It is Little Miss Ava’s first birthday! What an exciting milestone, and what a year we’ve had. She is, by miles and miles, the best decision we ever made. Throughout the last several days, I’ve found myself thinking about what I was doing exactly one year ago. I did not know of the immense love and connection that we, as common ol’ people, were capable of feeling. I did not know how primal the instincts I would experience would actually be. I didn’t even know that we were going to have a daughter!
I am so grateful for this blog and the support of the FarmGirl community–you have all added something special to both her life and mine, and I will be eternally grateful. Thank you for joining us in this journey of mother/daughterhood. On some of the tough days I have been lifted by your encouragement, praise, love, advice and wi-hugs (e-hugs?). On the great days, I’m happy to know that this path has been trodden by many a FarmGirl sister before me and the feelings and experiences are nearly universal. There would be something not quite right if the unexplainable joy of motherhood wasn’t experienced by others, as well.
Growing up, January was a fairly dull month. All of the excitement of the holidays seemed to crash and burn with the end of winter break. There were very few birthdays. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, while one of the most important dates on our calendar, wasn’t exactly something we eagerly anticipated. When my brother died in January, it became a month that I resented and wanted to avoid. Even this last week a very talented, kind, generous and popular former classmate of mine died in a mountaineering accident–bringing up some old emotions.
However, over the past decade, I’ve come to meet some of my most loved people in the world who happen to have birthdays in January–My Stepmom, my Father-in-Love (because Evan and I aren’t legally married, get it?), our sweet daughter, Ava, and most recently our newest nephew, Ellis.
January has become a complicated month–one that reminds me on a day-to-day basis of the beautiful, yet painful, cycle of life and death. This is fitting for the month, I’d say. As the inaugural month for a whole new year, there are the inevitable metaphors relating to turning new leaves and starting with a clean slate. However, it is also arguably and historically the coldest, least life supportive month of the year. Isn’t that how it is, though? Life and death, holding hands forever, kissing each other hello and goodbye, dancing along the poetic lines of impermanence. It is all beautiful, in its own way.
Ava knows none of this in her 356 days of existence, or at least whatever she does know of it isn’t complicated by attachment and critical thinking. She has many, many more trips around the sun to complete before the heady stuff matters. January is her birthday month, and we just finished her first after a year of many firsts. First smile, first tooth, first time visiting the ocean, first crab, first steps, first time saying “mama,” first Christmas, first time gardening, first stretch sleeping more than six hours (I would like more of these, please!), first big green booger!, first time peeing on the rug!, first pulling the dog’s hair, and first snowsuit. All of the firsts are precious to a parent, and I can’t wait for many more firsts in the coming months and years.
We had a little birthday party for Ava over the weekend. We served some of her favorite foods–chips and hummus, fruits, veggies, crab dip, yummy sausages and cheeses and of course her first cake! Have you heard of smash cakes? They are kind of new in the world of kids’ parties, I think. A smash cake is a small cake that is wholly devoted to whatever the little birthday boy or girl wants to do with it. It’s usually some form of smashing or destroying. Ava was very tentative with her cake. I made an owl cake with brightly colored butter cream frosting. We used some pretzels as the “branch” that the owl was perched on. Ava took the pretzels and nibbled on them a bit while suspiciously eyeing the sugar feast in front of her. She carefully poked the frosting over and over, eventually getting to the actual cake and eating some of it. I think she preferred the pretzels!
In lieu of presents, we had party attendees write down stories, poems, or advice or draw a picture for her baby book. They all turned out very nice and they will serve to remind Ava of the many people who love her dearly. One of my friends did bring a bottle of nice tequila for me! It’s easy to forget that a child’s birthday also commemorates the birth of mother and a father, so it was nice to have that reminder in something that I cannot share with Ava.
Oh, my sweet little toddling daughter! I hope you read this some day and know how much we adore you. You have awesome dance moves, your laugh could make the toughest meanie join in, your curiosity is top notch and you are loved by scores of people young and old. I promise to encourage you to be the best you that you can be, I promise to love you unconditionally, and I promise to bake you your favorite birthday cake year after year (even if it is–gasp!–chocolate-less). You are the BEST thing.
Happy first birthday, little one.
Sending you all peace and love from Alaska,
Alex, The Rural Farmgirl
Happy Birthday Ava, We share January as our Birth Month, Mine was the 24 and I like January. I happen to be born many years before you are your Mother and father were even thought of. LOL Just wanted to wish you “Happy Birthday” and many more Butterflies. Keep that sweet smile. you are Precious. Hugs Juanita farm sister #1020
Thanks, Juanita! And happy belated birthday. Thanks for the kind wishes.
Dear Alex, Oh I just loved this post. It made me cry. It’s been a long time since my babies turned one, but I have two grand-girls that make me feel that feeling all over again and I LOVE IT. I also love your idea of not bringing actual presents, but bringing something that will last a life-time. And the banner her Gramma Gail made her – what a fabulous idea and keepsake. Hugs to you. Oh, and kisses to Ava on her gorgeous pink chubby cheeks. She is so precious. – Dori, the Ranch FarmGirl –
Awww, thanks Dori!! Hopefully Ava will like the keepsake idea, too. She has more than enough toys for only being one! Hugs to you and yours as well.
I love your stories. You do such an awesome job. I admire someone who can put such feelings down on paper (or ??). I love babies, so have greatly enjoyed your keeping us all posted on your daughter’s growth. Awesome!!!!
much love and hugs
Thanks Mary! I appreciate it, and I appreciate all of the love for Ava from folks like you.
Oh how I envy you! I have always had to work. My kids and us(husband and I), had to rely on grandmother to watch them. My husband did his share, but I missed a lot. Thru your posts I imagined myself with my children when I couldn’t because of work, I’m not sorry but I wished I could have spent more time with them. They know I love them and they know how hard I have worked to make ends meet and be a good provider. I guess at the end that is all that matters. Children now grown and they turned out to be wonderful and loving I guess I did good! I missed a lot but it was worth it.
There are advantages and disadvantages to all mothering situations. A working mother definitely shows her children that she loves them so much that she must sacrifice some of the time she wants with them to make their lives the best they can be. I actually did have to work on her birthday for a few hours, but I’m very happy that I don’t work full time and that I can usually bring Ava with me!
Happy birthday to the little one…I think its so beautiful to bring such joy into other peoples lives. Hope you make it more secure for her and cement it with your continued love. Love is beautiful when its more secure. She is do beautiful. Its how God meant it to be….wholesome and enjoyed to its fullness. Glad to see the fruit in of love.
Love the/first horse. Cute photo. Eva is so beautiful.
Sorry about miss pelling her name….Ava. the tablet has a way of misspelling if….I don’t click on each word ( its a pain in the Butt)!
No problem, you should see some of my texts…they might make you feel better.
I love your Farmgirl stories, but this is the best. Your Ava is a lucky girl. Love and hugs to all of you, and Happy Birthday to your little one. May your year ahead be full of more firsts and more sleep!
Aww, thanks Kay! I am definitely looking forward to 2015. Hope to see you soon!
What a cutie! Happy Birthday, Ava!
lWell dern it! This made the little ole lady tear up! Alas, my oldest daughter, born 1/21, turned 40 (OMG!!!) this month. And yet your article brought back all the sweet memories and a few tears of those first years. And ya know, it doesn’t change as the years quickly fly by…you will still feel that incredible pride and joy in your child regardless of the age. Thank you for a lovely walk down memory lane and Happy Birthday all you January babies! Blessings in all of your endeavors!
You asked what tickles our tickler? As I am now in my 60s and just connected with my childhood friend, it’s my memories of our times together that gets me laughing… I was sharing with her my memories of her father one time… Back in the “old days” of the late 1950s before schools became “closed campuses” and everyone ate lunch at school, we used to walk home for lunch, and then walk back to school…. Yes, I know… Anyway, one day my friend Judy and I were walking home from school when her father went cruising by, driving the white station wagon they had in those days, and we went, oh, boy, he’ll give us a ride, so we started running. He slowed down to let us catch up to him, then leaned out the window and yelled, “Are you tired of walking?” We yelled, “YES,” as we were running to catch up to him. He then yelled, “trying running….” which we already were running, trying to catch up to him, as he sort of slowly started cruising off without us…. And there we were still running… going, “what?!!!” That story still cracks me up! I’ve told that story dozens of times in my life…
Yeah, the posts got a little bit messed up because of my internet situation up here in the far north. So, the tickle post was put up just today. Sorry for the mix up. But thanks for sharing your funny, nostalgic story with us. Different times, for sure! I love it. Thank you so much for sharing, Lynn!
Hi Alex! My apologies for being late to Ava’s party! As I read your post my mind traveled back in time to both of our babies ( now 19 and 17 ) first birthday parties, and year of FIRSTS..Which, btw keeps happening as long as you are parents! We are now in the FIRST LOVE stage ( our oldest) FIRST car and FIRST job stage( our daughter) and I can tell you that each first since the first breath to the ones we are experiencing along with our children is still a rush of delight, anticipation, ( I won’t lie) and as they get older toss in some worry and a lot of praying for guidance. I love the banner she got from grandma! So clever and what a keepsake that ( and those following ) will be. My hubby used to draw a big picture of whoever the favorite character or animal was for each of our kids on their Birthdays. For our son, we played pin the hat on Cowboy Rudy from Toy Story, pin the light saber on Luke Sky-walker and Pin the laser gun on Green Power ranger. Pin the dinosaur bone on T-Rex… well, you get the picture! Anyway, dear Alex and Evan… as parents you’ll have something to celebrate and be grateful for every day from here on out… That’s just life after kids! Many more blessings to all of you and give sweet Ava a kiss for me! Thanks for sharing your life as ” new ” parents with us farmgirls! xo Deb ( beach farmgirl )
Thanks, Deb! Parenthood is a fantastic journey. I am so thankful to be able to share in and learn from experiences of this whole Farmgirl sisterhood. As always, thank you for your support. I love hearing stories of your kiddos, and I look forward to many more firsts with all of our kids.