Little Bear is 5 today, a time of great excitement for him and great joy at the extra attention and presents he receives and rightly so. He asked this morning if he had any more birthdays this year, and it was explained that we all have one birthday celebration - it is on the day we were born. This was accepted and he continued to admire his presents pile. This is the only birthday which Little Bear has celebrated with us, which has passed (so far) without any behaviour meltdowns, and for a child who is adopted this aspect of birthdays is not unusual, so therefore I have lots more reason personally to celebrate this year.
It did get me thinking about what a birthday celebration means, and I would like to share my own personal thoughts.
As a child a birthday was to celebrate getting a year older, I counted through the year in fractions until the day dawned and the postman arrived with my lovely cards. That was it.
As a adult a birthday still means another year older, but that isn't greeted with as much relish as those childhood birthdays. A birthday also offers me a chance to look back nostalgicly to my own birth, and root through my photographs of babyhood giving thanks for the people who helped (giving God some credit there) to give me life.
As a married woman my birthday is also my wedding anniversary and I get the chance to admire the wedding video (in private). Two doses of nostalgia for the price of one!
As a Mum, and particularly as an adoptive Mum, my child's birthday is a real source of mixed emotions. I am proud of the person my Little Bear is growing into, and of the great changes that occured in the preceeding year. I rightly celebrate his excitement, and do not shirk from explaining the meaning of the day to him, even when I was not a factor in that part of his life. Equally, whilst baking his cake this morning, I shed a tear for the woman who gave him life, and in whose womb he was formed. I thought about her, and whether she was thinking of Little Bear, and feeling sadness. I thought of the siblings he has and whether they are thinking of him, and in a brief prayer I joined my thoughts with theirs. "Tell them he is safe Lord, he is happy, he knows the love him and think of him."
Lastly in a moment of purely selfish emotion I shed a tear for me, when I went to use the bathroom and discovered that on this day, the day we celebrate our darling son emerging safely from 38 weeks in his mother's womb, I have started my monthly bleed. My womb will not ever help to bring a child to birth.
The last paragraph is in many ways irrelevant, it is a glimpse into a private pain which although long since reconciled, still has occasion to move me. It's irrelevant because I have the joy and pleasure of seeing Little Bear grow into a very special child, for whom both sets of parents should be rightly very proud. He grew under his mother's heart, and in mine.
Happy Birthday Little Bear.