(Note: I started writing this on your birthday, but it took me a while to finish. Sorry it wasn’t published on your actual birthday!)
My Dear Ryan,
Today you turn 1 year old. I sit here typing, as you are taking a nap and I find it difficult to imagine that a year ago at this time you were only a few hours old and Daddy and I were just getting to know you. There are so many things I have to tell you about this past year and about what I want for you in life. I'm going to begin by sharing a letter I wrote to you before you were even born.
January 3, 2010
My Dearest Baby,
You are officially 4 days late today. You were due on December 30, 2009. The excitement and anticipation that Daddy and I have for your arrival is nearly unbearable. We have spent the past 9 months preparing every possible detail of our lives to welcome you. We are ready and waiting and excited to welcome you with more love, joy, hope, hugs, kisses, and snuggles than perhaps any child has ever been welcomed before.
Daddy and I have been married for 4 and a half years, and in those years (and the 5 years we dated before that) we have built a very special relationship. It is a relationship built on trust, immense love, respect, devotion, and teamwork. It is a relationship of which we are very proud. Daddy and I are so very much in love. About a year and a half ago we decided that our relationship was so rich and so strong, that it was ready to welcome a child. You are the result! We cannot wait to welcome you into our lives. We have so much love to give… So much to share with you…So much to teach you… So much we can’t wait to do with you. We may be biased, but we clearly think you are a lucky baby as you are about to be born into a very special family.
When you’re born, Daddy and I can’t wait to snuggle you and hold you close. We have spent 9 months feeling your every move, reading to you at night (Daddy did it almost every single night!), feeling the pointy bumps of your hands, feet, knees, and elbows, and laughing at your frequent hiccups. We have connected by touch, but not in the way we long for. We want to smell your sweet baby smell, and let you wrap your little hand around our finger, and hold you close so you fall asleep on our chests (just like I do on Daddy’s chest sometimes). We want to rock you, and comfort you, and care for you. We want to give you a place where you always feel safe and protected.
We want to teach you all that life has to offer. You will learn much about life as you grow up. Some you will learn from us, but you will also learn in school, from life experiences, from friends, and from other family members. The lessons that Daddy and I most want to impart to you are the basics: love, confidence, kindness, and compassion.
Love: Daddy and I will always love you. NO MATTER WHAT! In your life you will stumble and fall. You will make mistakes, and you will have regrets. No matter how bad the fall, how big the mistake, or how intense the regret, we will always be there to support you, to love you, and to help you get back up on your feet, to overcome, to excel. Nothing you will ever do will ever lessen our love for you. The love we have for you is already so intense and great, and you’re not even born yet! We know our love will only grow deeper and more intense with every day we share with you. We can’t wait to feel this level of love and to share it with you.
Confidence: We want you to always believe in yourself. We don’t fully know you yet, but we know where you come from. We know that you will always have love and support and people to back you up (not just us, but Nana, Pop-pop, Uncle Mark, Auntie Catharine, Uncle John, Aunt Cindy, and many other people who love you). And with those things and those people you never have to doubt yourself. We hope to instill in you many strong values and we want you to believe strongly in and defend these values throughout your life. We want you to feel like you can stand up to people who ridicule you or others. We want you to know that it is ok to say what you believe, even if the majority of people don’t agree with you. We are confident that you will grow into an amazing, wonderful person, and we want you to be confident in the same thing.
Kindness & Compassion: Simply put, we want you to treat the people you encounter in life with kindness and compassion. We hope to teach you this by example. We hope that by watching us, you will learn what it means to go through life as a kind, compassionate, caring, thoughtful, and selfless person. There will certainly be times when Daddy and I may make mistakes; when we won’t show the best example. But in those times, we also hope to show you the power of forgiveness: asking for it and giving it.
There are many things we hope to share with you and teach you in your life. I can’t think of them all now! How does a Mommy put into one letter everything that she wants for her child? The things I hope for you are endless. However, if I can give you nothing but what is listed above then you will have the tools you need to go far in life.
We also have dreams of what we will do with you. Initially we just can’t wait to snuggle you and love you. To enjoy the everyday baby moments that come with a newborn. As you get older we look forward to helping you explore the world around you: going to museums, farms, carnivals, concerts, and much more. As you grow even more we may travel the world with you. We look forward to sharing with you our loves and passions: music, sports, animals, plays, food, culture, and much more. What endless possibilities await us and you!
Dearest Baby, the world is about to open up to you. It will be a privilege to be your Mommy. I cannot wait to watch you grow up and develop into an amazing person. It will be a wonderful journey and I cannot wait for it to begin! Hopefully we won’t be waiting too much longer.
With more love than you can ever imagine,
That letter still holds true today. I was right that the immense love I had for you then, before you were born, and before we even knew if you were a boy or a girl, cannot compare to the love I feel for you now. My mom, your Nana once told me, "I don't think we ever fully understand how intense love can be until we have children of our own." And she's right. I didn't know my heart could feel love in the way it does for you. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. I love you so very much Ryan and I am so proud to be your Mommy.
I have had a difficult time writing this post as there is so much I want to tell you and say and I am not quite sure how to organize it and get it all right.
But next, let me do what I have done in each of your previous "letters" and tell you about all the ways in which you have grown and changed in the past month.
You continue to grow and developing by leaps and bounds every day, though, seeing as you are soooo busy moving (running actually!) around, you actually have started to thin out a bit. You are no longer the chunky little guy that you were and you're now becoming long and lean like you daddy. You look more like a little boy and less like a baby. As I said, you're BUSY! You play with toys (you have lots of AWESOME new ones!) but continue to be far more interested in the dish washer, the microwave, the refrigerator, and the washer & dryer. This is a bit frustrating, as we can't play with appliances all day long, and this is what you would prefer to do. This results in much frustration and insistence on your part, but fortunately, you are usually easily redirected.
When you aren't playing with appliances you can be found looking at books (you LOVE books more and more now and will sit with a pile of them and flip through them yourself. "Freight Train" and "Dog" seem to be your favorites these days), playing with balls and trucks or puzzles, looking out the window and pointing out "Cah!!!" (cars) and "Cucks!" (trucks). You love to watch the garbage men (yes, you are your father's son). You also love to watch Sesame Street Music Videos on YouTube. Jason Mraz's and Will I Am's songs are your favorites. You're so hip ;) You can often be found dancing as well.
You seem to learn a new word every day and will try to say pretty much anything I ask you to. The words you use most often are Hi! Bye-Bye, cat, Hot! (You point to Dunkin Donut cups and say "HOT!" I guess I drink a lot of DD coffee!), Pop! (to any sound that sounds like a "pop" and when reading the Very Hungry Caterpillar), Sock (because you are always taking them off in the car and we are putting them back on), and the word I am most proud of you for using, which you just started doing is "Help!" This is something I have been working on with you. Instead of screeching when you need help with something I have been encouraging you to say, "Help!" and now you do it! In fact, the other day you said, "Help! Stuck!" when my purse strap was stuck around your foot. It sounded more like "Hep! Suck!" But I knew what you were saying! I was so proud of you! I find your language development fascinating and so much fun to watch.
While you’re ahead of the curve in a lot of areas, there is one area in which you leave much to be desired, and that’s sleep! You are 1 year old and you have yet to sleep through the night even once! Yes, you read that correctly. For one solid year, your mommy, who used to fall sleep within minutes of her head hitting the pillow and not wake again until her blaring alarm in the morning, has gotten up at least once EVERY SINGLE NIGHT for the last year. Can we make a deal that you’ll work on improving that? Okay? Thanks!
On a positive note, your personality continues to blossom. You are still a super-friendly, happy, and determined little boy who says hi to everyone you meet. You can be stubborn at times. You do really well with new and different environments and you are willing to try new things. This was most evident this past weekend your cousin Caitlin's 4th birthday party which was at "Rolly Pollies" a kids gymnastic center. You jumped right in (literally!) jumping, rolling, and running around. The new environment, tons of people, and loud music didn't faze you in the least. It was so much fun to watch.
For your 1st Birthday we had a small get together with close family here at our house. It was Elmo themed as you love Elmo (and Grover too, but they don't sell cake molds in the shape of Grover.) When you woke up from your nap you found the house decorated with Elmo (complete with a homemade Elmo cake that I made!) and you were so excited. Soon people started arriving and you really seemed to get that all this fuss was for you. You were all smiles. You loved looking at you Elmo Cake, but you could have cared less about eating it. I think you licked your finger once and otherwise just wanted me to wipe off the frosting from your hands. This was a little disappointing as we have none of the quintessential first birthday pictures with cake all over your face. Oh well! Other than that, the party was a blast. You were so glad you got to celebrate with so many of the people who love you so much. Even your Great Aunt Mo and cousin Kathleen came down from Massachusetts for the party!
That pretty much captures a lot of what has been going on with you lately. Although, like I said, you grow and change and learn new things every day, so it is difficult to describe you at any given moment.
To end this very long 1st Birthday Letter I want to tell you what it has been like to be your Mommy thus far.
As some of the posts in this blog will attest to, the earliest weeks of your life were challenging! They were filled with much love and joy, and yet it was really hard to adjust to caring for this tiny little person who needed everything. And while being a Mommy will always have its challenging moments, I want you to know that this past year has confirmed for me what I always knew: I was put on this earth to be a Mommy. Not only that, but I was put on this earth to be your mommy! I have never before felt so fulfilled in what I do. Being your Mommy is the best thing I have EVER done and I am so grateful for you every single day. You make my life more full of joy and laughter than it ever was before. You have allowed me to see a new and different side of your Daddy and this has made me fall in love with him more than I was before (which was a WHOOOLE LOT!!). You have deepened the wonderful relationships I already had with your Nana and Pop-Pop and Uncle John, Auntie Cindy, Uncle Mark, and Auntie Catharine. You have taught me to let loose and worry less (yes, I actually am proud to say that having you in my life makes me worry less…well, about everything except you!). This isn’t to say that being a mommy isn’t still difficult at times, but the joy and love far-out shine the frustrating, and challenging moments. Ryan, you have enriched my life in ways I can’t put into words. You have made me a better person. You have brought new meaning to the words love, family, selflessness, and devotion.
I love you Ryan…more than you will ever know! I am so proud of the little boy you already are and the boy you are becoming!
Happy 1st Birthday!
(I used to sign these letters from “Mommy.” But you call me Mama, so, that’s what we’re going with J)