How did this happen? Well, I know how it happened, I’ll never forget that. But how did this year go by so fast? So fast, like the proverbial blink of the eye. And yet some moments (mostly in the middle of the night) seemed to drag out forever. And yet even in those moments, I know it can’t last, I’m so scared of the speed. I hold her in my arms every day. I cried for a while after I put her to bed last night, the last night before her first birthday. Every day I breath in her smell, kiss her head, laugh at her antics. Love her so hard.
I never felt that deep, driving need to be a mother that some women describe. I considered Dave and I a family, I could even picture a reality in which I never had children. But eventually I wanted to expand our family. So we got dogs. But then we wanted to expand the number of humans in our family. To have a baby. And I had one. This one.
Changes, as we know, can be painful. Some parts of our live, it seems, are over. Certain freedoms, the ability to be carefree and deliciously selfish. The choice to sleep in on a Sunday. Or any other day of the week. The flexibility to stay out late or have a last minute change of plans that extend beyond 6pm. The freedom to watch apocolyptic movies and not be supremely and utterly terrified for your offspring. Those things were sacrificed for the sake of all that is new. The new challenges, wonderful, weird and heart-wrenching.
One year later. There are days, still, when I think am I ready for this? Can I do this? But then I remember: things can only be exactly the way they are. I could never have been ready despite a lifetime of preparation, I can do this and I am doing it.
The love I feel for her is something I never could have anticipated. Greeting card phrases and wise words of friends could never have even hinted at what intensity awaited me after her arrival.
This love, there is nothing like it. It can never be replicated. It is the most natural, true and raw emotion I have ever had. And I have it every.single.day. That in itself is beautifully exhausting.
She is growing up, changing, learning, evolving right before my eyes, in my hands, with my help, without my doing…and I will never lose sight of how lucky I am for that.
A year has never been so monumental for me. What I’ve learned about babies, particularly this baby, has helped to teach me the most valuable lesson: I know so very little. About anything. And it’s strangely comforting. My daughter’s birth has humbled me. Her existence invigorates me. The complexity of my new role as a mother fascinates me.
This year has shown me how to appreciate moments for what they are, not for what we wish they might have been or for what we are always hoping they could become. It has shown me that I am flawed and floundering but still totally and completely capable of giving love and worthy of receiving it. Capable of giving. Worth of receiving. I hope my daughter can learns this lesson much earlier in her life. It’s true for all of us. I know that now.
Strangely enough, I truly felt I knew those things before November 10, 2010. But the hours, days and months following that date illustrated to me that I was only paying those ideas lip service, I didn’t truly embrace the now. The amazing, wonderful, precious fleeting now.
I’ve learned about my daughter, my daughter my very own, and who she is, what she holds, how she views us and the world that makes me see things so freshly. I can barely describe what I’ve learned about Dave as a father, as a man, as my man. I’m overwhelmed by how he continues to surprise me in the most positive ways. What I’ve learned about myself, my body and what it is capable of, my mind and what it can take in and put out, my heart and the size it has been able to swell to. An education I never anticipated life would give me.
To my daughter, my love, my baby on her first birthday I can only say thank you. Thank you for things you could never have meant to do for me, for us. I love you.
The way you make belly buttons seem hilarious. The way you light up when you see our dogs. The way you show your love so freely, without any inhibition. The way you feel music to your very core and dance without any self-consciousness. The way you nuzzle in for comfort when you are sad, hungry, or a little bit scared. The baby raptor pose we find you sleeping in. The way you smell when you first wake up. If only I could bottle that smell. All this and more. So much more.
I love you. Happy Birthday.