Dear Lucy Amelia,
I intend this letter to be the first of many I write to you, each year for your birthday. Here goes my first letter to you – I hope you like it!
Wow, you are one! You are spirited (just like you were from day one!), joyful, snuggly, intelligent, demonstrative, funny, creative, and just beautiful! You love to explore things, especially in places you are familiar. At home, you are like a little sponge. You want to know everything about every object. You pick it up, turn it around in your little hands, put it to your mouth, and often bring it to me. If it’s a box or a bag that needs to be opened, you push, pull, or carry it to me and sign “more” so I will open it for you to see what’s inside. You also like for things to match. You will choose two blocks of the same shape, two sippy cups, two pieces of chalk, two crackers, two socks – always one in each hand – to carry as you toddle around our house. You are no doubt an independent little girl, happy to play in your crib for upwards of an hour by yourself, babbling to your beloved giraffe and playing with your aquarium. But despite that independence, regardless of how engaged you are with a toy, you will come do a “check in” with me every few minutes. You toddle over and put your head in my lap, or give me a kiss, or hold up your tiny arms and say, “Up!” so I can pick you up and give you a snuggle. And then, in a flash, you are gone again! Off to the next activity! When we are out at the store or a restaurant, you are more cautious. You are keenly aware of your surroundings, watching everyone intently as they walk past. You point out things you recognize and can label quietly, whispering “baby” or “ball” and then back to just taking it all in. As you become more familiar with any place, you want to explore more. You get angry when you aren’t allowed to walk around a restaurant by yourself or climb the steps of a building we are passing on the street. But when strangers approach you now, you hide your face in my shoulder or hug my legs. You cry if someone else tries to hold you (sometimes even daddy!). I know this is one of those “phases.” And I know that these periodic “check-in’s” and these moments where only momma will do, will no doubt become more scarce as you grow and become your own woman. I am trying to savor them and remember everything about the experience of being your mom.
And as you are learning much about your world, I am learning, too! I am learning that there are no hard rules to being a parent. Sometimes I run to you when you’re crying, and sometimes I know that some of the things you are learning may be accompanied by some tears, and I have to let you do that. I’m learning that there is some unexplained biological response that happens as a parent when I feel that you are hurt or upset. I’m also learning to set boundaries with you because I love you more than anything, and want you to understand how to live in a world with boundaries that are set for your own good and happiness and the happiness of others. You are teaching me, too, little girl. Every day.
As I write this, I think back to when I first met you – that first moment you arrived and started nursing right away. I couldn’t believe you knew how to do that from your first moment of being born! You looked so perfect and new. And I just couldn’t believe you were mine! As you are becoming less of a baby every day and more and more a little girl, I know that I will miss this time like crazy when it was so easy to hold you and rock you to sleep, nurse you to stop your crying, and be there for you to take away all the scariness of a new situation or person. But I hope you will always know that, no matter how old you are, I will always be your safe place. I am so so so so lucky to be your mom. I love you with all of my heart.