Can I confess something to you? I spent a lot of time worrying about how Benjamin's party would 'look'. It's easy when you're in the world of Instagram so often to think that everything needs to be tastefully coloured and picture perfect, forgetting, of course, that a celebration is a celebration and whilst decorations are nice, it is not the be all and end all for it to look pretty on camera.
And so, I had to give myself a talking to (and Paul had to give me one, too) when it was only a week before Benjamin's party and I was stressing out about getting everything done. It was a big undertaking, catering for all of our friends and family and finishing the decoration and getting all of us haircuts before the big day, and so Instagrammability had to take a backseat - as it almost always should.
The most important part of the day was for Benjamin to have a good time, and for Paul and I to get to celebrate the fact that we made it through this first, most difficult year, mostly intact apart from a few extra eye wrinkles (me) and grey hairs (him). And you know what? We achieved that most spectacularly.
Benjamin could not have behaved better for his party; he is sometimes a little overwhelmed when there are lots of people, but he got into the party spirit and even gave himself a little cheer when we finished singing happy birthday. My one real concession to that Instagram dream, was the beautiful cake from Sunshine Bakery. They made our wedding cake, too, and we were over the moon with that, so it was a no-brainer this time, when Ben can't yet request a particular kind of cake, to get the one that I wanted. I almost cried when I saw it, and my enduring memory will be of blowing out the candle and digging into that oh-so-fluffy sponge.
It is rare that so many of our loved ones get together in the same place - family, especially - so we spent most of the time making sure we had spoken to everyone. I was incredibly grateful to Paul's parents for manning the barbecue, and for stacking the dishwasher before they left. It was an all-hands-on-deck situation in the run up and the clear up, and it warms my heart that we not only have so many people in our lives to invite to a party, but also who are happy to muck in. I am a host by nature - it makes me alternately giddy with happiness and anxious with worry to cater for as many people as I can squeeze into my home, and I am very lucky that Paul supports me in that slightly hare-brained scheme more often than he should.
Ben was, quite rightly I suppose, completely spoilt. His pile of presents filled the living room, and I've had to stash some away as there's no way that so many can hold his attention at this time. From giant cuddly sharks to personalised ride-on cars, piles of books and plenty of clothes, he will not need anything again for at least a year. It was not the point of it, of course (and I did specify on the invite not to bring gifts, but, of course, everyone ignored it as I would do) but it was a very lovely way to spend the next day, even if we did have a poorly baby on our hands by that point.
I was incredibly grateful that we were all well for the day of it, given how much of a build up we had had. We'll probably not do a big party for him like this for a long time, if ever, assuming he doesn't want one, but I was happy to raise a toast to the best little man I know.