These past couple of weeks have been busy and exhilarating as we’ve immersed ourselves in celebrating your 365 (plus, now) days on this beautiful planet of ours. Can you believe how far you’ve come? You’ve traveled all the way around the sun. And while you were at it, you grew from a fairly unexciting (let’s be honest) blob into an enchanting, sweet, funny, big-hearted little boy.
Three Sundays ago (already!), we hosted your first birthday bash in a shelter in Patapsco State Park. We were blessed with glorious weather–not overly hot or muggy but delightfully warm with no precipitation–and 80 of your closest friends and family gathered to celebrate YOU. Nonna and I spent most of Friday and Saturday preparing five dozen cupcakes–split between my favorite chocolate cake recipe and a new, yummy lemon one–that we decorated with M&M’s to look like little blue, green, yellow and orange fish. I applaud myself for not getting overly Pinterest-y with the party, and there was no real theme, per se, but we had a banner and balloons; I strung up your weekly photos to show how much you’ve grown; and we threw in some sweet, personal touches like a homemade birthday hat and a “guest book” that you’ll enjoy for many years in its other capacity as Dr. Seuss’ Happy Birthday To You!
You were adorable. You delighted in being pulled around in your wagon, sharing rides with some of your friends, and when everyone sang to you, you broke into a huge grin. You gingerly poked your finger into your smash cake and sucked off the icing; eventually, though, you went whole hog, painting your high chair and yourself in a lovely, Smurfy hue. When the party died down, you slept off your frosting hangover in your stroller while we cleaned up.
On your actual birthday, Daddy and I played hooky to spend the day with you and reminisce about how you came into the world exactly one year prior. Nonna and Opa joined us for a trip to the zoo, where we walked for hours. You loved making monkey noises at the chimps and staring up at the giraffes, who hung their heads over the retaining wall to greet you (and undoubtedly to wish you a happy birthday). You fell asleep in the car on the way home and slept for hours, so we opened your mini mountain of presents without you.
Since then, we’ve been recuperating: assembling presents, finding room for them in our increasingly tiny house, writing thank-you notes, updating your baby book, editing photos, putting your cards into your scrapbook and just generally trying to keep up with you, a bigger challenge every day.
I could write thousands of words about what this past year has meant to me, how becoming a mom and finding my groove in that role has changed me and made me a stronger, more content human being. But it’s hard for me even to begin pulling that thread, as it unravels so many emotions. I have too much to say. Instead, I’ll share what I wrote in Dr. Seuss’ Happy Birthday To You! on a recent quiet evening when I had a chance to reflect on how your life has filled and shaped mine–and on how you have gifted me the best year of my life.
To my sweet Guppy, on your first birthday,
When you were still in my belly, I thought often about who you might become. I wondered how the tiny being who kept me company all those months would turn out. I never imagined a you as extraordinary as the 1-year-old you are, as smart, funny, vivacious, loving and bold as you’ve shown yourself to be. I also didn’t expect you to teach me so much in just one short year. And I’m not talking the basics, because sure, it’s important to remember to use the front flap of the diaper to protect oneself from the line of fire when in the midst of a change. And no one will argue that naps make everything better. I’ve also learned about your favorites–toys, books, blankets, foods–and about what makes you feel better when you’re sad or cranky. I can interpret your babbles better than anyone (except for maybe Daddy). But you’ve taught me so much more: that my heart can grow infinitely in all directions and you’ll continue to fill it with love; that I’m capable of a patience I’ve never conjured up before and that slowing life down comes more easily than I’d ever anticipated; that I should appreciate each moment–and try to stamp it in my memory–because each milestone passes more quickly than the last; that doing nothing in particular with you is actually everything; that I should wish nothing away. I know you’ll continue to teach me things for the rest of my life–that in the end, you may teach me more than I teach you, although hopefully I’ll teach you enough to help you not just survive but thrive when you’re ready to face the world on your own. I hope I can teach you kindness, compassion, courage, confidence, perseverance and tolerance. I hope I can teach you to be fair. Mostly, I hope I can teach you to love without limits–the way I love you. Thank you for that incredible gift. I am so very lucky to call you mine.
Happy birthday, Sweet Pea! Here’s to all of your many, many, many future trips around the sun–may they bring you endless joy!
I love you so much,