My friend and fellow mommy-blogger recently posted (on her blog at Mama Instincts) a gorgeous letter to her daughter to mark her baby’s first birthday, which inspired me to do the same. Carolina, mimicry is the most sincere form of flattery, so I hope you won’t mind if today, the anniversary of my son’s birth, I follow your example of writing him an open letter of celebration and love.
My Sweet First-Born,
When I was a little girl, not very much older than you, I dreamed of one day having a baby boy. I had boy dolls, who would laugh and play with reckless abandon, while I (and my girl dolls) were more reserved. I read books about little boys whose curiosity led them on all kinds of adventures. Without a brother or a close guy friend to be my accomplice, I hoped I would one day experience these things with my own son.
When I was told I would likely never be able to conceive a child, I refused to give up on my dream. I kept a list of baby names for years, just in case, and continued to imagine what it would be like to be a mom. Your dad shared my dream, and my optimism.
When I first found out I was pregnant with you, I could not believe it. I remained cautious but hopeful throughout my wonderful pregnancy, getting to know you through your energetic acrobatics and impressive hiccups. Your dad and I decided to wait to find out if you were a boy or a girl, because I was afraid I might be disappointed if I was having a daughter.
When it was time for you to be born, you were in no hurry. I was in labor for almost thirty hours, but you remained your relaxed, easy-going self (that is, your heart rate never wavered), which helped the rest of us stay calm. From the moment I met you, it was if we had known each other forever. Truly love at first sight. When your dad announced you were a boy I almost could not contain my joy.
When I got to know you – from your first smiles, to your first “mama,” to your first steps – it became clear that you are everything I’d dreamed my son would be. You are endlessly curious, eager to explore every new place, object, and sensation with fearless wonder. You have a cheerful disposition, sharing smiles and giggles generously with everyone you meet. You are playful with a great sense of humor, inventing new games and delighting in old ones. You are a great sport, always up for whatever Dad and I want to do, whether it’s a baseball game, road trip, or fancy dinner out. You have added much amazement and laughter to our lives (even if you have taken away some of our sleep).
When I look back on our first year together, I am struck by how much you have taught me. For one thing, I have never been a very patient person. From the day you were born (at 10pm!), you have shown me that even the best-laid plans can omit the most important things. For example, had you arrived earlier in the day last January 20, your Poppy might not have been there to see your entry into this world. We are hardly on time to anything these days, because it is impossible to know when you will need ten minutes of cuddling after a nap, or when you will decide that all the blocks must be in the bathtub before you leave. But some of those moments we don’t have time for turn out to be the most precious of all.
Similarly, you have helped me to be more present, which is a great gift. I have always been a multi-tasker, beholden to ever-growing “to do” lists that keep me in constant motion. Now, when we’re together, all I have to do is enjoy being with you (everything else can wait until you go to sleep). I no longer read legal briefs or alumni magazines on the Metro; I look out the window with you and discover the magic of tunnel lights and boats on the Potomac. Bath time is not so much about getting you clean as reconnecting when I get home from work and winding down from the day. Cooking supper usually involves dance breaks to make you laugh from your high chair.
When I look at the world through your eyes, it seems to be a fun, exciting place. I love to watch you figure out how something works, delight in the sound two objects make when banged together, and clap for yourself upon accomplishing a new skill. Your smile infects me with joy like a drug, and your laugh can cure whatever is bothering me. You make me feel like I have magic powers; I can nourish you when you are hungry, sooth you when you are sad, and heal you when you are hurt. You have transformed me into the person I have always wanted to be: Mom.
When I think about the rest of your life, I sometimes feel very fearful. There are so many harms that could befall you and so much pain that I will not be able to take away. I want to hold you tightly in my arms and keep you one year old forever, so that I can protect you and preserve the sweet little guy you are today. But then who would go puddle-jumping with me after a big rain storm, or build forts with me out of couch cushions, or go fishing at dawn on the lake, or let me comb his hair before his first school dance?
When I think back to this day last year, it is not surprising that I felt I had know you forever, my sweet son. I believe I dreamed you into life.
Happy First Birthday!
I’ll like you for always, I’ll love you forever, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be,