Dear Baby P,
Today you are one year old! Meaning you’re not really much of a baby anymore, huh?
Last year on this date, I woke up grumpy because it was my due date and I hadn’t even come close to regular labor contractions. I knew first time mothers had long labors and first babies were often overdue, but dang it, Team P prides itself on promptness and I was not very happy about it.
Then my water broke and you showed up six hours later. Shows what I know!
I’ve admitted this before, but I’ll confess again today: I’ve never really been a baby person. Because of that, I haven’t spent a of time around babies, so I had little frame of reference. Perhaps that’s why I thought babies were unformed blobs upon which I had to very tediously imprint skills and personality and what it means to be a person. So when you were born, I figured we’d have a few years of that annoying business before we could finally get to the good stuff.
And I won’t lie, those first few months were hard, though not for those reasons I expected. You weren’t thrilled with your lot in life, like most newborns, but I was surprised and devastated to learn that google doesn’t have all the answers to help me teach you all those things I thought I was supposed to be teaching you. You had trouble staying asleep, you couldn’t keep your lunch (or second lunch, or third lunch) in your tummy, you lacked the motor control to get that toy you wanted SO HARD. Sure, you were generally sweet and cute, but I couldn’t solve all your problems, and that was frustrating for us both.
It was when you were about 8 weeks old, after weeks of google searches in the wee hours of the night, that I suddenly realized the best solution to your problems was simply to let you grow. There was no routine, no special foods, nothing that I actually needed to do. It sounds silly, but once I had that realization, I could stop fretting, sit back, and enjoy our time together. In a week or so, whatever had been making you unhappy wasn’t a problem anymore.
From this I took three lessons: first, you are pretty good at solving your own problems, if I could just leave you be and try not to solve them for you. Second, the frantic googling wasn’t actually helping you but it WAS making me crazy, so I could stop that and we’d be happier all around. And third? Growing up is a pretty amazing process.
Let me be clear. You have always been an incredibly good baby, from pregnancy to now. I don’t have a lot of experience with babies, but I’ve been assured that you are far above-average when it comes to eating, sleeping, and being chill. So the fact that you have actually managed to get better at those things as you’ve grown is even more stunning. And the most unbelievable part is that I didn’t do anything to help you grow. All I’ve had to do is sit back and watch. It’s all you.
From that very first day when you arrived spectacularly on time, you’ve shown me that all I should do is trust that you will grow into the person you need to be. I won’t have all the answers, but I don’t need them. You are a keen observer and, over the entire past year, you’ve been more than willing to figure out how to move, how to communicate, and how to make things happen for you. You just need a little time. And frankly, that is the easiest thing I know how to give you.
Being a mom is humbling in many ways. It’s humbling to feel so defeated by a newborn, to stop caring if you go out in public with vomit on your shoulders, to have a mind so muddled that you cannot function like you once did. But it’s mostly humbling to realize how much I’d underestimated you. There is no waiting around for the good stuff, this is it.
And now, I marvel at the little boy you’ve become. You aren’t afraid of new situations, but approach them cautiously, studiously observing and assessing the situation. You’ve figured out that signing is more effective than crying for telling us what you want, and you wave at any stranger who waves first. You love to dance, whether the music comes from a toy, the jazz quartet on the corner, or my own vocal rendition of the Sesame Street theme song. You are fascinated by tooth-brushing and know how to open the medicine cabinet to get your own little rubber toothbrush to brush your four teeth. You’re not so sure about standing unassisted, but goodness knows you’ll climb anything you can. And, my personal favorite: you give big, open-mouthed kisses while kicking your legs in glee.
From the day you were born and every day since, you have taught me that there is very little I need to teach you. You are the one with the inborn personality and skills to take you far. And every day that you need me a little less is a day that I am even prouder of you.
I love you, Little P.