One part denial, one part nostalgia, and one part giddiness, and you have how I feel about you turning one today.
I am tearing up as I write this letter. Your momma is a sentimental one. Your daddy likes to say he had a baby to make a person, with the implication that he is happily moving on from your baby stage. I did as well, and it is thrilling to watch you grow. But I want to commemorate this first year, the year you made us parents, the year you let us love you. With that sentimentality comes that bittersweet mix of joy and sadness.
Yesterday you crawled by a stray pair of socks on the floor, and you stopped to examine them. You lifted your leg in the air, and very intently draped one sock over your foot. You know your sock goes on your foot. I know this seems like such a simple little thing, and I hope you will be blowing this little trick out of the water as your learn more about the world, but... You are my baby, and that makes this moment in which you tried to put a sock on your pudgy little baby foot one of the proudest moments of my life.
We have come so far. Things were so hard in the beginning. It took time to get to know one another, to learn what you needed, and how to fight for what you needed. I remember one long, lonely night when you wouldn't stop crying and I begged you please stop crying, please stop being sad, I don't know how to make you happy, I don't know-- That was one of my lowest moments as your mother, one of the times I felt like I was failing you.
(Aside: newborns are hard. Sick newborns are harder. Do not have a baby until you are very, very ready. When you get a little older we will have a long chat about where babies come from, and a little older than that we will cover how NOT to have a baby until you are ready. If your teenage self is reading this, you are probably cringing. If you are reading this after you have become a parent, YOU KNOW I AM RIGHT.)
While I am glad things are easier, happier, and most definitely healthier, I want you to know that I am grateful to you for those hard, early days. The pain you went through will always sadden me, but you taught me how to fight for you. You let me see just how wonderful a father your daddy is and will be for you. You helped me to better understand unconditional love. I learned just how much I can transform my life in order to be a better mother for you.
Thinking back to that one particular long, lonely night feels surreal because where we are today looks nothing like that night. You are healthy. You are happy. I am listening to you turn in your crib, asleep, likely to sleep through until the morning. You have chubby little thighs that support you as you stand unassisted. You rarely cry (although you are quite skilled at whining for what you want). You say "duck!" and whisper "cat" and shout something very much like "Donald Duck!" and maybe say "hi," "bye," and "night night." You down your bottle by yourself in less than ten minutes. When asked, you clap, you high five, you give kisses, you lift your arms in the air for "so big!" You wiggle your butt to dance to the music. You finally crawl fast enough to catch the cat you've been eyeing since you were several weeks old. You smile, laugh, and take joy in life.
Thank you, George.
Happy birthday, butternut.
"1" birthday shirt by Ladybug Couture. She's a local momma, support local business and get a cute shirt. Win win.