Today is the last birthday, at least for a while. Little One is one today. It's like all things foster care, bittersweet.
In a way, birthdays just are bittersweet for me. They are land marks in life. A time to stand back and see where you've been and where you're going. A moment in time to do an honest evaluation.
But for a foster child it's more. And less.
So today he turns one.
It's remarkable that he made it to one, such was his circumstance.
When I shopped for his birthday and planned for it, I wanted to be elaborate and over the top. I wanted to buy every last outfit and goodie that tweaked me. I wanted to get all the special things. I wanted to buy every toy and blankie and lovie there was. I wanted to spoil this Little One.
But, I know I can't. I know I shouldn't.
Part of my job, is to be a mama. That means being a real mama. Not just overdoing when my heart is aching on his behalf.
He visits with his family twice a week. But in between, there is silence. No phone calls, no card or letters. There are no pictures of siblings or birth parents. I don't know if they're thinking of him day and night or if he's simply something they do twice a week.
I don't know if his mama or daddy woke up this morning remembering the moments of his birth, their expectations of who he would be or thinking about the promise of his future. I don't know if they'll show up for their visits today or remember to bring presents. I don't know if he'll get a card or a cake or a birthday kiss from his siblings.
I do know that here, at this home, he'll get presents. The other kids have already hailed him as today's birthday king. He won't have a special birthday dinner with us because he'll be away on a visit and because he doesn't eat table foods yet. We won't have a special cake, but instead a giant bowl of pudding. Banana pudding. His favorite.
See, that's where the rub is. I know banana is his favorite. I've held him while he cut his teeth and had his PEG replaced with a Mic-KEY. I take him to the ER and to ENT and GI. I give him his baths and rock him to sleep. I come to his bed in the night when he cries. I've watched him learn to crawl and sit. I have counted as the baby steps have increased these last few days. It's 10 steps in a row if you must know. I know he likes his morning and evening bottles warm and the mid-day ones cold from the fridge.
There is no good way to wind this one up. I've been writing and erasing for a while now and there just isn't.
So happy birthday Little One, may you next year be better than this one.