I can't believe I'm saying this, but my youngest turns one next week, which is both exciting and sad all at the same time. Part of the reason it's hard to be excited for it is his father is away for work right now and won't be back until later this month.
There's a part of me that wants to simply pretend that his birthday isn't until after my husband is back.
He's only one.
It's not like he'd remember.
It'd be really special for Daddy if we waited.
I miss my husband, and celebrating without him reminds me even more that he's not here right now.
But it wouldn't be fair to my child to do that. So, even though I don't really want it to happen right now, I'm still going to try and make it special for him.
If you find yourself in a place where you or your partner is away for a big event in your child's life, here are a few tips on how you can still make that event special too.
1. Acknowledge Its Existence
I know this one seems like a no brainer, but like I already said, sometimes when someone special is away you don't feel like celebrating without them. But it's still important for you to acknowledge that it's happening.
2. Follow as Many Traditions as Possible
While we're not going to open my son's presents on his birthday (he hasn't figured out the joy that is gift opening yet, so it's not mean to make him wait), we will be having a birthday party for him this weekend. There will be a butterfly cake, a caterpillar fruit tray, paper cups that say "1st Birthday" on them, and a rainbow of helium balloons.
And my son and I will be spending some one-on-one time. Just the two of us. My phone will be turned off (that's a lie, it'll be on in case Daddy calls), the computer will be in a different room. He'll have my full and undivided attention.
3. Take Lots of Pictures (or Videos)
If you take lots of photos or videos of the event (or have someone else be in charge of the camera), then, once your partner is back they can sit down with your child and look through the photos and your child can tell them stories about what happened.
This way both your child and your partner don't have to feel like they missed out on an important moment in your child's life. They've seen all the photos, watched the video and heard about all the best parts from your child.
4. Include the Other Parent Anyway You Can
One way we're going to include my husband is by holding off on presents until he gets home. That way he can actually be around as our baby boy learns about the excitement that is pulling wrapping paper off presents.
Once our boys are a bit older we'll probably try some other things as well.
Like Skyping or Facetiming him during the party. Or, because, during the party might be too chaotic and loud, perhaps they can share some special one-on-one time before or after the celebration.
Letting them talk on an actual telephone with no videos involved, because sometimes the video feature doesn't work, but that shouldn't stop you from having a good conversation
Having Daddy send a special card to be read on their birthday. This is actually something Daddy already does, every time he goes away he sends a post card whenever he's able, but we're not sure if the card will make it in time for the big birthday. Next time maybe we'll get him to leave one behind, just in case. Worst thing that could happen is our boys get two special letters from Daddy.
Set up a long-distance Daddy - Son Date. Maybe they could play an online video game with each other, or watch the same movie, or, instead of a special card, maybe Daddy could send a craft box and they could make the same craft over the phone or video chat.
Being a military family means we'll have lots of opportunities to practice celebrating special events while my husband is away. But just because he's gone, doesn't mean that the day isn't special. My youngest is still turning one whether I like it or not, so I might as well make the most of it and have a party that I, at least, will remember.