As I packed up to leave work yesterday, I noticed a picture of you on my cubicle wall. It was taken last October, right around the time you started smiling. You’re wearing pajamas and lying on a blanket, and you have very little hair. Seeing that photo stopped me in my tracks. I was momentarily flooded with memories from your infancy, and even though I’ve been thinking about your birthday for weeks, it didn’t entirely hit home until that moment that it is here. You are 1. A whole year old!
If I had to describe your personality in one word, it would be “happy.” Your smile is contagious and easy to elicit. Someone recently joked on a Facebook post that perhaps your frown muscles just don’t work! I assured her that they do, and that I have witnessed them many times, but that doesn’t change the fact that your overall demeanor is unfailingly bright.
I spent the last days of August 2015 so anxious for your arrival. When the day finally came, you were born quickly, raring to go, and haven’t stopped since. You’re into absolutely anything and everything, which has been somewhat of a challenge in our new house where we’re still figuring out what is and isn’t kid-friendly. And while I think you’re probably still several weeks away from walking, your crawl has increased to warp speed — especially at the end of the day at school when we arrive to pick you up. Seeing you notice me and head in my direction at breakneck speed never gets old.
You pull up on everything and have started to let go on a pretty regular basis. You stand there — both arms in the air, mouth wide open in a smile showing just how pleased you are with yourself — until you finally lose your balance and plop onto the floor. You “talk” more and more, and within the last few weeks you learned how to point. Last night you sat at the dinner table and repeating aimed your index finger towards the ceiling as if to say “I’m number 1!” or perhaps “I’m 1 year old!”
You managed to escape the stomach bug that brought down your big sister last weekend, and overall it’s been a pretty healthy first year. You’re eating more and more, and tend to gobble down whatever I put in front of you without judgment. In the last couple weeks you’ve started dancing like a crazy person to the music, whipping your arms from side to side — and you laugh even harder when I join in with some arm flails of my own. And in calmer moments, you’ve started to display a keen interest in books, and love to study the pictures and help me turn the pages as we read before bed.
But walking, talking, eating? That’s all the practical stuff — skills and likes and dislikes. And as you finish your very first year, I find myself thinking a lot more about who you are, who you might become, and all the joy you have brought to our family. In many ways, this year has flown past and I’m surprised to find myself staring at September 2 again. But I’m simultaneously in disbelief that it is ONLY your first birthday, because it feels like you have been here all along.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that they decided to have their second/third/etc child because it felt like someone was missing. I never subscribed to that type of thinking — too nebulous! too emotional! too illogical! And though I still don’t think anything was missing before, I can undoubtedly say that this family feels full in the best possible way, and in a way I couldn’t imagine before. This first year with you has had ups and downs and smiles and tears, but at the end of the day we laugh harder and smile more. Life is richer now that you are in it, Charlotte.
Happy Birthday, my baby girl!