It’s like you knew you were turning one. Your face has changed this week. You stand a little taller. Your expressions and movements are more focused, more animated, more controlled. You now say Mama to me and I know you mean it. (Here’s a tip: as much as I love to hear this one now, don’t overuse it, baby.)
Thank you for being so forgiving this past year. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing when you arrived, and you made it pretty easy for me. You smiled, you slept for hours, you stayed in a good mood the entire time you’ve been alive. You really are the happiest baby on the block. Everyone comments on how smiley you are. We’ve grown together, trying to figure out who we are becoming.
Just as much as I’ve made you, you’ve made me into a new version of myself. Your birth taught me how strong I was; your life has taught me patience, sacrifice, and selflessness. It’s also burst my heart open with a love that can’t be described, so volatile as it is. So raw.
Watching you grow fills me with such joy. And sadness. But mostly joy. You make us laugh. Your scrunched up smile is infectious. You shake when you get excited (or get in trouble). You make these hilarious farting sounds over and over again with your mouth. You learned how to use a straw, then learned how to spray me with water from it. You get crazy excited about your toys, flinging them everywhere and squealing. You have learned to climb over everything. You have no fear. You are such a boy.
You have a zest for life, just like your Daddy. You are goofy, like your sister. Your smile is just like your Grandpa’s. You have the diligence and focus of your Aunt Jannie. You scrunch your face up just like your Grandma. I’m not sure yet what you get from me. Definitely not your agility. Maybe your intelligence…?
Your sister loves you, so so much. And you can’t get enough of her either. You crack each other up. Of course, you bother her too, already. You want to be doing what she’s doing, and you follow her, hoping she’ll pay attention to you. She loves to carry you around, and hold you down, and make you squirm. I’m sure that will go on until you outgrow her and get her back.
I love rocking you to sleep still. Even though all the books say I shouldn’t be doing this anymore, I can’t help it. I love how you still put your hands up by your ears when you’re laying in my arms, it’s your relaxing pose. You did this in utero, you came out of me with those hands up, and it still for you is the position that puts you to sleep. And I still watch you as you sleep. I don’t know how you can’t feel my stare, because I look at you for a long time, trying to memorize your face as it is; as a baby. You are becoming a boy so fast.
Sometimes when I’m holding you, I wish I could absorb you back into my body, keep you safe and protected there. Keep you mine. But you are not mine. You don’t belong to me. You belong to you. Since you were born it has been a process of me learning to let go, inch by inch. Each and every day you yearn to be a little more independent. As soon as you came out from inside me, it has been your job to learn how to be separate from me. And my job is to let you.
I will do my best at this job. This balance of teaching you, protecting you, holding you, and letting you go. It may not be perfect. I will stumble a lot along the way. But my promise to you is that I will make sure that you get to be the best you possible. I will provide the frame, so you can build who you are meant to be. You will be loved, whomever you become, whatever you choose in this life. You always will be so loved.