Panda Mom

A Mom’s First Birthday

I recently celebrated my first birthday as a mom. And I have to admit, I wasn’t gushing with warm feelings of motherhood and turning another year older. In fact, I cried! Tears of exhaustion and self-pity. Not the happy tears of enjoying sweet birthday bliss with my husband and new baby. Was that not a perk that came with being a new mom? Hah!

Leading up: My mother-in-law had gone on a 10-day cruise, so I had been home with Cadence for 5 days straight… alone. And by Friday, when my husband suggested going to a nice restaurant to celebrate the big 3-3, my mind must have been mush. For in that moment, it seemed like a good idea.

With the 9-month-old in tow, we set off for a romantic dinner at a fancy schmancy restaurant along La Jolla Cove. Our first mistake was to go here at night, since it was too dark to enjoy the views (you are paying for). Secondly, we could not find a babysitter, so we brought the only baby in the entire restaurant. You know it’s not baby friendly when there are no changing stations in the restrooms. And lastly, we were about to spend over $100 on a meal that we could hardly enjoy.

Now to Baby Cadence’s credit, she actually did pretty well. She sat curiously on her booster chair and ate her Puffs cereal awaiting the restaurant food. We ordered two beers (it was a special occasion), then perused the menu for food items appropriate for a baby.

For appetizers, we started with pita/hummus and bruschetta. Unfortunately, they were so flavorful, she spit out the food immediately.

Fancy schmancy restaurants make fancy schmancy dishes

For the main course, we ordered a salmon dish and beef steak. Again, the flavors were so strong. The salmon dish was garnished with many ‘toppings’ (including pomegranates – what?!) leaving only a small sliver of fish which I mostly fed to the baby. We boxed up the steak largely due to the guilt that it cost $35. (My husband did microwave it and eat it the next day though and said it tasted better oddly enough.)

By the end of the meal, Cadence was getting antsy to leave. So we chugged our beers and asked for the check. In record time, we had arrived at the restaurant and left in less than 40 minutes. This was less time than it had taken me to curl my hair for the birthday dinner. We took a quick photo and rushed to the car. Aw yes, of course later, I would see I was wearing the diaper bag in the photo. #momlife


As we drove home, I sat in the back seat with baby girl. I could feel the tears coming. Is this what it’s like to have birthdays now? Rushed and hectic and guilt ridden. Always thinking about the baby, feeding the baby, entertaining the baby. Hurrying out of restaurants with no time for birthday dessert.

Suddenly from the driver seat, I hear ‘are you crying?’

‘No…’ as I tried to hide the sniffles. My husband Danny continued to inquire, ‘why are you crying?’

I felt so embarrassed because I couldn’t quite put into words what I was feeling. Because I know I am lucky. I am lucky to have this super caring husband and this sweet baby girl. And while I have such beauty in my life, I can’t help but feel I’ve lost a part of me too. So yes, birthdays won’t be like they once were. And romantic dinners aren’t a thing if the baby is joining. And all of that is ok. I am slowly learning I need to change my expectations and adapt to the new me. Still trying to figure out who that is.

Turned 33 this year and my life is pretty damn good. But next year, I’m thinking we just go to Red Robin for the free birthday burger and kid friendly ambiance.

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