One year ago, you burst into the world. You were born, and so I was reborn. Your father and I gave you your new name – Miles – and you gave us ours – Mama and Dada. The first time I heard you laugh, my heart set sail, and each time you cry, it crashes to the ground and shatters into a million little pieces. You are my light, my joy, my pain, and my breath. I watch with wonder as you discover the world around you. I shudder at your frustration when you are unable to do whatever you’re so desperate to do at the moment. I resist the overpowering urge to do things for you, knowing that you need to learn to do them on your own. Sometimes I stare at you as you nurse or sleep, and I am utterly amazed by your presence, your beauty. You are your father’s image, younger and more innocent. On rare occasions, I can catch a glimpse of myself in you, but mostly, you are him.
Your eyes have yet to reflect the darkness that life’s trials can bring. Instead, they are full of wonder, hope, and unbridled joy. I watch you marvel at the world around you, at all of the things that grown-ups take for granted. “Woof!” you say, when you see a dog (or a cat or a squirrel, for that matter). You light up when your pets greet you at the bedroom door in the morning. You call the dog with me by imitating my kissing noises when I call her to us, and happily exclaim “Boo!” when you see her. Your conversations with your father go a little something like this: Miles: “Da daaaaaa.” Dada: “Yes, Miles?” Miles: “Daaaa daaaaa.” Dada: “Hi Miles.” And it goes on endlessly while we all laugh. Sometimes when you are nursing, you gaze up at me and stop, just to smile at me. Sometimes you try to sing while you’re nursing. And sometimes, you throw your arms violently, wildly tossing your blankie across the room in frustration, and I wonder what is going through your mind. Most recently, you’ve started holding my hand while you nurse, which seems to calm both of us.
You are crawling so fast that we can barely keep up with you, and you’re learning new skills at an alarming rate. You’re cruising along the furniture, and pulling yourself up to your feet at every opportunity. I listen with such a full heart while you and your father play, chasing each other around the house and laughing uncontrollably.
You’re learning new words every day. Besides “woof,” you also say mama, dada, juice, ball, moo (when asked what a cow says), meow (although it sounds more like oooouuw) and the beginnings of the word cheese. You said “dada” first, followed by “woof,” with “mama” coming in third. For a long time, every time I asked you to say “mama” you looked me square in the eyes and said “dada.” After a while, you responded with “woof” when I asked you to say “mama.” I was beginning to feel a little jaded, but then you finally said “mama” one morning after nursing. I’m not sure if you know that’s me or not, but you can say it, for sure.
You are fickle about food, loving yogurt one day and hating it the next. But you always eat your cheese. It’s not surprising considering that is what I craved the entire time I was pregnant with you. Each time you taste a new food, you scrunch up your face, sure you don’t like it, only to be pleasantly surprised a second later when the taste hits your tongue. You have eight teeth already, and you find biting into food pretty funny.
Each evening before bed, you and I go for a walk around our little neighborhood. When I tell you that play time is over and put you into the baby carrier, you usually resist. I think you would keep playing all night if I let you. But by the time we are barely 10 feet out the door, you have settled against my chest where I can feel you breathe. As we walk along, I kiss your head and sing to you, as the calmness takes over and sleep nears. I can’t help but notice each evening how perfectly my chin fits nestled into the bridge of your nose when I kiss your forehead, like they were made for each other, or from each other. I cannot find the words to express the love and closeness I feel during these moments. Feeling you in my arms, feeling your chest rise and fall against my own, and knowing that, for just a few moments, the rest of the world does not exist, I focus all of my attention on you. I treasure these moments with you, since I know they will not last forever. This time next year, you will be walking beside me.
I once read that having a child is agreeing to wear your heart on the outside of your body for the rest of your life. For a year now, my heart has been exposed to the world, yet I could not be happier. You are my heart. You are the entire world wrapped up into a perfect, tiny little package. Being your mother is more incredible than I ever could have imagined. My heart feels like it will explode with the love that I feel for you each and every day, only to find that the next day, I love you even more. Happy birthday, Smidgen. I love you.