Today you are one year old. You don't know this, because we celebrated about 10 days ago with your first cupcake with your cousins and and will have another gathering with friends on Friday. It has been and will be more convenient for me than a party on a Wednesday, and I have that kind of control over your life until you learn to count and read a calendar.This month, you have really started talking to yourself and pretty much anyone around you. I've mentioned before how much you babble, but lately it sounds like you're actually having a conversation. All the inflection is there ... your voice goes up and down, you pause in all the right places, you ask questions, and sometimes you even change your voice as if now you are repeating the words of someone else. It's just that not much of it is in English. Most of it is in baby gibberish and in a language that only those that know you really well can understand. Your favorite non-words right now are "dis" "dat" and "oh wow" and you say them all the time. You babble jibberish so much that I think that you are under the impression that they are actual words. I hate to break it to you, kiddo, but most of the time I have no idea what you're talking about. If you want to get an interpreter in here, that's fine with me, but in the meantime, I'll be muddling through with gestures and the couple of signs you've picked up. At this point, the words "more" and "eat" make up your your entire signing lexicon. Not exactly the stuff of great oration. Still, it's progress.
Here's a picture of a new face you make. I call it your cheesy grin, and you pretty much shut your eyes you smile so big. I think it started as way to show off your new teeth (You now have 5, with 3 others on their way), but now you do it almost every time I point the camera at you. Apparently, I've got you trained. In this picture you are enjoying your evening bath. Sometimes you follow it up with batting of your crazy long eyelashes...but it is pretty darn cute and gets us lots of conversation with strangers as we go through our daily life.
You loved the cupcake until you were "done" with the stickiness of the icing all over your body and wanted a bath. You loved all the attention you got and the candles and the singing. It was all about you, and that's pretty much your favorite kind of shindig.
Today I find myself reflecting on our first year together which has been a roller coaster of endings, beginnings and transitions that have had me smiling, joyous, exhausted and emotional, Sometimes needing to inhale and exhale slowly, slowly, deeply to try to find some sort of peaceful place for us to be. Sometimes all of these emotions happening within minutes, maybe seconds. Ultimately I celebrate the fact that we have survived the first year of your life. But more so than survived...we thrived, we learned, we loved and we were. I marvel at how much you've changed since the day I first met you, and how much joy and laughter you have brought me, and everything that I've learned this year about you and about myself. And while some of this year has been very hard, because change is always hard, I wouldn't change anything about where I am now with you.
In one short year you have taught me so much: The fine dining of soggy Cheerios, the joy of peek-a-boo, that a 99cent plastic soup bowl makes a fine hat, that a leaf is fascinating, and a pack of tic tacs can provide hours of amusement. You have taught me patience, love and fear. Every day humbles me and brings on intense gratitude for your existence, your spirit and your health.
So as I reach the end of a whole year of writing you these letters, I hope that one day you will read them and know how much I love you. And on the anniversary of my most important and memorable night of my entire life, I salute you. I hope this next year brings you many discoveries and that you always feel loved and cherished. I hope you keep your sense of wonder and your fearlessness that inspires you to climb on that which I wish you didn't. I hope you continue to find simple joys in the smallest of things. I will always be here for you to play chase or snuggle when you wake up in the middle of the night because your teeth hurt. I will always hold you and keep you close and let you go and discover. It thrills me to watch you explore your world.
When I think back to one year ago today, it isn't being in labor that I remember the most, although that was certainly an experience. The strongest memory I have of that day is this:
After you were born I got settled into my bed and your Aunt Jen who was taking care of us brought you to me after they do whatever it is they do when you are born. She left us alone in the wee hours of the morning to go and deal with something about your blood sugar, and it was the first quiet moment I could remember in the last 24 hours. It was the middle of the night, and I was totally exhausted, but I could finally look at you as much as I wanted to. I have had many blessings in my life. God has been good to me in so many ways, most of them ways that I take for granted. But sitting there in the first hours of your life in the dark of that hospital room, I knew that God had turned to me out of everyone in the world and blessed me with the specific, unique, beautiful little person who I was holding in my arms. As we stared at each other blinking at each other in silence, I studied your sweet face...your nose, your eyes....I wondered what the future would hold for us. Since then all the parts of the Bible that talk about how God loves us as His children have seemed so much more personal to me. That's not a generic, one-size-fits-all kind of love. It is a love that is constant, reliable, unconditional, caring and present. That's a love that knows your name. I hope you never forget that.
Happy first birthday.
I love you,