One year ago today, I saw the love of my life for the first time. You were smaller and skinnier than I expected, but you were born with your eyes wide open. You were not red and screaming like most babies I have seen. There was one pitiful little cry from you when you first came out, but the baby they placed on my belly was wide-eyed and alert. And quiet. Even brand new, you were busy investigating your new world. You hardly cried at all that first night. I think we were both exhausted. Being born/giving birth is hard work.
Since then, I have had the privilege of getting to watch you explore the world around you. Sometimes, it is frustrating, like when you turn my computer off, especially when I am writing. Sometimes, it is hilarious, like watching you on your daily scavenger hunt around the house. The other day, you brought a Guadalupe prayer candle and a spaghetti fork to me. Before that it was a romance novel and a can of baking powder. Today is was bingo dobbers and a measuring cup. I still have no idea how you find them. And yet other days, it is amazing to watch you discover the world around you, like watching you touch grass for the first time and seeing your initial cautiousness melt away to joy at what you had found. And you wasted no time in plucking a handful to come show me.
At one year old, you love bubbles and sweet potatoes and baths and yogurt and a stuffed monkey you named Babe. You love your dad and you love pushing buttons, both literal and figurative. You sleep between us at night, with your little fingers firmly entrenched in your mouth and your head resting on my arm. You usually wake me up by touching my face, my arm, my hair. Little fingers always exploring, exploring. Sometimes, you stop in the middle of playing and just stare at your hands, as if you are awed by what they can do now.
You babble constantly and say Mama, Dada, Nana, and Babe. You have long conversations with the stuffed monkey, me, your stuffed sheep, the cars outside the window, your hands, and sippy cups. You love looking outside and will stand at the window for long periods of time, just observing the world. We call you our little professor, because you study everything you come across and have an almost methodical approach to that study.
But that is where you studious nature ends. You, my child, were born with a incredible temper. Watching you in the middle of a tantrum never fails to make me laugh, though I imagine that this will be less amusing as you get older. You are strong willed and I often spend my time trying to out-stubborn you. You now know the meaning of the word “no” and have come to realize how much you hate that word. You have a huge personality for such a tiny thing and it never fails to surprise me and most everyone else.
Getting to be your mother, getting to hold you and kiss you and love you has been one of the defining moments of my life. You will never know how many wounds you have healed just by being here. When I look into your eyes, I no longer feel inadequate or unlovable. I know our relationship will not always be this easy, but I cherish how uncomplicated and joyous it is now.
Happy Birthday, my Aly Kitten.