A Birthday I Don't Want to Acknowledge

"We should do something for Sage's birthday after school on Thursday." My mom is always up for a party and her excitement is tangible. "Um, I don't know. I wasn't planning on doing anything for her."

"Oh, you have to do something!" My mom protests.

"Why?" I counter, "It's not like she knows what's going on or will remember it." I think back in my head to Thad's second birthday, which of course he doesn't remember.

"You have to do something! Do something small with just the cousins."

Internally I think, "With six cousins and a brother even something with just the cousins isn't small." But I realize something as the thought flutters across my mind, I don't care if the party is big or small. It's not the party that I want to avoid, it's the birthday.

I don't want to acknowledge that Sage is turning two.

It was hard to acknowledge that my baby had special needs, but truth be told it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. She was just a baby, whose baby phase lasted longer than most. She was delayed, but as a six month old who couldn't sit up yet she wasn't that delayed. Even as a one year old who couldn't sit up, or walk, or talk she still wasn't that delayed.

When people looked at her they didn't see a child with special needs, or at least not right away. I knew that what they saw was just a baby who they assumed was six to eight months old.

This week Sage will turn two and will officially become a toddler. Instead of being a baby with slight, somewhat unnoticeable delays she will be a toddler with extreme and quite noticeable delays.

She will be a toddler who can't sit up on her own, can't crawl, can't walk, and can't talk.

Lately I have been really struggling with the fact that my little girl, although two years old, is (and will stay for a while longer) a baby. I am ready to be done with the baby stage. I don't love the baby stage. I never have.

I'm ready to be done holding babies all day, and nursing them all night. I'm ready to be done with the guessing game that comes with no communication skills. I'm ready to be done with boring baby toys and singing ittsy bittsy spider over and over. I'm ready to be done with baby foods and spoon feeding.

What I don't feel ready for is for continuing all those things with a toddler. What I don't feel ready for is the questions, looks, and awkwardness, that will come when others see my two year old toddler who has still not progressed past a six month old.

Since I know that she is no where near ready to leave the baby stage, despite the number of candles on the birthday cake, I find myself wishing that she could just stay a true baby. Can't we just skip the birthday and keep her as my sweet little one year old.

Of course I see the ridiculousness of that, but its what my heart wants right now. Somehow I feel like if I ignore her birthday then I can also ignore the fact that she is getting older without progressing in ability.

If I don't face her birthday then I can continue to only half face the extent of her special needs.

And so I move forward into this week, into planning her birthday, with my feet dragging and my heart hurting.

Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany