My son turned one in April and I found his birthday really hard. We moved to Portugal when I was 7 months pregnant with him, and it took me a really long time to feel settled in a new country and culture while also adjusting to having two small children, and weathering the postpartum period.
I found myself walking in endless loops around the cobblestone square that lay at the end of our hilly street, daydreaming of a time I would feel more normal and at home.
One of the things my daydreams often fluttered towards and landed upon was a vision of his first birthday, in the popular Estrela Park, where many of my new friends had picnic birthdays for their little ones.
When that time comes, I’ll be at home here, I thought. I’ll string a pennant between the oak trees, I’ll have figured out where to buy picnic blankets, I wonder if he’ll be walking by that point!
So when his birthday finally arrived, we were on complete lock-down. I fed him a Portuguese custard tart to the applause of family and friends sprinkled across two continents, gathered in a Zoom Room, their faces blurred and strained from stress and poor connections.