Today we celebrated my grandson Patrick’s first birthday. Of course first birthday parties are for family and friends; they’re a big hoopla and for a long time I didn’t understand why so many of us continue this rite of passage. But today it all became clearer.
One of my daughter’s long-standing friends, Stacey, was talking about how fast the year flew by, recalling how lucky a handful of us were to witness Jill giving birth to Patrick at home. My niece Nikki and her family were there. She was a bridesmaid at Jill’s wedding, and it was fun to see her reconnect with Stacey and another friend/bridesmaid, Nora.The opportunity to visit with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, two people I love dearly and simply don’t see enough, meant so much, too. They know Nikki and commented on how her kids are growing so quickly.
From Jill’s wedding through the pregnancy to Patrick’s arrival last February much changed among her friends and family, be it new jobs or new bosses, heartbreaks, more kids and any number of events that occur in such rapid succession when you’re in your 20s and 30s. In the older demographic that my in-laws and I represent, the change isn’t as frequent, but when it occurs it’s significant. We recently moved and that process filled a lot of the last year. They’re busy with a two-year-old and she’s a teacher—two huge challenges, especially if you’re dedicating your life to teaching students in the Chicago Public School system.
Birthday parties for one-year-olds are for friends and family who are busy in the day-to-day of life but relish the chance to reconnect with those they love. They give us pause, allowing us to acknowledge, appreciate and catch up with the people we care about, to get a glimpse of their expanding worlds.
The year did fly by, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to recap those months. Patrick won’t remember, but everyone else in that room this afternoon will. Now I get it.