Photo courtesy of my sisMy baby Raven,
Today, you are one.
What a year it has been! From the moment you first drew breath, you have seemingly been determined to learn as much as you can every day and to try to hit as many milestones as you can before each new month of life starts---like your mama, through and through, in that way.
Just this last week, you decided to finally give the "walking on your own" thing a try, and your dad and I positively laughed out loud as on your third attempt at walking solo (several days after you'd just taken one step--on two different occasions--and then decided to continue crawling), you took five or six steps in a row and could have kept on going had we not swept you up in our arms to bombard you with kisses.
You're always impressing us.
Your daddy and I pray every night for you, thanking our Father in Heaven for sending us such a delightful child to call our own. We have found immense joy in parenthood, and you help us daily to grow in love and devotion and selfless service and patience and happiness.
I remembered when you were first placed on my chest after an intense 12-hour labor---how unbelievable it was that you had just come from inside me and that we were meeting for the first time at last, yet feeling simultaneously like I'd known you all along. From the moment I first saw you, I felt you were perfection itself, a sentiment I still carry with me.
The first few months were an adjustment, as life with a new baby must be. But despite some bouts of tears and fear of the unknown, I still delighted in my new role as mother, constantly feeling waves of wonder at the immense responsibility and privilege that had been placed on my shoulders.
And as the months have gone by and I am able to see more of "you" come out, I continue to delight in the experience, in the newness, in the awakening. Every day, you make me feel more complete, and every day, you make me want to be better.
I love you, Baby Girl. Happy first birthday to you, in all of your perfection!
"Well, can you believe it's already been a year?" people have been asking us as we prepared to celebrate Raven's birthday.
The automatic response is "No way---it's just gone by so fast!"
But then when I get to thinking about it and talking with Matt about it, we decided that it's the great paradox of parenthood all over again---simultaneously unbelievable and reasonable all at once. Because while the time has seemed to fly due to the fact that we have literally been watching this tiny person grow in front of us, it seems like Raven has been in our family forever, so OF COURSE she should be celebrating a birthday.
And because I tried as consciously as I could this whole year to drink the whole experience in, to revel in her victories, to console myself through her sleepless nights with the knowledge that "this too shall pass," to find delight in each new stage rather than bemoaning the ones that were gone...I think I'm mostly comfortable with her being one.
Yes, I still go through the hormonal mom thing where I look at her and want to cry because she's getting so big. But there's great peace in knowing that I have let myself "be present" as much as possible for this first year of her life.
Have I literally "been present" her whole first year?
Being a working mom definitely has drawbacks that way.
But the moments I AM with her, I HAVE devoted my attention and focus and presence of mind to her as much as I could.
And that's one of the biggest things I've learned and had to re-learn as a new mom, over and over again---the only way to live a life that contains the least amount of regret possible is to be present as much as possible in all the moments (the hard ones as well as the joyful ones), to learn to pay attention to the details of the everyday, since they will one day be a thing of the past.
I still have my moments when I forget---where I worry that I'm not doing enough or being enough or able to be at home enough, or when I "come to" and realize that I've been zoning out and playing on the computer rather than noticing that Raven is trying to get my attention---but then I remind myself that it's all a process, and that I can continually re-devote myself to the effort of reveling in the moment.
Thank you, Raven, for the gift you are. I am forever changed and infinitely better because I get to be your mom.
Can't wait to see what we're in store for during Year Two.
Note: All these photos were taken at the birthday party we threw for Raven last Saturday at my mom's house (since our apartment is too small and too out of the way for both of our families to gather at). It was a fantastic day, even if Raven basically wouldn't touch her cake or ice cream---we've always known she doesn't like things to be stuck on her hands, and she (shockingly) doesn't seem to like really sweet things yet. Such a great day spent with family though! I love how much support our families continually show us.
Second Note: Raven may be the most anticlimactic cake-eater of all time, but she sure is an enthusiastic balloon-batter! Such a cutie. Just in case you wanted to see how underwhelmed she was by her cake, I've included the video I took below.