To my angel baby, on her first birthday —
I love the way you rest your head on my shoulder when you are tired. Your head nestles into the nook of my neck and it feels as though we were designed to be in this pose together, that we were pre-ordained to be this way: mother and daughter in repose, rocking in the green-and-white glider in your 8×8 nursery looking over a quiet courtyard off Central Park West in New York City, listening to the quiet buzz of city life, or the errant ambulance, or the hush of rain, or the rise and fall of your breath as you drift off to sleep.
I love your satisfied sigh when you turn to a particularly beloved page of one of your many cherished books. You are a bookworm already, and often afford your occasionally tired and harried mother stretches of twenty or thirty minutes to comb her hair or make her bed or clean the kitchen while you quietly, thoughtfully turn the pages of your books in your crib.
I love your squinty-eyed grin when I catch you doing something silly, like playing peek-a-boo or throwing toys over your shoulder or mimicking something your father is doing.
I love the shriek of glee you make when I chase you into the kitchen, where you are inevitably en route to play with Tilly’s food bowl. “Have you ever seen a happier baby?” your grandfather routinely inquires when in your presence. You’ve been this way — peaceful, easy-to-please, adaptable, ready-to-smile — since the day you were born. We waited a long time for you, and it’s as if you entered the world willing to compensate for the many months — years! — of anxiety and yearning leading up to your birth.
I love the curious, high-pitched “thith?” sound you make, eyebrows raised, when you are trying to point out or ask for something, gesturing with your stubby pointer finger — “this, please?” To your doting, proud-as-a-peacock mother, your inquisitiveness bears the marks of your father’s engineer mind: you routinely print blank copies of paper by depressing buttons on the copier beneath my desk; you long ago learned how to elicit music from your Baby Einstein music set and the sound books in your library; you turn toys over and over in your hands, feeling the nuts and bolts, pointing out screws to us, unbuckling whatever can be unbuckled; you seem always curious to figure out how to take things apart or put them back together. One of the rare things that makes you truly angry — besides having your hands cleaned after dinner — is when I put your babydoll’s clothes back on her. You much prefer the ritual of removing her clothes and then straining to jam her body back in them, but you haven’t yet figured out how to achieve this feat on your own. My help, however, is abhorrent to you: you are determined to figure it out on your own.
I love your confidence around strangers — the way you wave at the doormen, blow kisses at passersby, and coo when you see dogs in front of us in Central Park. You happily sit on the laps of friends and family members you only rarely see, and when the doorbell rings, you immediately drop what you’re doing and crawl with remarkable speed to the door to great our guests.
I love the way you mirror our actions, rocking your babydoll back and forth; attempting to throw Tilly’s toys to her; playing peek-a-boo; saying “boom!” when you move, rockily and unsteadily, from a standing position to a sitting one, after hearing us say the same many times over.
I love that you are thoroughly you, and that you is perfect for us. Just a day or two after you were born, the nurses in the hospital wheeled you off to a nursery for an hour or two so that I could rest. “Would I recognize her if I saw her in a whole row of babies in the nursery?” I asked your dad, my stomach lurching, suddenly fretful and worried I’d not fully taken you in, not admired you in your entirety, not identified all your beautiful features in the 24 hours I’d known you.
“I’d know her anywhere,” your Dad nodded confidently. “And so would you.”
He was right to assuage my concerns, my urgent query a thinly veiled confession of my self-doubt in my new role as your mom. I wanted to be the perfect mother to you, to model the grace and empathy of my own mother, to not only attend to but anticipate your every unique wish and need in the way only moms can–and I want that now, too. I’ve made significant strides, I think; I know the difference between your teething cry and your tired cry. I know when you’re tired. I know when you are in the mood for a belly laugh, and I know when you’re in a state of mind to sit and read books by yourself. I even have a good sense for which books will interest you, and which will be better saved for another month. I know you like the back of my hand — better, probably, as I’ve spent hours and hours over 12 months taking you in.
But he was also right that we’d have known you anywhere. You were you since you were born — a peaceful, curious baby who came into this world with more of a hushed, concerned, rhythmic wail than a scream. You are affectionate, curious, calm, adventurous, observant, silly, and all-around easy-to-love.
You have made our lives full, laughter-riddled, and joyous.
You have made me a stronger woman — someone unafraid to advocate for herself or her daughter — and a kinder one, too, as I tend to cut people slack more frequently owing to the now-seen complexities of parenthood.
You have made me whole.
And so, my sweet girl, while a big part of me struggles to hold back tears at the thought of the many firsts and lasts we have shared together this past year, of the unfairly brisk passing of time, of the fact that the days when I can rock you to sleep in that green and white glider in your 8×8 room overlooking that courtyard off Central Park West are numbered —
the other part of me wants you to know that I have loved you fully and wholly just as you are every single day since the day you were born, and that there is no sense in looking backward when I have you as you are right now just in front of me, my sweet, silly, corn-silk-haired one-year-old daughter.
Post-Script: Some of My Favorite Minimagpie Posts.
+This post so perfectly captures the last few months leading up to mini’s birth. I can’t read it without tears. For those of you anticipating the birth of a child, or reflecting back on it, I think you’ll appreciate the tender-at-the-bone anticipation.
+Slices of joy when mini was three months old. I love looking back on these early posts — you can see in it the trials and tribulations, agonies and joys, self-doubt and and self-congratulation that attend new motherhood.
+My all-time favorite: firsts and lasts, written — and re-read — with a lump in my throat.
Post-Post-Script: What We Bought for Mini’s First Birthday.
+For her party, I went with a blush and gold palette: these napkins; these treat cups for little handfuls of puffs and Bambas; these cupcake cases to send home with guests; these straws for the aperol spritzes I served; this candle; this banner for the wall and this one for high-chair; and this birthday hat for mini.
+For gifts, we got mini a set of play pots and pans; a retro/throwback pull-along dachsund toy by Brio with a coordinating book (<<die over the illustrations!); a new Maileg mouse for her collection (I’m thinking I’ll give her one each birthday!); and a new book and a stuffy to go with it.
+I wrapped all her gifts in this paper.
+She’ll be sleeping in these new jammies tonight (did I take the animal theme too far? hehe).
+A couple of other toys we considered but ruled out because they were not yet appropriate for her age: Angelina Ballerina book and ballerina doll; an I Love Plum tutu; this cupcake set; a full-size Corolle baby and stroller; these magnetic robots; a ride-on car (<<we lack the space, but I love this style!); and this flamingo bag.