Red, blue, white balloons and streamers were everywhere. Everyone who came made an effort to look as French as they could, the food was suitably cheesy, the cake was red, white and blue and to make sure everyone had a mouthful of something celebratory and sweet, I also made a pavlova, decorated with red and blue berries and whipped double cream. The food that wasn't obviously French was made so by sticking an Eiffel Tower pennant in it, we drank champagne and listened to French music, including La Marseillaise (of course) and music by Yann Tierson (This music, which makes me so nostalgic for the time Will and I went to the movies for the first time together in Belsize Park to watch Amelie and then walk home in the pouring rain. It was so impossibly romantic, hearing this quite often makes me cry.)
We had family, friends from Will's uni days, old school friends, neighbours, friends from kindy, friends from the group of mums I've known since I joined their playgroup when Ollie was born and it was probably bigger than it needed to be, but it was just so brilliant to have all these lovely people gathered under our raised house, sheltered from the rain under fairy lights, helping us celebrate, taking photos, taking it in turns to entertain the kids, catching up with each other, making new friends and enjoying the croissants.
One of the sweetest things was opening the many cards we were given, all of which included a note of the charity that had been donated to on Hugo's behalf. It felt so right to do something like this to mark a year of being so damn blessed to have Hugo in our lives, the sunshine that he is, it felt right not to collect more stuff we just didn't need but instead to ask (respectfully and not without gratitude) that everyone give a few dollars to charity instead. And everyone did just that.
So there you have it. A year of Hugo. (And ten years of Lola.) It's hard not to feel emotional when I think about the past year (or ten). It's hard not to feel like crying when I think about the memories we are creating, the things I work so hard to do well, and the things I just know I could do much better. It's been the most challenging year of my life, yet the most rewarding. Watching this little monkey of a baby grow into this happy, bouncing, cheeky and independent toddler has been the most wonderful experience so far, it's made me realise the time, it's now. The stuff I've been looking forward to, the Sunday afternoon movies with my kids, planning birthday parties, the games of make believe, the mornings in the park, getting things ready for show and tell, cooking things I know they'll love to eat, being a parent... all these things I've been looking forward to all my life, they're happening already, right now. I need to stop and remember that every now and then.
Happy birthday Hugo. Je t'aime.