A letter to my daughter on her first birthday
A few weeks ago, I held your 5-week-old cousin James in my arms while I watched you run around, swinging a plastic piggy bank over your head. And I thought to myself – is it possible that this energetic almost-toddler was ever as small, floppy and vulnerable as James?
But of course, you were.
Those early days went by in a bit of a blur. I don’t remember much, but here’s what I do remember:
Your father and I passing you back and forth all night, taking turns holding you so the other one could get some sleep.
Wishing I could tear off my boobs because they were so full and achy and leaky.
Obsessing over the colour and frequency of your poos. (I needn’t have worried – you’ve become quite the master pooper.)
Feeling overwhelmed. Feeling more tired than I’d ever felt in my entire life. Feeling a love that was so all-consuming that I would sing you cheesy Elton John songs at 3am and bawl like…well, a baby.
You have grown up so much since then. We both have.
I’ve been so proud of every new thing that you’ve learned. When you first smiled at four weeks, I thought it was the best smile I’d ever seen. When you rolled over at 12 weeks, I shouted and applauded so loudly that I basically shared the sh*t out of you. When you learned how to feed yourself at six months, I bragged to everyone about how much you loved strong flavours like curry and baba ganoush. When you skipped crawling entirely and went straight to walking at nine months, I couldn’t believe how determined you were.
I can barely keep up with you now. People don’t believe that you never sit down, but it’s true. Unless you’re strapped into your high chair, stroller or car seat, you’re on your feet. Running. Pointing. Picking things up. You’d rather squat over a toy for 20 minutes than put your bum on the floor. Your legs are strong as hell. Your energy is incredible.
There have been many times in the past year when I’ve felt like a failure as a mother. When you stayed on the 2nd percentile for weight, despite my best efforts to fatten you up. When I resorted to turning on the TV to get you to stop screaming. When I forgot to brush your tiny baby teeth. When I opened up a packet of Ella’s Kitchen instead of making you a home-cooked meal.
But now I look at the amazing little person you’re becoming – smart, funny, inquisitive, a bit on the cheeky side – and I can’t help but think that I must have done something right.
Happy birthday, beba.