“I would have given anything to keep her little. They outgrow us so much faster than we outgrow them.” – Jodi Picoult
One year ago, at this exact moment, you burst into this world. Getting you here was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, but you were worth every ounce of effort and pain that it took.
The day that I learned that you were on the way, the first thought to run through my head was, “What have I done?!” I was terrified of the thought that, in just 9 short months, I would be responsible for the care and well-being of something so sweet and innocent and breakable as you. When the doctor first put you in my arms, I remember again thinking, “What have I done?!” You seemed so much more sweet and innocent and breakable than I ever dreamed – I was terrified that I was going to fail you. And every day for the last 365 days, I have looked at you and thought, “What am I doing?!” You are so sweet, and so innocent. And even though the bumps and bruises have taught me that you are very resilient, I know that damage isn’t only done on the outside. I am terrified that one day, I’ll do something that might break you.
How can a whole year have passed already? It seems like yesterday that you were nursing to sleep and needed me for every little thing, from holding up your head to getting your burps out. We’ve come a long way since those days. And while it gave me nothing but pure joy to see you hit each milestone – sitting, rolling, crawling, talking, walking – I can’t help but have a heavy heart today because my tiny little baby is officially gone, and my big boy is growing up. And as you grow, it becomes apparent that you need me less and less.
Over the last year, you and I have had a lot of ups and downs together. Like the time we fell asleep nursing and you rolled your little self right out of the bed. Or the time we sat in an emergency room for 3 hours with an unexplained fever. The time that “MA-MA” first rolled off your tongue, the time you first sleep through the whole night, or that Sunday morning when you unexpectedly wobbled your way (unsteadily) between your dad and I on your own two feet, with no help. All the cuddles, the tears (from both of us), the daycare bugs that made me grateful for two bathrooms, the bumps and bruises that seem to happen in the blink of an eye, the smiles and laughs, the impossible diaper changes, the sleepless nights. You’ve brought out the very best in me, and a few times you’ve seen me at my very worst.
You are an amazing little boy. Your personality shines through in everything that you do already. You are curious and happy and busy and so, so smart. Your smile and giggles ignite a spark within my soul. You have grown and learned and become so much of a “real” little person over this last year, and have made me more happy and proud than I even knew possible.
Every day for your short little life, you’ve woken up and viewed the world through a clear lens. Babies and children have that luxury – life has yet to tarnish your perception. But you are starting to learn life’s lessons now. Like when you try to tug at the dog’s eyeballs – you’re learning that you can hurt people and that people and things can hurt you back. When you scream and reach out for your new toys, you’re learning excitement and joy in discovering new things. You’re learning disappointment, when you try to ‘discover’ the electrical outlet or knobs on Grammie’s stove and we have to tell you “no, no!” As you run toward me, grinning ear to ear when I pick you up from daycare, I can see that you’re learning loyalty and dependability – and love. And as you continue to learn life’s lessons, my wish for you is that you hold on to your untarnished view of the world for as long as you can. Don’t ever let the difficulties of life outweigh the joys.
Thank you for making me a mom, Charlie. Thank you for taking it easy on us during those first few weeks, and for always being a good sleeper. Thanks for making sure that your first word was “Mama” – it was reassurance I needed at the time I needed it most. Thanks for being so adorable that we get stopped by strangers every time we’re in public. Thank you for loving me, unconditionally, and for always looking past the little ways I might have let you down. Thank you for making me feel, for the first time in my life, that who I am is enough.
I look forward to watching you grow over the coming years, to watch you find yourself and become whoever it is you want to be. I’ll be there along the way, to help you when you need me and step aside when you don’t. Your first year has been wonderful beyond words, but somehow I know that the best is yet to come. Just remember, there’s no rush – you don’t need to get there too fast!
I love you always,