The Second Birthday

In honor of my son’s third birthday on Saturday, (which I’m only kind of freaking out about), I am sharing the stories and pictures of his first two. In case you missed it, here is the story of his first birthday.

By the time the my son’s second birthday rolled around, I was in a much better place emotionally. It also coincided with my sister’s wedding, which took place in GA. I was a little distracted from my usual emotional vulnerability as I did maid of honor duties, prepared to sing at her ceremony, tried to prepare my little guy to be the ring bearer, and planned another large family gathering party…this time to take place in GA the weekend before my sister’s wedding.

The first year, I did not really know what “theme” to do, so I went with the colors blue and green and did cupcakes. The second year, my son had fallen in love with a character named Curious George. His loveys are two little Curious George stuffed animals. Though we have since moved on from his obsession with the TV show, the loveys are still a constant presence in our home and at the time Curious George was pretty much the only TV that ever got watched in our home.

So, naturally, the second birthday was all about George.

I meticulously planned all of the details, including shipping items to my in-laws house in GA where the party would take place, and prepared to throw a second birthday party with all of our family 10 hours away from our home.

The day of the party was flawless; family gathered together at my in-laws, some of my girlfriends from high school were able to stop by, and my in-laws helped with all of the set up and clean up.

Here’s a peek at the Curious George second birthday party in Georgia:

The invitation

The decorations

The birthday boy

The amazing cake

Family birthday pictures

Blowing out the candle, digging in, and opening presents.

After a very successful second birthday party in Georgia, we enjoyed my sister’s wedding. She was a stunning bride and my little guy was an adorable ring bearer.

My beautiful sister and my sweet boy

Me, my husband, and our sweet boy at the wedding

After an incredibly busy week in Georgia, we headed home to Richmond where we were met with the surprise of a massive power outage and a ton of debris in our yard. Richmond, VA was one of the many areas affected by the 2011 Hurricane Irene. We were one of the lucky ones who were not harmed and whose house was still standing, but we were without power for TEN DAYS.

On my son’s actual second birthday, September 1st, 2011, we were in a home with no power, and when the mailman arrived he delivered an IRS audit and an $11,000 bill for a dental surgery my son had that insurance was refusing to cover. (I will have to tell you that whole story one day.) So, similar to the first birthday, I spent most of his actual second birthday in tears.

Luckily, our power was restored after ten days and by the next week we had a small play date with his two best friends in Richmond.

The second birthday party play date. Two parties for turning two.

Two birthday parties for turning two, with a wedding and an eventful actual birthday thrown in.

We Have a Babysitter. His Name is Clifford.

I am a stay-at-home mom who used to be a kindergarten teacher and a nanny. I have spent a lot of time taking care of children. I know a lot of activities and crafts and songs and games that I can play with my toddler. So, ideally, my son would spend all day, every day, in an enriched learning environment filled with activities and songs and age appropriate stimulation.

However, I am also married to an anesthesia resident. That means that I do not get regular help. That means that my husband is routinely gone anywhere from 12 to 16 to 24 hours at a time. So the whole husband-comes-home-at-five-and-helps-with-the-evening-routine thing just isn’t a consistent part of my life. We also don’t live near family, and don’t have the resources for a scheduled babysitter, so I take on a majority of childcare and household responsibilities by myself.

As much as I would love to say that my child is always engaged in developmental play and on a good schedule and everyday is wonderful, that’s just not true.

Sometimes, I have phone calls to make that require no toddler screams in the background. Sometimes, the dishes and laundry need my attention more than Thomas and the train table. Sometimes, I need a break more than once every 24 hours.

So sometimes, TV is my babysitter. I monitor the content. Clifford, Thomas, Curious George, Caillou, and Peep and the Big Wide World are some rotating favorites. My child is aware of the Sesame Street gang and can recognize the Barney theme song. These are all facts that I’m not particularly proud of, but I’m not really ashamed either.

Spending every single moment engaging my son just isn’t realistic. There are bills to pay and business calls to make and a house to clean and dinners to cook; often without the help of a spouse. And then there are those moments when I have just lost my patience or my ability to deal with the constant needs of a two-year old in the prime of his terrible twos, and it might be better for him to watch TV than deal with a strung out Mommy.

TV is my helper. It helps me do the dishes and the laundry and the phone calls. It helps me get a break from my other wise never-ending care of a demanding toddler. It helps me balance parenting, household maintenance, life administration, and every so often; my sanity.

My son isn’t being raised in front of a TV, but it is a fixture in our lives. He will grow up with a lot of different activities and experiences, and I guess TV is just going to be one of them. As much as I hate to admit it, I really do depend on that little bit of animated entertainment every day. So thank you, Clifford and the gang, for your contribution to my child’s life. I’m not sure I could do it without you.