Happy 1st Birthday and Happy 18th Birthday:
A Love Letter From Your Grandmother.
I’m not sure if its being a grandmother or just the natural aging process, but I am finding myself reminiscing more since Callister was born. As he approached his first birthday I began thinking about what I wanted to do to mark his first birthday, but I also started thinking about my children’s first birthdays. For Alexandra, my firstborn (and Callister’s mom), we always jokingly tell her we bought her a house for her first birthday. (I’m hoping she doesn’t read this and ask for her share of the equity from when we sold her first birthday “present”.) We did actually close on a new house that day and after a day of moving we celebrated with both sets of grandparents and a cake.
My daughter sitting on the front step of the house we bought on her first birthday.
I was six months pregnant with my second child, so I’m sure moving and being pregnant served to diminish the celebration a bit but the truth is, we’re not really “Pinterest” type people anyway. The one-year-old birthday child is not going to have any memory of the day, and she probably doesn’t have a large circle of friends checking their Facebook pages in eager anticipation of a party invite. The first birthday is an important milestone but the truth is, the celebration is for the family and for the sake of photographic proof that the child was celebrated.
We did at least manage cake on her first birthday.
My ex-husband offered to host a family celebration in his backyard, and my daughter thankfully agreed. A pool party is the perfect setting for Oklahoma June birthdays! We had a wonderful time celebrating Callister’s first year with a cake, snacks and lots of swimming. My daughter did the mandatory smash cake (Reasor’s on Peoria gives a free smash cake with a ¼ sheet cake purchase!) but Callister was not particularly thrilled with the frosting-on-his hands-and-feet experience. He received some fantastic presents and more importantly, lots of attention and love.
He wasn’t as excited about his smash cake as we thought he would be, but at least we got the picture for his photo album.
Knowing he would have no memory of his first birthday, I decided to steal an idea I had read about in my Google search for first birthday parties. I took pretty paper, pens and envelopes and I asked everyone to write Callister a letter that would be put away unread until his 18th birthday. I love the idea of Callister being able to read all of these messages when he turns 18. Because of divorce and remarriage on both sides of his family he has a multitude of “grandfans” (Don’t bother to look it up, I came up with it to describe all his biological, step and “kind of, sort of” grandparents), aunts, uncles and cousins. Genetics have little to do with love and who can have too much love? Because many of his “grandfans” qualify for the senior discount at the movie theater, there is a fairly good chance some of us won’t be watching him blow out the candles on his 18th birthday cake. Although I hope that’s not true, it will be a special gift to read the words of a missed and loved family member.
He enjoyed opening all his presents!
It’s obvious from my blog that I love being a grandparent but just in case there is any doubt, I’ve included my letter to Callister. I haven’t, and I won’t, read any of the other letters, but I’m guessing mine is fairly standard. If you’re looking for something to make a birthday more meaningful, this idea can be used for any age and modified to fit your situation.
Happy first birthday my wonderful grandson! One year ago, I sat in the waiting room for 22 hours nervously awaiting your appearance, you were worth the wait! When I held you in my arms the first time I didn’t know you yet I felt an immediate connection. I loved you then but now you have weaved your way into my life and my heart so deeply I can’t imagine how I ever lived without you!
You were a greatly anticipated child! For years, your Grandad and I would imagine how wonderful it was going to be when we had a grandchild. We dreamed of the outings we’d have, the trips we’d take, the traditions we would establish. We couldn’t wait to do the simple things; take you to Hideaway on Friday nights, have sleepovers which would involve play time, baking, reading stories and wind up with Saturday morning cartoons and doughnuts. I would dream about the day I could take you swimming for the first time, put you in the swings at the park and introduce you to the animals at the zoo. I fantasized about all those things for years and now that we’ve done them with you I realize our imaginations were pathetically anemic, they didn’t come close to the fantastic reality! I loved being a mother so I assumed I would love being a grandmother but I didn’t comprehend the emotional difference in the two roles. Being a grandmother is the icing on the cake, the cake was wonderful but the best part- the icing- was saved for last!
When your parents announced your impending arrival with a framed ultrasound picture on Thanksgiving Day, I literally jumped with joy and shrieked my delight! The next 6 months dragged by as we anxiously awaited your arrival. I bought baby “stuff”, went to a grandparenting class, tracked your growth via The Bump phone app and got my vaccinations updated to prepare for your arrival. I redecorated a room to be a nursery and went a little crazy with the fox theme, creating the nursery I couldn’t afford thirty years ago as a young mother. Your Aunt Caroline painted a fox on the wall above your crib and our friend Dusty painted a clock with your name and a fox. We thought we were more than ready for your arrival.
None of that mattered, I was totally unprepared. I knew I would love you, there was no doubt about that, but I’ve been absolutely gob smacked at how completely and irrevocably smitten I am! Today is your first birthday and I can’t believe how much my life has changed since you were born! If I didn’t know it was impossible, I would swear my heart has grown a new chamber reserved just for you. I get to take care of you several days a week while your parents work but that’s not enough. I find excuses to visit you frequently, but your parents are smart, they know I want to see your sweet face! You have the most engaging smile; a couple teeth now poke out when you smile and there is a dimple that appears on your left cheek. Your eyes are as blue as my favorite place on earth, the Caribbean Sea, and they twinkle with a spark for life!
I hold you in my arms and I see traces of generations past, loved ones that are no longer here. I also feel a strong nostalgic pull to the wonderful, early days when I was a young mother to your mom. Precious days I treasure and now I relive through watching your mom with you. I know how lucky I am to have lived long enough to witness the growing bond between mother and son. The past and future fade in comparison to the here and now. I immerse myself in the present, soaking in every bit of wonder, marveling at your existence.
I’ve loved all the experiences we’ve shared this year; swimming, story time, the zoo and aquarium and maybe even more fun are the simple times. I enjoy the mornings we hang out at the bagel shop, the afternoons we spend playing and reading. You are now standing on your own and so close to walking! When you want to cuddle you crawl up in my lap and put your forehead to mine, just for a second or two but it’s become our special love ritual. Your vocabulary is expanding every day and I love every new word you say. Everywhere we go you smile at people, say hi, wave and say bye! You love to be around other people, especially other kids. You have an optimistic, happy nature- you’re definitely a Tigger!
But I’m selfish, I want more! I’m looking forward to teaching you to ride your bike, watching you play sports, listening to you learning to play musical instruments or whatever you choose. I hope I live long enough to see you graduate from high school and college and maybe even see you get married. But now I’m getting too greedy. Instead of bargaining for time, I want to enjoy every day of watching you grow and learn. You have a very happy personality and seem interested in everything around you. Those qualities will serve you well as you go through life and I can’t wait to see what you choose to do in this world. I’m eager to continue watching you explore the world and expressing your happiness in every new thing.
When you read this letter, you will be preparing to leave your parents’ home and plan your path in life. Whatever you decide I hope you follow your heart and take the road in life that is meant for you even if it’s a more difficult route. More important than money; choose kindness, choose love, choose honesty and integrity in whatever you do. Whoever you select to love, immerse yourself and love with all your heart. It makes it more likely your heart will get broken occasionally but anything less than one hundred percent of your heart isn’t truly loving.
I hope I’ll still be around when you read this letter on your 18th birthday but if I’m not, never doubt your grandmom loved you completely! Ridiculously, mushy, head over heels for my first grandchild, my sweet, happy and adorable Callister John Kondos! I love you! Happy 1st and Happy 18th birthday!
Grandmom AKA- Diane
Swimming is one of our favorite activities!