Today Cara’s twins have their first birthday.
Cara is one half of the wedding photographer duo, Lillian and Leonard. She also writes the blog Peonies and Polarbears. Last November she gave birth to twin girls, and, as she says, survived. Judging from her photos, the whole fall-on-the-floor-eyes-rolling-from-cuteness family did.
I remember my daughter’s first birthday. Like most significant events in this era of digital photography, I remember the photos of the party as well or better than the event. Two images in particular. In one, a group of invited parents stands in the water of my father’s swimming pool, holding all those almost one-year old babies. The pool was black-bottomed and the water appeared ultramarine, the light, bright.
In the other, I’m sitting on the poolhouse porch, wearing a white maillot patterned in a French-ish sort of way, nursing my red-headed daughter. She’s in a Florence Eiseman green seersucker one-piece. Toddler K. had very little hair, but what she did was wet, and on end. Her eyes are closed, her skin as fair as always, a flush across her cheeks.
I’m smiling broadly, optimistically, in that photo. After all, I’ve survived. After all, she’s one year old. After all, I’d just managed to have an actual party for 14 adults and toddlers where everyone got enough to eat. Sure, the only activity was swimming in my dad’s pool. That’s cheating. I get it. And the food was nothing but cold cuts, bread, cheese, fruit, and birthday cake. Might even have been cold cuts from Safeway. Not remotely special, cute, or edgy.
But you know, it was an act of will and completion. Those are some pretty scarce commodities in the first year of raising a child.
That year requires immersion. You dip your head underwater, thinking to catch a quick glimpse, only to emerge a year later, wholly mermaid. Your hair is seaweed, sand maps strange lands across your feet, salt water ceases to sting.
Those without children have other immersive experiences. We all share, however, the moment of exploding out of the water, spluttering. With any luck then, to float, face upturned, and paddle. I like to wave my hands at my side and go nowhere much.
Happy Birthday to Ella and Ammie. I wish you good luck and a rip tide. Happy weekend to everybody.