Happy first birthday to my wonderful daughter. It’s been an emotional week thinking back a year and reflecting on how life has changed, how you have grown and how we have all developed as people. This time last year it was all about me. Today, it’s all about you. For now you have become a person in your own right and I’m so proud to see you learning about the world for yourself and enjoying life with your family and friends.
When I was pregnant with you, and in your early days, I never stopped to imagine life with one-year-old you; it seemed so far off. The practicalities of the here and now were keeping me busy and I was wrapped up in preparing for and learning how to juggle each day with the sudden addition of a baby. What equipment did we need, were you a boy or girl, stocking up on essentials, how would it feel giving up work for a year… followed by how do I get you to sleep, when do you need feeding, how will we cope with sleepless nights, how do I know what you need when. Reading Gina Ford and the Baby Whisperer eagerly to try and learn the ropes and get things right (my bibles in the early days, but it turned out some days a routine just wasn’t going to work, so the books went out the window after a few months of stress and tears and we went more with the flow).
If I had tried to think as far ahead as this day, what I would have imagined would have lacked the colour and depth of life now. I might have imagined a small human able to crawl, empty cupboards, clap, make some sounds, bang objects together. But having watched you grow and develop in such amazing ways over the last year you are so much more than a checklist of baby skills. You are a wriggly, funny little chatterbox with your own personality and little quirks. You love climbing the stairs and being chased, parading up and down relentlessly with Dexter the push along dog; you put your head to one side to make us laugh and get attention; you hate having your arms touched or being fed. You love to be independent. But most of all I could never possibly have imagined quite how much you mean to me. The thought of you being hurt literally brings tears to my eyes. I look at you and can’t believe we created you, such a perfect little human. I feel sorry for the pre-mum me at my oblivion to what I was missing.
Life before you was all about me, or me and your dad. Us, and what we wanted to do. We spent our weekends and holidays exploring the world, sailing, walking, running, off in Aggie the campervan. It was a happy, exciting, and adventurous time. Occasionally I miss our carefree life. Tiring and relentless as it sometimes felt, it was nothing to the 24/7 nature of having a young baby. There have been times over the past year when I have craved being just me again, rather than the feeding and nappy changing machine who’s life revolves around someone else and has no control over their day. That has been one of the hardest things to adjust to. Days are made or broken by naps, and are essentially unpredictable. When there are chores to do, there is nothing more wearing than a disrupted night followed by a demanding, tired baby who can’t get to sleep, won’t smile and cries whenever you try to do anything for them or with them. The chores don’t get done, and you feel like a hopeless being that after a whole day at home you still haven’t managed to hoover or go and get some milk. But these times are fleeting; negative thoughts soften with the little moments of love that are scattered throughout the day. A little face peeping round the corner to see where I’ve gone, an unexpected smile, a quiet cuddle, a tickle together that holds your attention on the changing mat.
I feel so proud to be your mum when I look at you today. So proud of the person you are developing into, at how far you have come in the last year. It’s been a privilege to have a year off work to spend with you, and I couldn’t imagine a happier way to spend my time. Sorry for all the mistakes I have made, for I know I’ve not been perfect - maybe that’s the downside to being the first child, but we have muddled through together and come up smiling at the end of the blur. We have been on a steep learning curve together.
Wishing you lots of fun and happy times over the next year, and with lots of love (more than you’ll ever understand - perhaps until you have your own children one day),