Last week, we celebrated your FIRST BIRTHDAY !
A whole year has gone by since the day we first met you. I can hardly believe it.
Over the last week or so I have taken many moments to stop, close my eyes, and to be still in that knowledge: you are one year old.
It’s a big deal. And yet (I warn you) this letter itself will be insignificant. There is simply no way for me to put into words just exactly what this means… what YOU mean to me. So instead, I will have to resort to clichés. Which, by their very definition, lack meaning. And even if they do convey meaning, they certainly lack originality – yet, here I am, with nothing else to say to my first born at the end of his first extraordinary year of life, other than a bunch of clichés such as ‘time flies when you are having fun’ and ‘I don’t remember anything before you’ etc. etc. But, as I am starting to realise – that’s motherhood.
That’s exactly how it is, baby. There are billions of mummas feeling the exact same things, to the exact same depth, in every moment, of every day. Motherhood is one big cliché. But I am telling you – that doesn’t make it any less original, or any less meaningful. It just means that you won’t ever understand what I am feeling right now, until you hold your own baby in your arms, celebrating their first birthday.
But until then, all I can do is try to explain >
You are my first born. And this first year of your life will forever define me as a mother. Everything I have ever been, or will be, could be defined by you. You permeate every ounce of my being. You belong in my past, retrospectively, and you guide my future. This first year with you has been the most challenging, painful, frightening, exhilarating, joyous, and love-filled year of my life. It has been everything. And I know, it has only just begun.
As it goes… I had wanted to write to you the night before your birthday, to capture all of the feelings I had before they gave way to a new day, and a new year – but life happened instead:
I spent almost the whole day making your birthday cake, whilst you played happily and threw me the occasional grin, then when your daddy got home from work I went out to a business meeting. When I came home you were already fast asleep… so I ignored that pinched feeling of ‘I should give him one last cuddle as a baby’ and instead tiptoed around outside of your room, putting all of your gifts out, and filling the space in-between with balloons, before I finally succumbed to bed myself. Curled up with your daddy, we watched you for a little while on your monitor, feeling amazed at the year we have had, excited for the years to come, and so utterly grateful for you ~ our wonderful little boy. ~ We didn’t really have any words other than ‘aww Beau… look at him…little Beau…,” so before long I was asleep and dreaming too.
And, just like that, the first year of your life gave way to your second.
I woke to the sounds of you chattering in your cot… so your daddy and I bounded out of bed and went into your room singing ‘Happy Birthday to you!’ You were standing and smiling and happy as always to see us. I scooped you into my arms, you pushed your face into my neck as is your usual morning custom, and you had your favourite breakfast of banana and kiwifruit. I helped you open your gifts, whilst your daddy took pictures, and we spent so long trying to explain to you why your silver balloons were floating to the ceiling (helium) that, before we knew it, it was time to go…
We had your final Baby Sensory class, which was such special timing. And, with your daddy there too, I was able to sit back a little and observe you more than normal (aka – not spend the entire class running after you!). You were your usual happy, confidant, and sociable self – cuddling, and climbing amongst, and squeezing all the other babies and mummas there. We sang songs, and played games, and right at the end of class you were wished another ‘Happy Birthday to you…’ and I’m not going to paint this any differently to how it was: I cried. Great big joyous tears spilling down my flushed cheeks and flooding my glasses. You sat in the middle of the circle bobbing and clapping and I crawled over to you and kissed you so hard. THIS IS MY BABY BOY ONLY HE ISN’T A BABY ANYMORE. I wanted to scream.
But all the other Mummas knew what I was feeling. They feel it too.
Next we gave you a bottle of milk, and we had coffees, and we sat like a proud little family in the café who had survived their first adventure – before you napped in the car on the way to Butterfly Creek.
We took you to Butterfly Creek because it seemed like the sort of place to take a little boy on his first birthday who has recently started walking… we wandered through the butterfly house, and looked at crocodiles opening and closing their mouths, and your daddy and I argued because he took you too close to the railing for my liking and I had a whole situation of Beau falling in and me rescuing you playing out in my head, and then we went to see baby goats and lambs and rabbits, and we spent most of the time stopping you poke them all in the eye, and then we saw baby rats which were so young they were bald and pink and blind and I could have cried at how special and new they were, and then you sat on a big tractor without the engine in and reached immediately for the gear stick and your daddy looked at me chuffed whilst I rolled my eyes in prospective worry, and then we dashed like mad things for the train ride…
Your daddy and I muttered some comments to each other about ‘…underwhelming… just going round in a circle… nothing to see…’ and then I saw you again. Your eyes were wide, your arms were in the air, and we ‘whoop whooped’ all the way back again.
Once we got home, you played with your new toys whilst I put the party food together and your daddy tied helium balloons to every possible surface. Soon our house was full of family and fun and at 5.50pm – the exact moment you came to us – we lit your candle, sang to you once more, and cut your first birthday cake.
Even though I made a banana cake, and filled it with fresh banana slices especially for you, because I know you love them – you were far more interested in playing with your cousins… filling your Aunty Heather and I with such joy, at our boys loving each other so much… and before too much longer, you were half asleep on my shoulder as I carried you into your room shouting goodbye to everyone heading home.
And thus ~ your second year had already begun…
Baby, you turned one year old and the majority of the world didn’t even notice. Most of our friends didn’t even notice. To everyone else, the day came and went just like any other – people were busy with their own families, doing their jobs, and living their lives – whilst in our little corner of the world we were celebrating something extraordinary. That my little baby boy is no more.
This doesn’t mean the world doesn’t care. There are a great number of people that would care about you, baby. But you are just another person. Just another person ready to make your own mark, in your own way.
But whilst you are just another person in this world, baby – you happen to be the whole world to us. And you always and forever will be. YES IT IS CLICHÉ to say that you are the best thing to have ever happened to me, that you make the world a better place, that I would die for you if it came to it – but you are, you do, and I would.
I love you baby in a way that terrifies me. Because there is no limit. It is a physical love that beats my heart, heats my blood, grips my stomach, and leaves me breathless. Every time you feel something – joy, uncertainty, sadness, excitement – I feel it too, right along with you. My life has become smaller, and bigger, all at once. You have surrounded me in a kaleidoscope of light and shade and colours and feels, and above all you make me feel more alive than I have ever felt before.
For your first birthday, I wanted to hide alone somewhere – to remember and relive every single moment of the journey we’ve had so far – to feel that new life growing inside of me; the intensity of my heartbeat; the swell and stretch of my tummy as the physical representation, not only of you, but of my love; to see your daddy’s face, overflowing with his devotion; to feel that warm, soft skin next to mine; the first look into those soulful eyes; those tiny fingers gripping onto me with attachment because you didn’t know you were separate from me yet… someday, baby, I want to give you a little brother or a sister, so our family can grow, and you can be surrounded by love from all angles.
Baby – all of these words are insignificant compared to what I feel for you.
You are one year old and growing up so beautifully. You are curious and cheeky and playful and affectionate. You are determined and sweet and gentle and strong. I learn more about you every day, but I will never forget the brief time when you were nothing more and nothing less than my little baby. I will never forget the moment I first saw you. Or the moment I first kissed you. Or the day we first brought you home. All of your firsts will be with me to the last.
I love watching you grow, and learning more about the world through you.
You have made our lives so much more beautiful, Beau.
And how do we thank you for this? I made you a cake and threw you a party. We filled balloons and blew bubbles. We sang songs. We bought you gifts… but what gift can I get you than says everything I need to say? That you are the most wonderful creature. That you amaze me daily. That I am both lost and found. That you make me scared and proud and overwhelmed with love. That I would give you every last ounce of myself, to see you safe and well and happy. That I would literally do anything for you. That you matter more to me, than me.
No gift will say that; no gift ever can. So I hope you enjoyed your toys and your cake. And I hope that deep down you realise – the real gift is you.
Happy first birthday, my baby. It really was.
“A one-year-old child is so many things,
a tiny discoverer of butterfly wings,
a hugger of teddies,
a sweet sleepyhead,
and someone to dream for in bright years ahead.”