Last Saturday, my husband Jacob and I celebrated Baby Jake’s first birthday at Greenmeadows Clubhouse in Quezon City with our friends and family. It was a Baby Shark-themed party with larger-than-life cartoon cut-outs, white and blue balloon decor, and hanging figures of underwater creatures. The program consisted of mascot entertainment from Baby Yellow Shark and Pink Fong, a dance number by a mascot, fun kiddie games, as well as a special balloon show.
While most babies get tired or overwhelmed during parties, Baby Jake stayed completely awake and attentive throughout his big day— seemingly aware of all his surroundings. He was in a pleasant mood, consistently smiling gleefully at his guests, and clapping his hands as he was fully engaged by the performers. He knew we had gathered together for him!
Throwing a party for Baby Jake was not part of my original plan for his birthday, since Baby Jake won’t remember the party when he gets older. But last month, I decided to push through with it after meeting our event supplier, who expertly and seamlessly coordinated this celebration at the last minute.
She put together everything, from tapping our emcee and souvenir producers, to sourcing our cake supplier and enlisting photographers to document the occasion.
First birthdays can be emotional for many parents. While we kept the atmosphere chill, cool, and fun for the party, there are definitely moments of deep reflection for Jacob and me about the year that has passed. Here’s a letter we wrote for Baby Jake on his first birthday.
Dear Baby Jake,
Has it been a year already? I can’t believe just 12 months ago you were extremely delicate and only an arm’s length. Now, you’re becoming heavy to carry, and already capable of standing on your two feet—with support, of course. It won’t be too soon until you’ll start running, and our energy will be used up chasing after you.
When you were born, I thought life as I knew it would be over. We didn’t connect immediately, and I worried about my ability to become a good mom to you. The times you’d cry all night were terrible, and it felt like they would never end. But now I remember those memories positively, and proud that we held through them. There were brief instances when I’d question why I became a parent in the first place, then you’d smile and all our sacrifices became worth it. My life was truly never the same after you, because, slowly but surely, you made life more meaningful. Now we can’t live without you.
Looking back, I wonder at how I was able to survive pumping breastmilk for you in the wee hours of the night and early morning and multiple times during the day. The mixed emotions I experienced when my breasts would harden, from needing to express milk for you while outside, to familiarizing myself with careful sterilization and breastmilk storage process, and the guilt I felt for weaning when you turned 10 months old. It feels like it’s been so long ago.
I’ve also come a long way. I’m not perfect, and I’ve learned to forgive myself for it. I used to think I should be able to do everything on my own. But raising a child involves a village indeed, and I’m thankful for your Papa Jacob, your grandparents, especially your Angkong Dioceldo, and your nannies Yaya Lina, Yaya Grace, and Yaya Celia who have taken turns to ensure you’re well fed and properly cared for when I am at work and unable to attend to you 24/7.
As your mom, I will make a lot of mistakes. But I promise that whatever I do, it will always be for the benefit of your future. I pray that in areas where your dad and I are unable to serve as best examples, God will take over to guide you and direct your path. My dream is for you to grow up into a boy who loves Jesus, and eventually a man after God’s own heart.
I’m excited to share your milestones with you, and to see you become a thoughtful human being who is wise in his actions, humble and diligent in his work, with a heart of compassion for his peers. But for now, please take your time and don’t grow up too fast. We’re not ready to let go of your precious smiles and warm cuddles that bring us so much pure and innocent joy.
Mama and Papa love you and will always be here for you.
Happy Birthday, Baby Jake!