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To My Daughter, On The Eve Of Her First Birthday

My Little One,

I couldn’t think about you turning one until now, because I was so caught up in learning how I fit into this new world of motherhood. But now the time is here and while I feel like I’m ready for this, a part of me is aching to keep you that fuzzy-haired infant forever.

I didn’t think I could love you more than that moment you were placed on my chest, immediately stopping your crying to stare at me in the shock of being born. I didn’t think my heart could hold any more love for you than right then and there. But every single day, I find myself loving you more than the last. How is it possible to love you this much?

You’ve taught me so many lessons about myself, like how I really could handle getting my stomach sliced open with a scalpel because it meant I got to meet you (I didn’t think I could go through with it.) And I admit, I still struggle with patience, like that day you screamed at me for five hours straight and I wanted to stick nails in my ears. But I’m trying.

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Thank you for forgiving me every time I forgot to burp you, or when I didn’t realize you actually had really bad gas. I just thought you were being a jerk.

Being a mom is both familiar and nothing like I envisioned. Before you, I never really got comfortable holding another baby. It’s like I just couldn’t make them fit. But you, cradling you in my arms in those early days was like finding the missing piece of the puzzle. Your tiny body fit into the crook of my body like it was always supposed to be there, just lost for awhile. I wondered how I was ever going to know what to do with you when I brought you home. But to my surprise, we settled into a routine and I found myself going with the flow of new motherhood.

And that’s just it. You’re determined to grow up and I desperately want to keep you little.

When I was pregnant with you, I was scared I was going to screw this whole thing up, you know. And I do, as I’m sure you realize. I screw up every single day. But being your mom has been the biggest blessing ever to have happened and I still don’t know what I did to deserve you.

But that’s not to say the past year has been without struggle. I hope you get to realize this for yourself someday, but babies are hard, my love. They poop a lot and they make piles of laundry and sometimes you have no idea what to do with them so you just cry. And I don’t think I have slept through the night for going on two years now. Because you still want to nurse and be close to me at night and like most requests you demand, I haven’t figured out how to say no to you.

There have been a lot of good memories, though. The first time you smiled, really smiled at me. Your first belly laugh. The first time you got to swing at the playground. When you finally understood the concept of me chasing you, and then you wanted to play chase all the time. My first Mother’s Day with you, after the heartache of waiting so long to have a baby to hold.

You won’t remember these moments, but I will. Like the time I witnessed you roll over for the first time after working so hard at it. Same with crawling. Walking. No matter how many times you failed, or fell backwards, you tried again and didn’t let those setbacks keep you from the bigger picture. I hope you keep this determination your whole life.

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And that’s just it. You’re determined to grow up and I desperately want to keep you little. What a conundrum, right? No one realizes how fast a year can go, until they celebrate their child’s first birthday. Tomorrow, we will celebrate you, and give you presents, and sing “Happy Birthday.” But tonight, as I rock you, I will allow myself to cry a little. For the baby I am saying goodbye to, and for the last year you gave me. I’ll cry because your very existence gives me joy so profound that all the laughter in the world can’t touch it.

I hope you always know how much I love you. How incredible you are. You’ve taught me how to see the world differently, through your eyes. Let’s always stop and pick up that leaf in the yard, and belly laugh when we sneeze. My life is so much better with you in it.

Happy birthday, my darling.



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