Monday, December 7, 2015

Miller's "Birthday"

I'm a traditions girl. Not a traditional girl...but a girl who loves traditions. There's something comforting in the familiar, and in repetition and patterns. I love the feeling that I'm not only connecting with history but also building a legacy for the future. And I think this feeling only got stronger as I had kids...and more kids...First it was introducing Piper to traditions from my childhood, and now it's expanded to repeating experiences with each kid. No tradition is too big or too small to win my heart. (I mean...I forced them into mushroom onesie photoshoots...I'm nothing if not committed.)

So whether they like it or not, my little family is pretty much forced down similar paths again and again in the name of tradition. It's taken Dustin a bit of time to get used to this particular quirk, but he's coming around. He may never be as sentimental as I am, but he at least has come to understand that milestones, traditions, and the pomp and circumstance to celebrate it all, is important to me.

On November 15th, we repeated an event that has become a Bowden family tradition: a first birthday! Ok, obviously it wasn't Miller's real birthday, that is thankfully still quite a ways off, but it was his "nine months in + three months out" milestone, marking a full year of being with our little guy in some form or another. We were introduced to this idea by friends in Pittsburgh, and we embraced it, throwing a little shin digs for Piper and Fin. The details of the parties were a little different each time, but the idea was the same- gather together with friends, and celebrate the fact that we made it to the "one year" mark.

And what better way to celebrate a little man, than with a whole lotta barbeque?
Mmmmmmmm, yes.

Yes, mmmmmmmmmm. 
We gathered after church with a few of our friends- the people we do life with week after week as a part of our small group, or church teams, and the group who has been there every step of the way anticipating, welcoming, and loving our sweet Miller. 

When we arrived, Miller was zonked out in his carset, so we took advantage (I think it was his reverse birthday gift to us- allowing both Dustin and I to eat with two hands!) While we laughed and talked with friends, he ended up snoozing the whole time. I mean, the whole time. Not a peep. I contemplated waking him up, in order to have him join in the festivities, but then I remembered the #1 rule of parenting: don't wake the baby, especially if there is mac & cheese you really want to eat...without even putting down your piece of Texas toast. (Ok, maybe that's just my #1 rule of parenting. But it's a good one.)

Piper and Fin were slightly (ha!) rowdier, happy to take over the place with their gaggle of girlfriends. Between all of us, there were eight girls eight and under...poor Miller's going to have quite the posse to deal with when he's older. (But they're all so cute, I have a feeling someday he won't mind a few extra ladies hanging around).

At one point, one of the other patrons aked my friend Bethany if all those girls belonged to her. She laughed and replied NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO." They're great and all...but they're also A LOT.

So like most things we do these days, our lunch party was chaotic, loud, messy, and not exactly what I had pictured. With Piper, our ratio of adults to kids was much heavier on the grown up side, so we had a leisurely breakfast, with a formal toast/reading, and more than a few thankful/overwhelmed with the love of community tears by me. By the time Fin turned "one" there were more kids in the mix, so it was a bit less formal and a lot less organized, but we still managed to have a few minutes centered around her, and even got a couple family pictures to mark the occasion. And this time...well this time it just looked a lot like a regular Sunday: tables pushed together, chairs crowded around, drinks teetering on the edges, kids running/yelling/crying/squealing all around, adults doing their best to carry on a conversation from five seats away amidst constant interruptions.

As we said our goodbyes and headed home I started to feel bad that we hadn't done something super special. We hadn't marked the occasion with wise words, or gotten a frame worthy snapshot. Poor third child...he got a party, but wasn't exactly the star of the show.

But as I thought about it more, I realized that in a way, we're doing the most special thing possible. Week after week, day after day, we're raising this boy within a tribe of people who love and care for him (and us) so well. They're there on his "birthday" but they're also there...any day. So the fact that his party looked just like a typical Sunday, means we're all pretty lucky indeed.

So happy ONE, buddy. The "official" photo from your party might not be the best quality pic, but what it represents is pretty much perfect: you've got a big group of folks who laugh loudly, eat messily, and love you unconditionally. Thanks for keeping the tradition alive (even if you didn't exactly know it was happening). It's good to mark these milestones together...and even better to do it with some hush puppies.

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