Dear Baby, Today you are one. A full year has passed since you arrived, pink and screaming and strong. A full year has passed since I first studied your tiny face and kissed the tip of your nose and whispered your name in your ear. A big name that fits you perfectly.
A full year has passed since we brought you home, over the threshold of our good life and into our world, a world of which you are now inextricably and organically part. A full year has passed since your big sister studied you, slumbering and snug in your car seat, and then rocked you back and forth with unparalleled gentleness.
This weekend, we took you and your sister to the zoo. You were mesmerized by the llamas and the bunnies and the proud peacock. Your Daddy helped you feed a goat. You held out your tiny hand, splaying dimpled knuckles and chubby fingers, and watched in awe as this creature gobbled from your palm. You were not scared.
It was a magical day. A mixture of steady and stumbling, you chased your big sister around. You stayed close and strayed. You mimicked and did your own thing.
In this picture, you stand on a bridge at the zoo. You had run ahead of me, testing nascent wings, and while worry zipped through me, I hung back. I watched as you stopped squarely in the middle of that bridge and looked around. And like a good mother, I snapped a picture. To capture your cuteness and your spirit. To capture my baby on that bridge.
That first bridge.
Between there and here. Between here and there. Between baby and toddler and person. Between mine and ours and yours. Because we might hold you tight and protect you and feed you and sing you to sleep, but you are already yours.
Today, I can't help but look back - at your first day and first smiles and first steps. But I can't help but look forward either - to the day when you sing and speak in sentences, to the day when you can feed the goats on your own, to the day when you and your sister can have conversations. But most of all, I imagine a day when you can read these words and the ones that will follow. I imagine and hope that in reading these words, you will be able to glimpse your beginning and with it, the furious and complicated affection I have for you and your sister and your Daddy. An affection that fuels me. That compels me. That makes me tear up in Starbucks at 10:16am on a Monday morning.
Happy Birthday, Baby. Keep sniffing and smiling and stealing your sister's yogurts. Keep growing and learning and treading life's bridges. We will always be here to hold your hand or hang back.
Insecurely and forever yours,