Almost as en vogue as Baby Legs and Bumbos are birthday letters. I think the last time I sat down and poured out my soul for a boy I love is when I wrote my wedding vows for your Father. That churning in my soul—a bubbling mixture of a million thoughts and emotions with a dash of inarticulateness renders me slightly incapacitated—to translate a whole year into a single letter is impossible. And yet, I am comforted by the fact that my message is not lost on you. You may not be able to read or understand my words today at 1, but you have spent the past year receiving my messages of unconditional love:
- You have listened to me with those big blue eyes in the middle of the night as we stare at each other, you stroking your hair (or sometimes picking my nose).
- You have heard me as I massage my love for you on your legs and back each morning as I attempt to stroke you back to sleep for an hour.
- You have felt my heart keep rhythm on your bones during the hours of kangaroo care we shared.
- You follow me through the windows with a toothy smile each day as I walk around the car to get you out and go home for the night, telling me in squeals “Hurry up silly mom--I cannot wait the 10 seconds until you unlatch me!”
- You shriek in delight and body-slam me when I lie on the floor and beckon you to come for “hugs.”
Nose to nose. Foot to chest. Moments I’ll never forget. Watching you devour nature through our front picture window—your gaze only interrupted when Dad comes down the walk. Your excitement fills the room…and my heart. Splashing in the bath, throwing your “I am naughty” glance up at us, or trying to catch the water as it streams down from your bath cup. Laughing while you nurse for no reason (or when I say, “no biting!”)—the corners of your mouth curled up in a smirk when your tongue sticks out is almost too much to handle. Sunday night Suess bedtime routines and spending weekday lunches with you and your friends at the ELC. Silly songs, reducing your parents to chortles and nonsense…reminding us of our own inner child.
This year has had its challenges, and although you will not be able to reflect back and remember your strength, I hope someday you’ll read these words and know how resilient and strong you were during the first 12 months of life. Six and a half weeks early, and cast as a wimpy white boy, you proved everyone wrong and breathed on your own, unassisted. You scoffed at estimations of your arrival home on your due date and decided it was time to come home after a mere 2 weeks. Moving, weddings, trips, Tuesday night trivia, power outages, tornado warnings, Dad’s track season, 11 hour car rides while teething, a trip to urgent care for a scratched eye…
And then you endured me having to go back to work after 6 weeks because I didn’t quite qualify for the family and medical leave act. I just wanted to say I am sorry for that, Miles. I try not to live with regret, but there it is—the one thing I know I let you down with. My little baby needed me. And you know what? I needed you. I still need you.
Monthly synagis shots to ward off RSV and weekly PT appointments for your Kooky foot have not been easy, but we have endured. I joke (and complain) about your not sleeping well and the perils of pumping, but I would do it all over again for an eternity if you asked.
“He looks tired.” “Did he just wake up from a nap?” We hear it every day. What no one understands is that those eyes, pools of limitless piercing potential, are constantly engaged in the world. Receiving. Processing. Loving. (And perhaps there is a more physiological element—the weight of those lashes would make anyone struggle to keep their eyes open.) Miles I love your tired eyes, and know they don’t reflect a tiredness of life, but a spirit I have yet to see matched.
No matter how quirky or how temperamental you are I will always see the divine potential in you. And I’ll continue nurture your interests (as long as they aren’t extreme cage fighting or base jumping.) And sometimes cry over and about you. I’m not perfect, and I’ve made mistakes and misjudgments. And I promise I’ll continue to reveal my imperfections with age—and so you will. And that is what makes us even more loveable. Real. Forgiving. Forgivable.
You have exposed my vulnerabilities, rattled me into an anxious mess, but then brought me to a place of such indescribable bliss and peace that I almost wonder how it is that a 1 year old has that much command over my emotions.
I’ll never stop worrying about you, but I promise to let you etch out your own independence so you can learn life’s tough lessons—for now, it is merely allowing you the space to fall as you begin to walk. In time, I am sure the stakes will be higher, but my hands and heart are always outstretched, waiting to lend a hand you when you fall down, or cradle your heart when it is broken.
I’ll never stop hugging you, even when you push me away and say “oh mom!” And I’ll never EVER forget to tell you I love you when we get off of the phone. (A promise I made your Dad after we first told each other we loved one another.) I’ve endured my 1 regret this past year. And that’s enough for your lifetime. At least I’ll try to keep it that way.
All I ask of you in return is to demand honesty from me. And pull me away from work and the seriousness of life’s responsibilities to play as much as possible.
I told your Dad almost 3 years ago on July 22 that our hearts are living museums, and that in each of its galleries, no matter how narrow or dimly lit, are preserved forever moments of love and being loved. I admit that before you were born I wondered how it would be possible to manage the vastness of the love of a child. I thought I had doled out all of my love over 28 years—especially to your father. May 16, 2008. It happened. The most surprising thing about bringing a child into the world—bringing YOU into the world Miles is that spaces unknown and unexplored reveal themselves every single day, waiting to be filled with something, by someone.
My dear Little Linus. I love you. And I love that each day those spaces are filled with new memories of the family I have always dreamed of.
In a few months, Eric and I will be putting together a photo album of the past year. I thought I would post just a few random picture highlights. I am truly amazed, humbled, blessed...