My baby boy’s first birthday letter – better late than never…
It’s early morning on your first birthday. You’re still snoozing. Outside the library window I see the inky shadows of the trees against a deep cobalt sky. I love this time of day, but I don’t always will myself out of bed as early as I’d like since you’re still nursing a couple of times (or more) each night. I pine for sleep; yet, I’m trying to savor these nocturnal nursing sessions when the rest of the world is asleep. It’s my time to focus on nothing but you and how precious you are to me.
As I write this morning, Daddy is getting ready for a long day of work. He’s on call today, so it will be just you, your sisters, and I celebrating your big day. We’re having a family birthday party this weekend.
Last night we sang to you. We wanted Daddy to be around to see you have your first bite of birthday cake. I cut a sliver for you and plunged a candle into a thick layer of white frosting studded with colorful sprinkles. You were getting sleepy and started crying when we strapped you into the nosh pit of your highchair. For once you weren’t eager to eat. You just wanted to go night-night. But the flickering flame of the candle enchanted you, and you started to smile through your tears. Then your crying completely stopped as we all started singing to you. You looked around at each of us, your grin growing bigger by the minute. This is all for me? it looked as if you were thinking.
Yes, the cake, the singing, the candle, the joy of all those who love you the most – it’s all for you, my wonderful, little man – delicious, unalloyed joy.
You dug into the cake with gusto – like you dig in to everything in life. Your whole self immersed in the joy of licking your sticky, frosting-coated fingers just like you find joy in scooting across the floor on your bottom like a crab. You don’t crawl; you scuttle. Very quickly. It makes your sisters and me laugh.
When Madeline was your age, I was so eager for each milestone. She was an early walker and was sprinting by her first birthday. Now when people ask me if you’re walking, I reply, “Not yet,” with a smile. I’m content to just let you be. I’m not in such a rush anymore because I know from your big sisters that everything changes eventually. Milestones are exciting, but they’re also signs you’re growing up. I don’t want to hold you back, but I don’t feel the need to rush things either. And if I’m perfectly honest, I’m dreading chasing you around everywhere once you discover your two feet and how they can take you where you want to go. So keep scuttling along, little guy.
You may be taking your time when it comes to pulling up and walking, but you have plenty to say. Although I had heard boys are less verbal, your vocabulary is growing every day. “Book,” “Rae-Rae,” “hi, and “bye” are a few of the words you sputter out. Oddly enough, “owl” was your first word. Gaba was playing 1-2-3 Owl with you in the spring when you started opening your eyes wide and unmistakably saying, “Owwwwllllll!” right along with her.
Oh, and that word “Mama” that leaves your lips goes straight to my heart every single time.
I’ve been blessed to have pretty happy babies, but you – oh my – you are the incarnation of pure contentment. Sometimes when I’ll see you happily observing your sisters and sitting in the same spot not because you can’t move but because you see no reason to reach for things out of your reach (everything is fine just as it is), I think of those “Life is good” t-shirts. That’s what you convey most of the time: Life is good. Even when you’re tired or hungry or frustrated, you try to be happy. I can’t tell you how many times you’ve started giggling in the midst of your tears.
My wonderful, little man, you are an unmistakable timepiece. I don’t feel like I’ve changed much in a year other than my pregnant tummy deflating. But you, you’re getting bigger by the day.
Evidence of this:
Exhibit one (then)
Exhibit 2 (Now)
Just one year ago your dad and I were aimlessly wandering through Bass Pro Shop. I was in early labor wondering exactly when I’d get meet you and if you’d turn out to be a boy or a girl. I was leaning toward girl, but maybe it was prescient that we found ourselves surrounded by camouflage and other manly, outdoorsy accouterments in a place like Bass Pro Shop just a few hours before you made your big debut.
I never could have imagined having a boy after only knowing girls. I never could have imagined having YOU and how you’d stir something deep inside of me, how your frequent nuzzling, your bright, brown eyes, your reaching for me with those chubby, dimpled hands would pull on all my nerves and invite me to respond, to love. You and I cloistered off together in our own quiet, little world. Although you’re certainly on the move more these days, you’re still quite the cuddler, and I love it. I revel in those cuddles, nuzzles, and gooey kisses.
People ask me if it’s different having a boy after three girls. Well, it was different getting peed on and having to change your clothes a gazillion times a day until my pediatrician told me I might consider tucking your equipment down in the diaper. Ahem. Lesson learned. But, really, it’s just as different having you just as it was different having each of your three sisters. It’s different and amazing and wonderful and an adventure every single day.
You are an answer to a prayer I never even knew I was praying. You are my baby, the one with chunky, delicious thighs, the one who raises his eyebrows at me when you’re particularly pleased. You’re the one who, like your big sisters, teaches me how to love. Many of the lessons are fun and beautiful and ones I want to hold onto and remember always like when I nurse and you pull off just to beam at me, those big, bright, dark-chocolate-brown eyes shining. Other lessons in love aren’t so easy like when you finger painted with your poop or when just this week nature called and you made a stink in the bathtub and Mary Elizabeth shouted, “It’s all muddy in here!” Oh, if only it had been mud all over the place.
Thomas, I’ve never liked it when people have asked if I had good babies. All babies are good, but not all babies are easy, but you – despite the few calamitous poop incidents – you are an easy one, a happy, little guy who smiles and laughs and naps (woo-hoo!) and is more prone to blissful babbles than crying jags.
Year one has been a very good year indeed.
Happy birthday, little man! You’ve got quite the hold on my heart, and I love you more today than yesterday.