One Year Old: Happy Birthday to You
One year ago today, in the wee hours of the morning, in the tub in a center of our living room, in a house bursting at the seams with people who already loved you even though they had not yet met you, you were born.
The days are long, the years are short. Or they go by fast. Or rather, they press forward at a frightening pace, at lightning speed, even though the days they contain sometimes lollygag with the snails and the sloths.
Some of my days with you have been long. Relentlessly long, even. Exhausting and frustrating and long. But at the end of this year, as I look back on your first trip around the sun, I can barely see the details of those days. Mostly, I just see your smile. Your rosy cheeks. The way you love to perch up on your knees when you’re sitting. Your blue eyes. The curls on your head, especially the ones that form wispy horns on the sides of your ears. Your screeching. The way you call me “Mama.” Your hands as they sign for “more.” Your face as your eyes meet mine when you’re nursing. The delicious rolls on your legs. Your sashay as you crawl away from me. Your giggles of delight as you play with your brothers. Your snuggly body all curled up against Daddy as you sleep. The slobbery kisses you plant on my face. The way you smash bananas and avocados and lentil pie and pasta and sweet potatoes into your mouth. Your persistence and sweetness and stubbornness and adorableness, always and ever-present in everything you do.
There have been days where I couldn’t wait for this first year to be over. But now when I look back on the year itself, I’m searching for ways to stop it all from stopping. For some way to keep you like this, just for a little bit longer.
This past month, you’ve both blossomed and stayed the same.
Sleep is an issue–and an activity–that seems so impossibly far out of my reach some days. When will we all sleep again? When will you sleep like you did back in the summer?
But at least you nap now. You typically nap twice a day, sometimes for one to two hours at a time. You only do this if I’m wearing you in a baby carrier, but at least you do nap. So there’s that. At least there’s that.
You’ve also begun standing on your own for a few seconds at a time every now and then. With that being said, you don’t seem too keen on walking, and I’m not sure it’s because you don’t want to walk. I think you’ve simply made an astute calculation: crawling, and crawling at your speed, moves you around the house far faster than any wobbly first steps could. Why waste time with walking, then, when you can crawl faster than most toddlers run?
You have also developed a fearless and thrill-seeking streak, one that has led to a newfound skill set: namely, removing the outlet protectors from the wall. In many ways, you are a baby who defies baby-proofing. You are even defiant in the face of baby-proofing, what with the way you mourned (or was it “heaved yourself into a volcanic rage”) the moment I placed cabinet locks in our bathroom. You even found a way to use the playpen we borrowed from your cousin as a walker of sorts, “steering” it around the house and driving what we call your “bus of doom.” (If you wonder some day why I need to have you in a play pen some days, please refer back to “newfound skill set: removing outlet covers from the wall.” Also: “not napping outside of my arms.”)
In the past month, you’ve also had your first Christmas and your first New Year’s Eve. Christmas was both wonderful and sad for you: wonderful because you loved the lights and wrapping paper and excitement, but sad because you came down with a terrible cold the day before Christmas Eve. You were downright miserable on Christmas Day, all congested and pink-cheeked and tired. But you powered through, and you got to eat risotto and lasagna, and someone might have even sneaked you a piece of a Christmas cookie. The most important thing is that your first Christmas involved you being surrounded by seventeen people–parents, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins–who loved you.
New Year’s Eve proved to be a healthier evening for you, and one that had you laughing with (at?) your dad and brothers and I as we danced our way through the night. I can’t remember if you stayed up until midnight. My guess is that you might have been awake, though you might also have been asleep for a couple hours then considering your unpredictable sleep habits. And this, I suppose, is all fairly irrelevant when it comes to remembering your first New Year’s Eve. What I recall with most fondness is the look on your face as Daddy danced with you in his arms.
Like most of the year, what I now remember most is your joy. Not your sleeplessness. Not the moments where you were crying, or sick, or unhappy. The moments that I can recall most clearly and vividly are your moments of joy.
I love you, baby boy who’s no longer a baby. I’ve loved this first year, even when it sent my patience out to starve in the desert. I’ve loved so many of these moments with you that I’d try and make time stop if I could, if only to enjoy these moments for a minute or two longer.
That is, until I realize that the years ahead have thousands, perhaps even millions of moments for me to enjoy even more.