Today is Stephen's birthday, in which he enters a three-month period in which we are the same age ... in this case, the cusp of 40, the waning of our 30s. One of his gifts was a copy of Stephen Colbert's new book, which he promptly opened up and started to read, laughing his head off every 30 seconds or so. I can't wait to read it myself (I've just read a few bits in the bookstore) ... I may have to sneak it off his nightstand while Daniel naps. Speaking of Daniel, he seemed to enjoy his slice of birthday cake immensely (as evidenced by the photo below). Stephen is currently downstairs with him in the basement-cum-playroom, hopefully helping him run off his sugar high before bed.
It's been a rather wonderful day, though also sad: People gathered this morning to say goodbye to a friend's mother, who died of cancer this week. (Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Jennifer and Jaime.) Stephen went to the funeral with his friend Don (whose wife just had their third baby — congratulations, Don and Cyndy!), but I didn't think it would be a good idea to take Daniel. His idea of a good Mass experience right now is running around the back of the church, ogling every light fixture and rattling every liturgical decoration that isn't nailed down. I can't imagine what he would be like at a funeral at this stage.
Instead, Daniel and I went to see the James Sewell Ballet at the College of St. Catherine. It was a special, one-hour performance geared toward kids — which means it was perfectly OK to run around in the aisles and make noise. Daniel slept through the first half, then sat in my lap staring at the dancers for the second half. It was cool to see him so engaged, especially compared to how he acts in art class (more interested in exploring the room's unplugged electrical outlets and wall telephone than actually participating in the craft activity!). When he got home, he stomped his feet and waved his arms around for a while. I wasn't sure if taking a 1-year-old to an event that was probably more geared toward preschoolers would be a good idea, but I'm really glad we went. I love watching ballet, and maybe Daniel will grow to appreciate it, too.
In the lobby before the show, while I was waiting for my friend Vanessa and her daughter Evelyn to arrive, I started chatting with a woman who had the same stroller as me. (It's kind of funny to me how such things as strollers can be conversation starters now!) She was with her two children, and it turned out they are 19 months apart — the same space between them Daniel and his little sibling will have. Without me even asking, she told me, "It's really not as bad as I'd feared." (Witness: She can still go to the ballet!) She said it's just a matter of shifting priorities a little. For example — and she lifted up her 7-month-old daughter's coat — "Lots of the moms here got their little girls all dressed up but she's still wearing her pajama top, and that's OK." That little conversation brightened my day.
This afternoon, Steve and I went for a walking date while Daniel slept in the stroller. We did a usual route, but one I haven't done since my surgery: stopped for coffee, then hoofed it all the way to Barnes and Noble, which is about two miles from our house. On the way home, we passed two wedding parties. One was at St. Catherine's (what a gorgeous place to be married), and by that time, Daniel had awakened and was toddling around among the ducks and geese near the pond. Standing with my husband of four-plus years and our exuberant son, watching the young couple being photographed, I remembered how new and exciting marriage was on our wedding day. Now here we are, further along on our journey together, having weathered infertility, cancer, and the occasional bickering about money and communication styles and whatnot ... and another baby on the way. Our relationship has evolved in the past four years, and now that we're parents, we certainly don't have as much time for just each other, but standing there with my family on the college lawn today, I felt so happy about where we've come, to this comfortable, supportive place that feels even richer and more seasoned than it did on the day we were married.
We have such a simple life now. We've been looking forward all day to snuggling up in bed with DVDs after Daniel goes to sleep. On tap for tonight: Knocked Up and The Sopranos, Season Six-Part 2.