Happy first birthday little bug. Officially, I can say you are a toddler now, but in many ways you are still a baby. Or at least you still feel and look like a baby to me because I see the two-year difference between your sister and you everyday. There is so much she can do, think, and say that you cannot yet. For as much as I complain about time having passed too quickly with you (it has), I should also say that I have been able to appreciate your baby-ness.
The greatest lesson you have taught me over this past year is that I can actually enjoy being a mother to both a newborn and a young infant. It took becoming a mother a second time and being your mother for me to realize that new motherhood does not have to be scary or traumatic. For that, I thank you. Being your mother has been filled with redemption and has been an opportunity for me to make peace with the dark shadows of my experience of the early days with Cati. In a way, you gave me closure and, again, I thank you. You have freed me.
I spent some time today looking through pictures and I was shocked by the clarity in which I remember the context of every photograph. The pictures of your first year of life are nowhere near as numerous as those of your sister's, but the ones I do have are more purposeful. Perhaps the reality is that I was more present during this time with you and needed less pictures and I needed more pictures of your sister because I felt like I was roaming around in the fog until she was about nine months old. Who knows? Just remember that it is not about the number of pictures, but the content and meaning of those pictures.
What struck me the most about looking through the pictures was how much you have changed. Your sister has basically had the same face since she was four months old, but not you. I look at the pictures and know it is you because of the features, but if I did not know better, I would think you a different baby. Your face has elongated and thinned out and you have become more petite and pixie-like. You have always been a beautiful baby, but you have gotten prettier with age.
This past month you have gone from taking steps to walking. You have become more expressive and have shown us how much you do understand even without words. You have turned into the most affectionate and cuddly baby and I live for those hugs and big wet kisses. You have truly come to enjoy your sister’s company: every morning you wake up and immediately go to the corner or your crib to look out for her, you love to lay down on her, and oftentimes you are her little shadow. The feeling is mutual too and my favorite memory from this month was one night when we were driving home and, not able to reach you with her hand, Cati reached out to you with her foot. The giggles that escaped both your mouths were the most beautiful sounds. Seeing the love you two have for one another feels like the greatest accomplishment I can make as a parent.
This past year we went on a journey together. We have both grown and changed. You have made me a better person just by letting me be your mother. I have seen you go from being a helpless newborn to a happy toddler with spunk. I knew if I could make it through this year with you, we would be set for life. There will be more difficulties, challenges, and changes ahead, but it was this first year together that scared me the most. We both did it. I need to take this lesson from both of you to heart: you both trust me with your lives, so I should start trusting in myself too.
Thank you Elina-bug for this past year. For choosing me to be your mother and your imperfect guide through this imperfect world.