It is two years since my dad’s heart attack today, or 731 days, if you prefer to count it that way. It would have been 730, but we had a leap year.
It interests me that my little girl will be turning one at precisely 366 days old, which puts her in a select minority who have to wait that little bit longer for the celebrations to begin. We hardly know how to celebrate a first birthday at our house, not remembering much about each of our own. So far the plans involve me making a rag doll and a sponge cake, my husband collecting some balloons and empty boxes and an idea or two about messy play. We may or may not have grandparents about on the day, owing to other commitments locally and a baby expected in the north of England. In any case, changing the day seems not to matter for the sake of enjoying time together. We had a ‘pre-birthday get-together’ with Lily and all six of her parents and grandparents on Sunday and had a walk in the countryside, which was lovely. Dad had cooked one of his roast chickens using a spray for the roast potatoes to keep them healthy and taught me the difference between hips and haws (it’s a whole different ball game).
In my opinion good company and good food are some of the greatest pleasures in life. But perhaps I am oversimplifying. Maslow would have agreed in part. Each evening in my diary I record the best thing that happened that day, and often it involves food or encounters with people. I realised recently that I have been keeping a basic diary of facts for 15 years. I have learnt that I spend a large number of days not achieving great things or paying off the whole mortgage, but I know I am travelling in the right general direction. It is the little things that make the big differences. Who cares that Lily will be 366 days? Or 365 days? These are only arbitrary timescales on which we can hang some well-earned celebrations.
What is more important is how I parent her daily, how I nourish her in all aspects of her development. I cannot treat her as a statistic, but as a little person who needs our love and care and will accept our imperfect and sometimes disappointing parenting. I cannot fix dad’s health completely either, but his daily routines are improving his stamina and reducing his cholesterol levels. He walks at quite a pace now, even when he is teaching you.
Each day matters, because each of us matter. Some days are special, which is good for us all. Some days aren’t special on paper, but they are needed as part of the overall sum. And some birthday cakes are technically not great for people who are very young or who do not eat saturated fats.