The First Year

Dear Eli,
One year. You have survived to your first birthday, so that means we're really onto something over here!  It was wild, beautiful, hard, perfect.

You have twelve months of complicated human existence under your belt, and while I've got 28 years on you in that department, I have just twelve months of mothering experience.  In a sense we'll always be right on par with each other. That might be one of the most important things I learned this year, which I began to understand at the start of our nursing relationship - we are both new at this.

I want to remember all the lessons from this year, but mostly, I want to remember you.

I cannot believe how quickly this year has flown. I did my absolute best to soak in all the beautiful moments with you, all too aware of how fleeting those early days are. I miss the wrapped-burrito stage when you would snooze peacefully in your little Moses basket (and everywhere, actually - you were the sleepiest baby for the first five months!). There is something so beautiful and breathtaking about the superb tinyness, in which each inhale and yawn is a full-body undertaking. I miss the contented just-sitting-up stage in which rattles and teether toys were all the rage and sedentary pleasures were sufficient.  You were drool-soaked, and full of heart melting, gummy smiles.  I loved our stroller walks, carrying you in the Bjorn, seeing you in winter hats, feeding you new foods, reading you stories, and singing our special songs.  I loved your first giggles, the way your feet would suddenly lengthen before a full-body growth spurt, your crazy hair poking out in all directions, your utter excitement with the ritual of bathing, and your uniquely expressive babbling.  About halfway through this first year, your easygoing baby self became such a little person, complete with very specific interests, definite opinions to vocalize, loving sweetness to share, and an emerging will to assert.

Now, I love your exquisite curiosity for all things with hinges.  I love your hearty belly laugh and the sure-fire ways I know to provoke it.  I love the way sensory experiences purely delight you - wind in your hair, rain on your face, sand in your hands. I love that you are bravely launching from your grasp on the couch to take a few steps before throwing yourself at me and toppling over. I love that you can toddle around our yard holding onto one finger, picking up pine cones and kicking your soccer ball.  I'm fascinated by watching you comprehend new language, and I have to hide a grin as you nonchalantly toss a blueberry over your shoulder in the high chair, out of purely cause-and-effect curiosity.  When you lean in for one of your wet, open-mouthed kisses, I sometimes feel that my ribcage is too small to hold my heart.  When I see flashes of your father and myself in your face, I am in awe.  Just before your birth you were a still slightly abstract idea, and now you are our Eli, fully inhabiting your name, larger than life. In a year, you have gone from a wee sleeping babe to an energetic, joyful, determined, and curious boy.  I'm honored to have a front row seat for this metamorphosis.  

It is part of my process to mourn the passage of time, and with it, the way that beauty transforms the shapes that are familiar to us, turning them into new forms with which we must become acquainted.  There is both fear and excitement in that process for me. I am sad that this first year had to end, but thrilled to be starting a new one with you.  Like all great loves, welcoming my baby into the world and starting our relationship has cracked open my heart.  You have somehow made me both rawly vulnerable and inhumanly strong.

I can't wait to see who you will become this year, and in the years that follow!  Soon you will be a walking, talking version of the delightful creature you are now.  Then the unknown will become familiar again. This is the great joy of my life!  I love you, and future you.



Sabrina said...

((speechless and teary-eyed))

Kelly said...

Love love LOVE this, Anna. You're such a good writer. Isn't it crazy how fast the first year goes? I have to keep telling myself that at this stage of the game. :) It was a good reminder for me. Love you friend!

Kathe said...

What a gift you have, Anna. Another beautiful piece. And what a gift for Eli.

Lauren said...

beautifully written. Happy birthday Eli!

mena said...

that is beautiful! Happy birthday Eli!


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