Today is your birthday. You've been here with us for 365 days and nights. You were born at 2:52 p.m., so technically, at this time, you were still hanging out in my warm, inviting uterus saying "Ain't no WAY I'm going out there."
There were times in the beginning when I thought that I might not make it. I spent many nights standing over your crib, back aching, praying to God that you might sleep so I might sleep. I just don't think that many women realize what it's like to only be able to sleep for two hours at a time for several weeks straight. I sure didn't. I think I may have held you too much when you were tiny. Sometimes when I'd finally get you to sleep, I would just hold you and rock you and stare at your tiny face; before I knew it, nap time had passed and you were awake again, without my ever having put you down in your crib. There were days when your daddy would come home from work and I wouldn't have peed all day, because I'd just been holding you and talking to you and feeding you and singing to you, and the moment he'd come through the door I'd say, "TAKE HIM BEFORE I WET MYSELF." My point is that I never wanted to take my eyes off of you.
I stayed home with you for eight weeks after you were born. The first day that I went back to work at the library was one of the hardest days I've ever faced. I cried the whole way there, because I felt like leaving you was the most awful thing I could possibly do. I felt like you deserved better; you deserved a mom who could find a way to stay with you and be with you and talk and sing and laugh all day long. I still sometimes feel like my heart is being squeezed and crushed when I think about the fact that I spend so many hours every day away from you. To miss even a single giggle, or a single word, or a single bumped noggin makes me feel like a failure, and I'm sorry for that.
I'm sorry that I'm so far from perfect, that I don't smile all the time, that I can't be happy every single moment we're together. I'm working on that, and I hope that I'll have it fixed by your next birthday. I want you to know a happy childhood, to remember these times in fuzzy snapshots of daddy and me hugging, and laughing, and kissing you over and over again. Having you has also made me much closer to your brothers, and that's something that I'll never be able to thank you enough for.
You have just over the past few weeks started saying "mama" sincerely and often. It makes me feel like the most important, and the most humble, person in the whole wide world every time you say it. I hope that you'll always call me mama. You've also started "asking" me to pick you up; you'll stand next to my legs and lift your arms up and look up at me like you're thinking, "Lift, please." I can't really explain how tiny, how vulnerable you feel in my arms, how fiercely I want to protect you and make you smile. It is a feeling so intense that there are moments when I feel like I have to decompress, take a break and breathe for a minute, because your safety consumes me so completely.
Right now you like to watch Teletubbies and Dawson's Creek. I think a little television is okay, but I don't try to push it on you because I want you to grow up knowing how to use your brain, to be creative and play without having someone else make up all the stories for you. You really love Teletubbies, and your favorite parts involve the actual teletubbies, not the parts with the videos of other children. You mainly just like the intro to Dawson's Creek; with the very first beat of the song you will stop WHATEVER you're doing and listen and smile. This CRACKS ME UP because your aunt Lindsey has been telling me for so long that you are a Gilmore Girls fan and I've never understood it, and now I know that your true love is the Creek. THIS I can understand, because we all need a little high school drama from time to time, a few scenarios in which things happen that would never happen in real life to people who are much too pretty and perfect to be real people and who use run-on sentences filled with words that I don't even know the meaning of.
You started walking around ten months, and you haven't stopped since. You work up such a momentum that I'm always afraid you're going to run into things and hurt yourself. We put foam covers over the corners of the coffee table to protect your huge melon, and your aunt Kristi has tested them thorougly and finds them to be totally acceptable.
When you were born, you were on the large side of average, but since then you've grown so quickly that you've almost been off the growth charts at every doctor visit. Your height, weight, and head circumference have stayed at least in the ninetieth percentile, most times higher, since your first doctor visit at two weeks. At your ten-month visit, Dr. Walley told us that you were the average size of a fifteen month old baby. Daddy and I often joke, when we see other little roly poly babies, that you could totally take any other baby in a cage match. I bet you could.
You exhibit so much of both your daddy and me that it's astonishing. Most recently, you've shown us how much of our own attitudes you've inherited. I can finally see what it must be like for daddy to deal with my smart ass when I deal with your smart ass. Anyone who ever thought that someone who can't form sentences can't be a smart ass is wrong, buddy, because when you hit me in the face with the ball end of your bulb syringe when I'm trying to get you to give me kiss, I GET IT. And I love you even more for it, because I'm so excited about raising someone and spending the rest of my life with someone who is witty and independent.
Over the last couple of months we've really started to let you eat grown-up food, and Reed, you really are your mother's son- you have a real affinity for Mexican food. You eat pinto beans as fast as I can give them to you, and you also really like the beef and bean mixture that we make for nachos. We also discovered, just a couple of weeks ago, that you take after your daddy in your love for olives, because let me tell you, you did not get that from me. But I love you even with your olive breath. I will always love you, baby, no matter what you eat, what kind of music you like, what you like to read, or who you want to be with. My only request is that you never, NEVER, become a republican.
I hope that daddy and I can help you to grow into a smart, kind, compassionate man, and I warn you that any girl you bring home will have to go through a rigorous acceptance process that is only for your own good. While big boobs might get her under daddy's radar, I am going to require a brain akin to my own and the same hatred for yo-boys that I possess. Yes, that's my other request- that you never become a yo-boy.
Reed, I just really want you to know how much you've changed my life and how grateful I am, for that change and for you. You are so beautiful, and so perfect, and so important to me, and I try to show you every day. I think you saved me in a lot of ways that no one else could have, and I will repay you for the rest of my life in hugs and kisses and snuggles. I hope that what I can give you is enough to make your life full and warm and safe and happy, because that is what I want for you every minute of every day. I will never know love with anyone else the way that I know it with you. I can't wait for the beginning of every day, for that moment that you wake up and start telling me how your night was. The way your little head feels against my cheek makes me thank God that I am alive, and that I made it to this place in my life.
I love you,