Happy birthday to my sweetest little Emma Sophia! Even though I’ve written to you every day over the past year, I’m struck by two thoughts today. First, I am just not sure how we got here. How are you a year old?! Times has neither gone inordinately fast or slow, but it is just a physical astonishment that you have gone from a teeny, tiny immobile baby fresh from my belly to a babbling, active, toddling little girl in just a year. The changes we’ve observed in you are something I’m tempted to call unbelievable, if only I hadn’t been watching them for the past year.
And secondly, despite all of the prose over the past year, I still have so much to say to you. Over these past 365 days I’ve tried to capture your developments and milestones, new skills and funny antics. I’ve strived to capture the effects you’ve had on your dad and me, our feelings and growth, struggles and joys along the way. And yet, I still have a multitude of things left to say. Some are items I’ve forgotten, events or developments that are easily missed or forgotten in the minutiae of everyday life. But some are things I just don’t know how to say, or haven’t yet fully grasped or processed.
I think about the countless hours I’ve spent staring at you while you sleep in my arms, wondering how I’ve created something so perfect. I just can’t understand it. Of course I understand the mechanics of it – the birds and the bees of it – but I just cannot comprehend the awesomeness of you, coming from me. You are perfect. I love you so much that I literally wake each morning missing you and anticipating the minute I’ll get to scoop you out of your crib and give you a kiss. I’ve had so much fun with you this past year; you really do make our family complete.
I look back over my writings from this past year and realize that I’ve forgotten to highlight so many things: your first time sledding, the grunting sounds you make when you walk or crawl around; the loud slap slap slap you make as you crawl across the tile floor; how you love love love to grab glasses off of people’s faces, and you can do so quicker than we can react, even though we should know it’s going to happen; also how you love to grab onto noses and try to rip them off of people’s faces; how much you love balls, and are adept at passing one back and forth on the ground, though you can also pick balls up with your feet and pass them to your hands. Sometimes, you even bounce them back to us. You understand that shoes go on your feet, and hats go on your head, and if you find any laying around you’ll try to put them on, which is ironic because when we put those items on you you’re quick to try to take them off. You love your doggie brothers, and your face turns into a huge smile almost every time they enter the room, and even when they give you slobbery dog kisses.
I haven’t quite accurately captured the little personality that you’ve developed. I’ve talked about how curious and smart and active you are, yes, but have I thoroughly conveyed how sweet and funny, outgoing and independent you are? How can I even begin to explain how you have so thoroughly stolen our hearts?
Let’s take stock of you, today. You have four teeth, your two middle top and bottom teeth. You have a thick head of fine, straight dark hair that’s slowly getting longer and that naturally falls to the right of your forehead. You have very long fingers, which strangers have even commented on before, and long legs. You have the prettiest brown eyes and enviable long eyelashes. You are a strong, active little daredevil and I’ve never seen you behave shy or timidly. You are smart and curious. You are perfect.
You aren’t attached to any toys or stuffed animals. Some of your favorite toys are your walkers and your tea set. You like to pull clothes out of the drawers in your dresser, and particularly love finding a pair of red Christmas leggings, which you then carry with you all over the house as you go exploring. You like to point and play peek-a-boo and discover new things to play with.
We had a fun day today, celebrating both you and your nana. Nana and pap spent the night last night, and you woke up bright and early (5:30!); apparently you were anxious to get your birthday celebrations going. Papa woke up pretty early too and came out and played with you. When your dad joined us he suggested that we’d have to play the Beattle’s song ‘You Say it’s Your Birthday’ for you and your nana (since you share a birthday). So we found it on YouTube and started playing it. What fun! Then we opened a few presents. You loved climbing on them and opening them.
You took an early nap then we all headed out for a fun birthday breakfast at Snooze. You had on your ‘One’ shirt with a tutu and a headband and you were adorable. People in the restaurant kept commenting on you. The waitress brought out a birthday pancake, complete with candles, for your nana and you and we sang happy birthday. It was your first birthday candle because we forgot to do one at your party. You enjoyed pancakes, bacon and hashbrowns.
Next, your dad headed back to work and the four of us roamed around downtown. You played in a couple of the play areas on the Pearl Street Mall; this was the first time you’ve done this. You seem like such a big kid. We decided to head home because we knew you’d be ready for a nap, and the instant we put you in the car you fell asleep. Your nana and I are always up for more shopping, just like your papa’s always up for spending time with you (even if you’re asleep); he sat in the car and watched you while we shopped. You slept for almost two hours! This evening we went to Southern Sun for dinner and drinks with nana and papa. You enjoyed lots of fries and even met a new baby friend. Then we headed home and got you ready for bed.
As we were getting you ready for bed I realized that we’d forgotten to take your official birthday picture and I ran to grab the 12 month sticker so that we could take it. I reached into the envelope that at the beginning contained stickers for each of your first 12 months, and my hand felt around the near-empty envelope and settled on the lone remaining sticker. As I pulled it out I suddenly found myself in tears. I’m not sure why that single remaining sticker pushed me over the edge, but it was a tangible, visible display of how much time has passed.
When your dad inquired what was wrong I didn’t have an answer, simply replying that I “was sad you were already one”. I’m not sure if that accurately describes my emotions. I am having so much fun with you at this age, in this moment, just like I have been every day along the way. I do miss the teeny-tiny snuggly-ness of the newborn you, when I could wrap you closely to my body and we’d go about our day as if we were one again. But I also relish in your active nature, the ability of you to engage and interact with us and others, your sleeping through the night and predictable routines, watching your personality and language and understanding of the world around you develop. I think it’s just hard to see this chapter – your first year – come to a close. It’s been such an adventure. Happy birthday!