings - don't shy away from or shut out those emotions. Work through them. If you're not ready to be in a family gathering setting, that's ok. If you want to wear a mask, that's ok. If you want to be six feet from everyone, that's ok. The people who love you, will understand and support you (including me :)! ). If you need help to navigate these feelings, seek it. From me to you, it's truly helped me to live through this coming from a place of education and hope, not by a continuous stream of media updates and fear. We've got this because God's got this.