Ender turned one today, and never was a first birthday celebrated with more enthusiasm. Austen and Flora ooo-ed, aaa-ed and crooned over their baby brother all day long. All week long. All month long—all year long. They really are amazing, amazing, loving siblings.
Now, you’ve probably noticed Ender is not an ordinary baby. I never thought either Austen or Flora was a high-maintenance, high-needs baby—one of my core parenting beliefs is that babies cry to communicate, and need to be held, carried, cuddled and adored as much as is possible. Both Austen and Flora were fairly content babies. Ender, during his first year, has been a ridiculously happy baby. He’s happy when he wakes up. He’s happy when he gets tired and sleepy. He’s even mostly happy when he’s sick. He smiles and laughs and ga-ga-ga-s at everyone. He’s singlehandedly responsible for a huge baby explosion in Calgary and environs in the summer and fall of 2010. People would hold him, fall in love hopelessly, and go and make one of their own.
Why is Ender this little ray of (mischevious) sunshine? One astounded person—who apparently spent very little time paying attention to what was going in my life during this pregnancy!–told me it must be because I was so cheerful and happy when he was in utero. Ha! The best thing I can say about my mood for all but the two middle, pain-light months of the ordeal was that most of the time I succeeded in not inflicting too much of it onto the rest of my family. Ender certainly does not reflect my mental state during his first months of creation.
But he does reflect this: most mornings, when he wakes up, he is next to at least one beating heart, and frequently three or our. When he opens his eyes, and looks around, there are people who love him everywhere—not just mom, not just dad, but a Austen and a Flora, and those two often faster and more responsive to the baby’s wake up gurgle than the parents. He has lived, from his first day outside the womb, surrounded by people who love him. And his nuclear family is just the beginning. He knows his neighbours, and has been loved and cared for by them since he was born. And not just occasionally: they are always in and our of our house and we in and our of theirs. He’s fallen asleep in Lisa’s arms and on Janine’s knee. He’s been rocked to sleep by Paul, fed by Sabina, chased around the playground by Jen and Sara. All of our children have been loved and spoiled by their grandparents, but the relationships between the grandparents and the children took time to build. Ender inherits all of them, all seven years of rituals, games, and comfort. He doesn’t have to get to know certain people: he picks up on Austen and Flora’s cues and accepts them. They love and trust, he cares and trusts.
Happy birthday my precious third miracle. I’m so very, very, very happy you decided to join our family. You complete us, and you make us better. We love you.