A Letter to My Daughter at the End of Her First Year.
I can’t believe an entire year has come and gone. It’s still crazy to me that last year at this time I didn’t understand what it would mean to love with this type of fierceness. I didn’t realize how many times I would kiss your cheeks or check the baby monitor, how I would constantly worry about your safety and happiness. I was unaware of how much joy you would bring to my life. I had no idea how much you were going to change in just a year or how much I would change for that matter. I’d like to think that we’ve both grown this year. That we’re both different people then when we started.
Thank you so much for all that you have taught me. I honestly thought I was strong and steady before you came along but I now realize that I hadn’t even begun to tap into the depths of my strength.
I can still remember that night when you were just a few weeks old, your dad had an interview for a new job the next day and was prepping in the basement and you just wouldn’t stop crying. I tried bouncing, walking and feeding you but nothing would soothe your soul or my frazzled nerves. In a last ditch effort, I went into your bedroom and we swayed as I sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star into your ear over and over again. And you, of course, didn’t know, but tears streamed down my face and onto your little head as I sang. Tears for the lack of sleep, the blasting of your cries in my eardrums, for all I couldn’t do for you. But we swayed and danced and I sang until all the words blurred and you fell asleep in my arms. Finally. It was then I knew that I would do anything I could to bring peace to your life. That our lives were intertwined, that I was staring directly at my heart in your sleeping face.
I’m now so much clearer on the things I wish to teach you, the values I hope I’m already instilling in you: independence, resilience, kindness, empathy, strength and love. I’ve come to know that the world can be cruel and painful and unfair but I truly believe that your attitude will help to bolster you against some of that hatred. That these foundational traits, woven into your being, will help you move through life with much needed grace and ease.
This year with you has made me come to appreciate all that we have. Refugees, homeless, shelter animals, they all bring me to tears. I feel the suffering of others on a whole different level. I’m so acutely aware now that everyone is someone’s baby, everyone was once held, fed, kissed by someone and if they weren’t, I also understand why that pain lingers. The depth of my love for you is limitless.
How amazing that you, little girl, also found a way to make me love your daddy even more then the day I married him. How amazing it is to see the father and man he has become. How deep his love and protection for you is. I say it to you often but I once had the best dad in the whole world, and now you do. If you’re anything like me, and I know you are, you’ll butt heads with him and roll your eyes at his jokes but how lucky you are to have your dad in your corner. And know that he is stubborn and resilient, there’s no shaking his faith and love for you, of that I’m sure.
This year of motherhood has made me reevaluate so many things about myself. Who I am, what I believe, how I want to spend my time and what isn’t worth my energy. As much as I’d like to believe I’m helping form you into the woman that you will one day become, you are doing the same for me. You’ve made me question and reassess it all in the best possible way.
This year has taught me that time on my own is also of paramount importance. That those hours of sweating it out in a yoga class, writing in a coffee shop or running without the stroller fortifies me, brings me strength. I know that I can’t be the mom I want to be without a little time away. I’ve also learned that there is so much value in you spending time with others, learning from them, seeing new things, having experiences I can’t give you. You have so many people who love and care for you, that would drop everything to support you. What a lucky girl you are.
Every cliche is true. Parenthood changes you. Yes, your time is not your own and there is less sleep and more to do, but you have cracked open my heart and reshaped my life in the most impossibly wonderful way. Thank you my love.
Enjoy and Exhale!