In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee…
Dear Beautiful Girl-
When I was a little girl, all I wanted to be was a mother. My friends dreamed of becoming super models and doctors and actors and firefighters, and I dreamed about babies. Though mommyhood was a cute aspiration when I was a carefree kiddo, my homemaker leanings proved problematic as I entered high school, college, young adulthood – how do you study and prepare for raising a child? How do you justify “stay at home mom” as a career goal in the 1990s, when everyone and everything is telling you what a special snowflake you are and how you should probably take over the world or at least start your own company? How do you set into motion a life plan that is dependent upon the presence of other people, one of whom will have to fall in love with you and the other still only a recurring figment of your wistful daydreaming?
Nobody majors in motherhood anymore.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife…
A year ago this Sunday, you arrived, bold and strong and silent and wide-eyed, and made me into the very thing I’d always wanted to be: your mother. I have not fallen gracefully into this, the occupation of my lifelong dreaming – I have clawed my way out of bed at odd hours, wept frustrated tears with you on long and cooped-up days, found myself running short of the energy you so innocently require of me, and somehow stumbled through each of these fivehundredtwentyfivethousandsixhundred minutes by the grace of a good God, with the help of our extraordinary village, and in no small part due to the blessedholyconstant presence of caffeine. I have learned the reality of my selfishness and felt the limits of physical exhaustion. Through wise council and some seriously good hugs, I’ve managed to steadily apply compassion to the parts of me that fail at perfection every single day. I am only imperfect me, and I will only be able to give you an imperfect childhood, but oh, my love, I will give it to you with all my heart.
How do you measure a year in the life…
I have loved you from the moment I knew you would be, from the first time I said your name, from the minute I pulled your slippery body into the air and the light, from so very long before then.
I loved you those long first weeks when we slept little and snuggled often, when feeding you was so incredibly impossibly hard, when we would stare at each other for strings of hours in wonder and terror and awe.
I loved you as you finally ate, finally grew, finally became my girl who laughs and grabs and watches and grins. I have loved exploring this place with you bundled to my chest, on my back, at my hip, by my side.
I have loved you in skies and on roadtrips and through every first everything and will love you through so many firsts to come.
I have loved watching you become yourself, in minutes, in inches, in miles – watching your tiny beautiful face come alive with the fullness of your person has been the greatest privilege of my life.
I have loved every word of every damn repetitive book and song and the endless “You’ve Got a Friend in Me-ing” and the two thousand times we’ve exclaimed our undying love for your ridiculously perfect toes.
I have loved you on our worst days, as much as I have loved anything, probably more.
In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried…
I thought I understood things before you, things like gratitude and discipline and tired and parenthood. But your being has added an angle to the world that simply wasn’t before you, new shadows, new edges to all of my understandings. Everything is deeper, everything is more complicated, everything is so much better, seeing it with you. I thought I knew your Daddo before there was you, but to watch him love you has changed the way I love him into something so much more permanent and fundamental and true. You are such a gift, tiny fantastic you.
It’s time now, to sing out, for the story never ends…
Happy Birthday to you, my most beautiful girl. I have loved every minute of your first year on earth, and I promise you that I will love every minute of every year with you that follows, even the hardest minutes, the angriest, the bleakest. You and I will continue to work our way through our imperfect days – we will rely on grace, we will cling to each other, we will celebrate.
We will measure, always always always, in love.
Thank you for making me into what I always wanted to be, beautiful girl. I am so grateful, today and all days, to be your mama.
Happy, happy birthday, baby. It’s time now to sing.
A note to you, reader: Some day, our girl will come back and read these letters – I’d love for her to know the names of the friends and strangers who have journeyed with her this first year. Now is the moment to let us know you’re here! Please leave your wishes for Fabes in the comment section below, so I can share them with her, as I have shared her with you.