My sweet Emmy, we can hardly believe it has been 365 days since you came into our lives. 365 days that have felt so long and so short all at the same time. We celebrated you surrounded by friends and family, with a big cake and a bubble machine, and you in a watermelon romper dress. On the day of your actual birthday, your dad left work early so we could spend the evening together. We walked to a nearby Mexican restaurant and you ate a quesadilla while your dad and I toasted each other with wine and an old fashioned. The entire time we reminisced on what we were doing exactly a year ago: “It’s 4:17, Emmy was just born!” “Remember that clear plastic bassinet they put Emmy in?” “Did we really try to squeeze into the twin size bed together at the hospital?” It all feels like just yesterday and a lifetime ago.
We have been seeing your personality blossom lately. You love to laugh and smile and to be part of conversations. You are curious and brave, wandering across a room from me and then crawling back to share with me what you found. When your cousin Max was here to celebrate your birthday, you made clear it didn’t matter that he is 6 years older than you, climbing all over him and grinning from ear to ear. You know what you like and what you don’t like – throwing asparagus, bell peppers and string beans off the side of your high chair with a look at me that says, “You should know better by now.” You love to honk the horn on your red push car and point at the road ahead while we explore the neighborhood with Riley walking by your side.
Will we ever get tired of being amazed by you? Will we ever stop being surprised that actually yes, we can love you even more today than we did the day before?
We’ve only known you a year, but we already know exactly who you are: our sweet daughter, cherished beyond words for all of your perfection as well as your flaws. Your entire life lays ahead of you, filled with possibility, with hope. Wherever you go, whatever you do, my wish for you on your first birthday is that you will always carry with you the knowledge that you are loved, you are loved, you are loved.
Maybe by now you know how much I hope to give you a love of reading. Your agong did the same for your Auntie Witty and me from a young age, taking us to the bookstore more often than the toy store throughout our childhood. From fantasy to sci-fi, to Sweet Valley High or down the yellow brick road, between your Auntie Witty and I, we read (and continue to read) them all. Reading was never an experience I anticipated could change after becoming a mother. It didn’t occur to me that becoming your mother could make reading somehow more immersive, more emotional.
I find that things I read echo in my head a lot longer now. Recently, I finished a book by Celeste Ng, “Little Fires Everywhere” and this quote has stuck with me:
“To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all at the same time. You could see it every time you looked at her: layered in her face was the baby she’d been and the child she’d become and the adult she would grow up to be, and you saw them all simultaneously, like a 3-D image. It made your head spin. It was a place you could take refuge, if you know how to get in. And each time you left it, each time your child passed out of your sight, you feared you might never be able to return to that place again.”
Probably none of this makes sense to you now, but maybe someday it will.
Happy first birthday dear one.