Friday, February 5, 2010

february fifth...

we have this special birthday plate in our house. i made it many years ago for the kids.  the birthday child eats breakfast, lunch and dinner from this handpainted plate. it is quite unremarkable, but the children were all very excited about it when they were younger.  my oldest, emily, turns 14 tomorrow.  i am not sure it holds for her quite the same allure as it once did.  in fact, i am not sure she will eat even one of the three meals at our table tomorrow.  breakfast will most likely be a protein bar on the way out the door. the ritzy school cafeteria will host her birthday lunch.  and i am certain she will opt to eat dinner with the basketball team after her big playoff game.  the birthday plate will sit in its cupboard unattended this year.
there is hope for this ceramic tradition though.  tomorrow is also baby zuzu's birthday.  she turns two.  i am pretty sure she will be excited to eat from the mcnatt family birthday plate someday, but not this year. we thought we'd have her by now....but not yet.  we had dreams of pink party balloons and buttercream frosting.  we had visions of slipping her into a ruffled party dress and tiny buckled shoes.  what joy it will be introducing her to cheerfully wrapped gifts and a cake with her name in pale pink icing. but not this year.  there is much to do about birthdays in our home.  like most things in life, it is probably more about the anticipation than it is about the actual event.  this year for bella i imagine there was no one to build up her expectations or stir up her excitement.  no one to convince her, "this is your day!"   in an orphanage of hundreds of children, can she have her own day? i would think not.  she will wake tomorrow in a room with 35 or so children.  is anyone even aware that tomorrow she turns two?  i almost cannot bear writing that question just now.

last night i fell asleep thinking about the children who have turned two in our home.  emily.  tyler.  sarah elizabeth. connor.  i can remember (for the most part) their second birthdays. if i was honest, i'd have to tell you  things get a little fuzzy with the 3rd and 4th children.  but you get the idea.  they had 2nd birthdays.  they had parties. they had family to sing happy birthday and smother them with birthday kisses and wishes.  they ran in circles of wild delight.  probably not realizing much except that they belonged.  they were special.  they were loved.  it had little to do with the number of presents or party guests. it had much to do with the warmth and joy. they knew innately this was their day.  someday zuzu will dance in our arms and squeal in delight as she celebrates the day she was born. as she celebrates the day she was fearfully and wonderfully made. someday we will celebrate wildly with her.  someday we will sing happy birthday and we will serve her as much cake as any toddler can hold...on the birthday plate of course.

i think it is delightful having two daughters share the same birthday.  what an incredible thing.  i've heard a couple people remark about how that might be "tricky" or "hard"....i have to tell you there is nothing hard about it.  hard is having zuzu still in china on her birthday.  if my 14 year old has to share her day with a new sister at some point, that will only be good for her.  for us.  i gave up worrying about tricky long ago.  most things with a family our size are tricky.  i think it is beautiful that they share this date.  emily and zuzu are 12 years apart.  that is quite a gap.  when zuzu begins 1st grade, emily will begin college.  (i haven't told rick that quite yet).  perhaps this is one tiny added connection for these sisters. emily was zuzu's biggest advocate right from the start....before she new that they shared a birthday, in fact.  when we talked about the doctor's warning that she might not have a full, long or healthy life, emily was the first one to speak up and insist, "then that is all the more reason she needs to have a mom and a dad right now....even if it is only for a while....everyone deserves a mom and dad."  she put it in such simple terms.  rick and i could not begin to argue.  she was right.  it was all the more reason we needed to begin this journey.  emily has heard me tell that story several times this year, but i am not sure she is completely aware of the conviction behind her words.  children rarely know the depths they are capable of touching in their parents.  i suppose in some ways this is a good thing.
so tomorrow we will celebrate emily.  we will celebrate 14 years with a daughter who brings us incredible joy. we will celebrate a daughter we grow to love more each day.   but this celebration will be laced with some sense of the bittersweet.  though we cannot include bella in our birthday celebration today, we will celebrate because of her.  we will celebrate that God has placed our family on a journey toward her. there will come a day when she will be placed into our arms, just as our four other children were on the day of their births. that day is coming.  we imagine it.  we dream of it.  we sometimes even fear it.  that day we may not have any balloons or buttercream frosting on hand,  but we will have bella in our arms...and it will be a grand celebration....a true birthday party.

No comments: