It boggles my head to think that you are now a one-year-old. It boggles me, because it has been my fastest year to date, and yet I remember so much of it. Usually time skates past and I’m stunned to find it’s the Queen’s Birthday, and then it’s Christmas and hey, where did the year go? But with you, with this year… I have strained and strained to capture many precious moments with you. To paint you onto the canvas of my mind, so these delicious, sweet moments will always be there to gaze at with renewed surprise and pleasure. Vivid. Priceless.
A year ago, I gazed at you through the haze of stunned relief and adrenaline and thought to myself, “What big feet you have. And you have my nose, poor baby. And my hair colour. And yes, you are a girl so we don’t have to change the nursery – although I brought mostly white baby clothes to the hospital, just in case. And I cannot believe how tiny and whole you are!” And you screamed through your first bath, and turned orange with jaundice. And your eyes were always shiny and bright, though slanty and Chinese they may be. And everyone marvelled at how alert you always looked. How curiously strong you were. How you held your head up, as new and fragile as you were. And how you never stopped moving.
And before our eyes, you’ve turned into quite the social creature, with a ready chuckle and a playful heart. Who still finds peek-a-boo the BEST game every invented, ever, EVER, and who will engage a planeful of jaded, tired travellers in 700 rounds of it, if you were allowed. You who will flop face down on the cold, cold tiles in WINTER and dry-swim on a whim. Who tears off hats and trendy sunglasses, and pretty shoes and socks. But will run all day, ALL DAY in the garden with your boots on, if you were allowed.
You, who can last many afternoons on just a half-hour nap and be perfectly content to play by yourself for hours. You, who will stroll up to a group of 4-year-old girls in the library and play sharkbait. Who, even at 6 months, would crawl up to perfect strangers with an infectious chuckle, fully confident they’ll let you join in the conversation. I just want you to know that it freaks many 3-year-old boys out when you do that but honey, if they can’t take your big personality, then you’re much better off weeding out the weak ones this way.
You, who will stand when you’ve just learned to sit. Who will run, when you’ve just learned to walk. Who will dance to Grey’s Anatomy, and laugh at Giggle & Hoot. Who thinks bursting in on daddy when he’s having a shower is the funniest prank ever.
You, who will do anything for an Arnott’s arrowroot biscuit. Which usually means you will say, “Kang-koo!” while simultaneously signing the word “please” across your little chest. Because there’s no time to waste when food’s involved, and it’s much more sensible to give your thanks up front than while your mouth is full of bikkie.
You, will grab my face and kiss me repeatedly because you just feel like it at the time. Big, loud, enthusiastic open-mouth kisses punctuated with “MMMMMUAH!” because you haven’t figured out how to pucker your lips yet. You, who will sometimes forget yourself and give me a pretty good slap across the face in your enthusiasm. And then look completely horrified when you realise what just happened, before you start bawling into my left shoulder in mortification. It happens more often than you think, by the way.
You, who will cuddle your purple plush-toy worm to sleep, and wake up looking for birds. You, who adores animals and cannot get enough of them. You have radically changed my life this year and I cannot believe I still get to keep you.
Being your mother is a blessing that reverberates deep within my soul. Happy first birthday, my baby girl.