Happy First Birthday… To You, Mom


first birthday

Some parents believe that when a certain milestone rolls around — I’m talking about Baby’s First Birthday, of course — when you finally reach that epic moment, a full year after baby’s big debut, that any mom and dad with a shred of sanity left should simply give the kid a cupcake, slam a shot of bourbon, share a high-five and call it a day. (Or a very early night.)

And to that I say — and I’m quoting my dear friend Danielle, mom of four, here — Oh, hell no! By all means, put the baby to bed when it’s time — or let the li’l tyke snooze in his smash cake. But then party on, girlfriend. ‘cause baby’s first birthday ain’t … about … the … baby. This party is for you, Mama. Yes, you! You who got split stem to stern, pooping out the equivalent of a 10-pound watermelon. You who nursed every 45 minutes — twenty-four/seven — for months. You who endured colic (aka Is this kid ever going to stop crying?) and can still function on three hours of sleep … or at least do a good impression. You who mastered the fine art of changing a diaper blowout without letting a drop of shit hit the floor. You with spit-up down your back and pureed prunes in your hair. You. Who. Didn’t. Kill. The. Baby.

Well done. Have a canape. The mini-quiches are delish.

But I am being totally serious here. Check the Scary Mommy confessionals and community boards. Every mom knows that the first year with the first baby plays like an extended run of Survivor meets Lord Of The Flies. So, you came through it without sprinting away from home … voting your hubs off the island … ending up in a body bag … or checking into rehab? High-five! That necessitates the kind of shindig that would dwarf Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. Or at the very least one of Jay-Z and Beyonce’s parties.

Given that house plants were known to wither and die in my care, when my son turned one, I was so deliriously happy that I hadn’t squished him, dropped him or forgotten him somewhere in my sleep-deprived stupor — I went all out. I invited every single mom and dad I knew from Mommy & Me, hired a caterer, rented a couple of bounce houses and brought in a margarita machine. (Though, that last one might have just been for me. And I promise, there wasn’t a jigger of tequila left when the rental guys picked it up again the next morning.)

I wanted to hire a sky-writer to spell out “WE DID IT! HE’S ALIVE!!” over our little nabe AND have the cheer squad from our local high school bounce through the streets, chanting, “WAY TO GO MOMMY, WAY TO GO!!” But my husband thought that might be a tad overkill. So I settled for loading up the party play list with songs, like Looks Like We Made It and Alive & Kicking. Girlfriend, I partied like it was 2099! (Which is about the time I expect to be done paying for the kiddo’s college education.)

My point is, there are going to be plenty of birthday celebrations in your baby’s future. You will inevitably book magicians and face-painters and balloon-animal makers. You will fork out bazoodles for plastic party-favor gizmos that other moms will throw directly into the trash. You will do crafts, decorate cookies, pet farm animals and spend way too many hours at Chuck E. Cheese. You may even arm 40 kindergarteners with plastic light sabers, draft a high-schooler to play Darth Maul, feed them sugar, then set them all loose in the backyard. (Oh, just me?)

Your kiddo has a lifetime of birthday parties ahead that are all about him or her. But this one, baby’s first birthday, this one’s for you, Mom. You earned it. Salud!


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  1. 1

    Mercy Langille says

    Now that my kids are past their first birthday’s you tell me to do this. Oh well, I guess I can just stop and do it now. I’ve survived 3 1st birthdays so I suppose I need to triple the fun. Bring it on.

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  2. 3

    Kathy Radigan says

    I had parties all three times my babies turned 1 and I love it!! You are right there is something very special about that first year. Plus it goes so fast!! Great time to have a party!! Love your post!

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    • 4

      Norine Dworkin says

      Thanks Kathy! I really did have a good time at my son’s 1st. Definitely went overboard. But I only did this once. He won’t remember it. But I will. :)

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  3. 7

    Someone20001 says

    We had a small “party” for DD4 when she turned 1. Just family was there, and my sister’s boyfriend. It was simple. I don’t understand why people have fancy parties for their babies. They won’t remember it. The whole time during her party I was thinking “I have survived ONE YEAR of motherhood”.

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  4. 9

    kel says

    We were in a small house for my twins’ first birthdays…in January. Grandparents invited only. Of course my mom said “maybe you could invite so and so…”. No grandparents only…that way the photos will look like we did something. Then we moved to a large home, and now I get to host every damn family get together…plus my sisters asked to have their kids parties in MY home. WTF LOL

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  5. 13

    erin h says

    dd2 just turned 1 this month. i felt bad for only having cupcakes and not much of a “party” (grandparents came over). but it was a good time, got some great pics, and best of all NO STRESS!! best birthday ever!!

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  6. 14

    grownandflown says

    So, so true, Norine, that first birthday party is a milestone for parents who completed one of the hardest 12 months in parenthood, until you get to the two’s, Middle School, all the teens….I say celebrate your motherhood every single year (along with your child) but just don’t hire the cheerleaders.

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  7. 16

    Jean says

    My mother brings a gift for my child and for me at the first birthday party. I never expect it but it’s her little way of saying “Way to go.” It’s given me a thrill both times. I LOVE that you wrote a post about this for SM.

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  8. 18

    Lauren says

    Yes! When our now-almost-14-month-old turned one, we invited over adults and had cupcakes and a dozen bottles of champagne. There will be plenty of time for pizza parties and balloons and all that jazz….

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