First Birthday

The summer of 1990 passed quickly after that.  I spent my summer days going to classes at the university, fulfilling a full time schedule during those warm months that would enable me to start my first stint of student teaching in the winter term.  Wayne State asked its students to fulfill three semesters of student teaching experiences; one urban, one suburban (both half time) and then one full time teaching experience at a district of the student’s choosing.

On my off nights and weekends I would take Zachary to the park or swimming. I spent hours with my sister helping her choose maternity clothes for her first pregnancy.  She likely balked at relying on her six years younger sister for help, but it was something we could share together, and so we did.  She wasn’t working anymore, so she had lots of free time when I was available.  Sometimes I could go over a girlfriend’s house after Zachary was in bed and my mother was home from work.  It was a busy, but quiet time. I tried to accept that this was now reality, that my current situation was of my choosing and not going to change, and to make the best of it.

Zachary for his part, had grown into a wonderfully easy baby who would go out to dinner with us for hours (as long as we supplied him with saltine crackers), smile when read “The Very Hungry Catepillar”, laugh at the constant tickles we supplied him with, and amuse himself when I needed to study.  As much as I could be, I was content as we approached the end of his first year.

We had two parties for Zachary that year; the first was at our tiny townhouse, and consisted of just close family, on the actual day of Zach’s birthday.  I laughed to myself that I must be the only single mother anywhere that had so many people wanting to help celebrate her kid’s birthday that she had to hold two parties.

We held the second at Major Magic’s Pizza Palace, one of those awful Chuck E. Cheese style pizza places where kids played games with tokens and germs multiply like salmonella in the summer heat.  My father made a birthday cake with a huge “1” on it.  My brother was home from the Navy.  My sister’s friends with babies brought their kids.  Dawn came with an eight month belly under a maternity top.  My mother smiled as much as I’d ever seen her.  We were all very celebratory; this may not have been the path we’d all thought I would be on two years ago, but everything was going as well as it could be, considering.

Zach reached out to his piece of cake that day, tentatively, as if he wasn’t sure what to do with it.  I had to put a small bit of it on his hand to assure him that it was OK to reach in and make a mess.  Once he understood what was available to him, though, he dove right in and gleefully smiled at me.

Yes, little one.  New things are scary sometimes, and it’s good to be careful.  But after you’ve tested the waters and found them appealing, there’s nothing wrong with riding the waves without any hesitation.

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