It wasn't as tedious as usual for me to get out of bed on that early morning. Biet and her father were still asleep, snoring lightly next to one another in our big bed. Biet had been going through a rough patch of sleeping and had somehow persuaded me, with her uncomfortable waking cries and moans, to transfer her from her crib into our bed in the middle of the night. She always sleeps best wedged in between Mama & Papa. I left my two loves (three, if you count Nico balled up under the covers at the bottom of the bed- yes, our bed gets mighty full sometimes) and tiptoed to the kitchen. The flourless chocolate cake, baked just hours before in dark of the night, had cooled on the butcher block with the breeze from the slightly cracked window. The cream cheese icing had set in the fridge, and the two were ready to come together into the most decadent & unhealthy breakfast ever.
I started my coffee on the stovetop percolator and frosted away. One blue candle, left over from Biet's birthday, finished the cake. Then it was on to the gift wrapping. I had been collecting my gifts for Gaby for the past few weeks, secretly hiding them around the house out of sight, anticipating the big day when they would finally be opened, anticipating the surprise and delight on my man's face. So on this morning I fetched them all and plopped down on the living room floor with a roll of butcher paper and a roll of ribbon. And just then my little assistant woke up, crying for her Mama from the bed. So we worked together, side by side. Each pretty white package, upon closer inspection, was embellished with the faintest streaks of red, blue, and yellow, swirling wildly across the paper into the most beautiful crayon-drawn wrapping paper. I would wrap and tape a package, hand it to her, and she would do her thing, my tiny artist.
We stacked the packages into a pretty little tower, set out the cake, and climbed back into bed. I had intended to relax a little before the day began, but Biet's exuberant hugging and kissing on her Papa (did I mention she isn't the gentlest of babies) had Gaby up and smiling in no time. I kissed him and wished him a happy birthday, and suggested that I go make the coffee and he take Biet into the living room and put on some music (music and potty time is her usual waking routine). I knew that he expected nothing. He swooped up his daughter and danced away down the hall, and I waited. A few seconds later he came running back into the kitchen, so surprised, so excited- the way everyone should feel on their birthday.
And then: loud music, dancing in our underwear, three (!) slices of cake (each) for breakfast, laughter, a baby having a ball tearing up paper, a Papa-husband-birthday-boy having a ball with his new things, picture-taking, coffee, love, family.... a birthday morning, and a great one at that.