On Saturday, the big brother turned 10. He’s in fifth grade, which is the last grade of elementary school in our school district. Since I moved in with the kids, one thing that has always been my responsibility (and one of my favorite things) is making their birthday cakes. Some years, they try to out-smart me by asking for super-elaborate designs, but I always come through. This is one of the ways I show these kids how much I love them. They can have whatever birthday cake they want, no matter what they come up with. This year he asked for two kinds of frosting, strawberry and vanilla. Not too complicated.
On Thursday, I made cupcakes for him to bring into school on Friday morning to celebrate his birthday. I try to make the cupcakes the same as the birthday cake. Of course, we did not have the strawberry and vanilla frosting, so I had to run to the grocery story Friday morning after drop-off, and finish the cupcakes to get them to school before snack time at 10. This is nothing compared to what I have done in previous years. Once, I got stuck working late and had to bake the cupcakes at 2 am. Once, I accidentally turned all of them a frightening shade of hot pink (it turns out you can’t really make things red with food coloring — they just get more and more pink).
Thursday night, Bumby’s new reflux medicine finally kicked in. For the first time in his life, he slept five and a half hours straight. If you’re obsessed with baby sleep, you realize this is the clinical definition of sleeping through the night. We did nothing differently — no different bedtime, or routine, or soothing method, or periods of crying. He just wasn’t hurting anymore, so he slept. I woke up Friday morning giddy with sleep. My little baby was finally sleeping the way a 7 1/2 month old baby should be sleeping. He was so happy, and comfortable. Even when he did wake to eat, he didn’t scream and writhe around the way he used to. He just fussed, nursed, and went back to sleep.
My happy, well-rested little guy crawled around the kitchen and poured the dog’s water on the floor as I frosted the cupcakes. This is when it hit me. These were my last cupcakes. Big Brother was in fifth grade, and wouldn’t be allowed to bring cupcakes to school the next year. The guy who used to be the baby wasn’t a baby any more. Bumby won’t be at the elementary school for five years, so for five years, I don’t get to make the cupcakes. Five years from now they probably won’t even be allowed cupcakes — they’ll have to bring in birthday carrot sticks or pretzels. Making them at 2 am, turning the whole batch hot pink, and every other cupcake mishap was now water under the bridge.
Big Brother finished out his cupcake years on the same day that Bumby slept through the night. Sometimes, the milestones feel good. Sometimes, they feel sad. Either way, they just keep coming.