Saturday, April 15, 2023

S’s One-Year Party and Doljanchi

I can’t believe our baby S is one year old! Taking him home from the postnatal luxury spa, going back to work after maternity leave, PCS-ing (Permanent Change of Station; i.e., moving for official duty) with him… All of those things don’t seem like they were that long ago. As I mentioned in my baby advice post, it’s so true that the days are long but the months are short.

We celebrated S turning one with a Korean doljanchi (돌잔치), also known as simply a dol (돌). At a dol celebration, the child participates in the doljabi (돌잡이), where parents place objects on a table in front of the child and whichever one the baby picks up first says something about that child’s future! Of course, all the items are good and the parents get to pick the options, so it’s a little bit rigged from the start.

We chose six objects that were a mix of traditional and modern: a braided thread for long life, a fortune pouch for wealth, a soccer ball for athleticism, a pen for an intellectual life, a stethoscope for a medical career, and a toy robot for technology. (For the record, I picked the pen at my own doljabi, which is pictured above.)

As our guests arrived, they took raffle tickets and voted for which object they thought S would pick. I wondered if it would be difficult to tell which object he picked if he went for multiple at once or didn’t show interest in any of them. It turns out, I didn’t have to wonder at all: he immediately and confidently went for the soccer ball. (In true S fashion, he also immediately started chomping on the soccer ball.)

I was thrilled to pass this beloved tradition down to S, putting him in an adorable baby hanbok (한복, Korean traditional clothing) and taking photos I can show him when he’s older. I also appreciated that so many of our loved ones could attend and support baby S’s milestone as well as let me share Korean culture right down to the food (including a 떡 tteok rice cake birthday cake) and drinks (including a themed dirty soda bar).

Our hearts (and fridge) were full long after we cleaned up and everyone went home. I am so honored to be S’s parent and am so grateful he made me a mom one year ago. There were incredibly hard, tearful, and painful moments that I don’t want to minimize because motherhood is no joke, but I gained so much more than I lost and I can’t imagine life anymore without my baby boy. I will treasure the memory of S’s dol forever.

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