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Happy First Birthday, Andrea!

It's my daughter Andrea's very first birthday - yet, there's no celebration!

HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY, ANDREA!

December 13'th.

The day dawned cloudy and gray. Such uninspired weather for such a monumentous day.

It was the day of my daughter Andrea's VERY FIRST BIRTHDAY!!!

My mind kept thinking, One year ago today....because you see, it wasn't just Andrea's first birthday. It was also my first birthday of being a mom!

One year old. My baby was one year old. Why, she wasn't even a baby, any more! What a milestone.

And yet....there was no celebration.

Oh there would be a celebration. At my parent's house, on Saturday. That was the only day everyone in the family was free to get together.

A big Dragon Tails birthday bash was planned. Andrea loved Dragon Tails. She would sit in front of the TV, mesmerized by the cartoon action up on the screen. The pink dragon Cassie was her favorite.

So my mother and I had ventured over to Party City and scooped up all the Dragon Tail stuff we could find. Dragon Tail plates, party hats, table cloth, balloons, etc...

My mother was baking cupcakes with pink and green icing, and there would be presents. Tons of presents from relatives, who had called to ask questions like,

"How would Andrea like a big bucket of fake food?"

"Do you think she would like a stuffed mother cat and four little kittens? I saw it on Amazon, and it's sooo cute!"

"Does Andrea have a toy cell phone yet?"

So yes, there would be a huge celebration on Saturday, loaded with presents, cupcakes, balloons, and plenty of photo ops.

But that still left today. The day of my daughter's real ACTUAL birthday.

I got up to make coffee. It had started to rain outside. A dreary light misty veil of depressingness.

My husband was already at work. I poured the coffee into the filter paper and went to get the water. I heard Andrea stirring in her room. I poured the water into the coffee maker and went to go get her.

"HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY, ANDREA!" I greeted her, a bit too enthusiastically.

Andrea smiled briefly. Then she looked upset. It was like she was picking up on some bad vibe I was trying desperately not to give off.

"Don't worry!" I assured her, as I lifted her out of the crib. "We'll make it fun! You'll see!"

Andrea looked doubtful.

I set Andrea up in her high chair and served her baby cereal and some banana pieces. Then I had an idea. I grabbed a teething cookie from the cabinet, and sprayed some whipped cream on it. Just like a little cake!

Then I hopped into the living room and snagged Farmer Brown along with some of his farm animals from their plastic barn. I brought them into the kitchen, depositing them onto the tray of Andrea's high chair.

First, she looked confused.

"These guys are invited to your party!" I informed her.

Andrea had no clue what I was talking about. But then she decided she liked the toys being there, anyway.

I placed the cookie with the whipped cream down on the tray. I picked up Farmer Brown and made him sing, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR..."

Then Andrea started crying, because she wanted to hold Farmer Brown.

I pretended to feed the cookie with the whipped cream to the little blue and white lamb. Andrea started crying again, because she wanted to do that.

After that, I gave up playing "High Chair Birthday Party" and just let Andrea do what she wanted - which included making Farmer Brown take a dip in her breakfast cereal.

After a rather disastrous breakfast, I checked my E-mail. Nothing. I knew there would be birthday greetings later on. It was just too early.

So I settled myself in front of the TV with a second cup of coffee. Andrea was busy giving Farmer Brown and his animals a bath in a bowl of water, on the kitchen floor.

The rain was coming down harder now. It did not seem like it was going to stop. It banged into the window pain in a dreary rhythm, punctuated by Andrea slamming Farmer Brown into the bowl of water.

Pitter-patter-SPLASH! Pitter-patter-SPLASH!

Such a momentous day! I kept thinking. So why do I feel so.....down?

The small apartment suddenly seemed extra small. The newswoman on TV droned on. I kept expected her to suddenly blurt out, "BREAKING NEWS! TODAY IS ANDREA MENDELSON'S VERY FIRST BIRTHDAY! ISN'T THAT EXCITING NEWS, FOLKS? ONE WHOLE YEAR OF LIFE!"

But the newswoman just kept droning on about other, more important things.

One whole year! A year of smiles and patty-cake and squeakie books and first words (daddy!) and first steps.

But...no one seemed to care.

As the depressing day progressed, the rain beat down harder and harder on the window, making an angry sound. Andrea, no doubt sensing my bad mood, was fitful and unsettled. Despite the awful weather, I knew we had to break out of that apartment. I felt like the walls were closing in on me.

I didn't have a car, so I bundled us up in rain gear. I grabbed the big golf umbrella, and strapped Andrea into her stroller. We'd just walk over to the Cost Cutter store, which was only a few minutes away from our apartment. At least it was somewhere to go.

However, once I was in the store, I felt even worse. The rain was drumming down at an alarming rate. The store was practically empty. Being inside that store felt as depressing as being in the apartment!

I ended up buying Andrea a bendy Santa Claus. I handed the Santa to her, and she promptly started chewing on Santa's leg.

When I went up to pay, I half expected the bored looking cashier to look at Andrea and ask,"How old is she?" granting me the perfect opportunity to announce that she just turned one....TODAY!

But the bored cashier barely glanced at Andrea; snapping her gum and averting her eyes; no doubt counting the hours until she could go home.

I raced the stroller home through the downpour, while trying to balance the huge umbrella. Andrea continued to chew on Santa's leg. The $1.99 Santa Clause seemed like such a weak token for such a monumentous day, even though Andrea seemed happy enough with it.

When we got home, I checked my E-mail, again. There was a message from my mother, wishing Andrea a happy birthday and saying she was all set for Saturday. That made me feel a little better.

However, once I was off the computer, I started feeling down again. It was so dark outside, it almost looked like night time. Andrea, already bored with the bendy Santa, had flung it aside and was getting cranky.

I felt desperate. I couldn't let her first birthday pass like this! Then my eyes settled on the thick photo album sitting on the bottom shelf of the end table. It was stuffed with pictures of Andrea's first year.

The photo album gave me an idea.

I stood up and grabbed the album, putting it down on the rug. Next, I grabbed the birthday girl, and brought her over to the photo album. Then I sat down on the floor next to her.

"Oh, boy! Let's look at pictures!" I exclaimed, making it sound really fun, so she would stay put.

I opened the cover of the album, which sported a cute spotted puppy. The first picture was one of me in the hospital, squeezing one of those stress balls and looking like I weigh 400 pounds.

"That's mommy in the hospital!" I told her.

Andrea looked doubtful. I took that as a good sign.

The next picture was Andrea's newborn picture, and then the nurse holding her, and then daddy holding her. She liked that one.

We went on to more pictures. Andrea in the stroller holding her Elmo doll....Andrea wearing daddy's shoes....Andrea sporting cat ears on her head for Halloween.....Andrea sticking her tongue out at jarred peas. We both laughed at that one.

This is fun! I thought. I wonder why I never thought to show her the photo album before?

As the rain beat down outside, inside that small apartment, the sun began to peek out from behind the clouds.

"Happy first birthday, Andrea!" I said, kissing the whispy brown hair on the top of my daughter's head.

Sure, Saturday's celebration would be fun, too.....a loud happy sort of fun.

But this was different. This was just the two of us, quiet and alone...no crowds, no silly birthday hats....just mother and daughter, celebrating a whole first year of wonderful and amazing memories....... together.

I knew I would never forget this special birthday celebration, no matter how many birthdays go by.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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