You are one.
HOLY CRAP! I don't even know what to say to you!
You have totally transformed over the past year from a tiny, helpless, cuddly, dark-haired little infant into a tow-headed, crawling, cruising, pointing, hollering, cackling, adorable little guy with absolutely no instinct for self-preservation. It is unbelievable that you are the same child we met a year ago today. It seems like there have been about 6 versions of you in the past year. And I love them all! All of your selves, you bizarre little changeling, you.
I loved you teeny and tiny and helpless. I loved you all bobble-headed, learning to look around and roll over. I loved you trying to sit up, flopping over in all directions. And, I love you right now! Big and talkative and freakishly fast. Pulling up on tables and my legs and the dog, reaching everything with your go-go gadget arms. Using your baby radar to identify the most dangerous or mess-producing thing in the room and then zooming over to it.
I love you just waking up, all hot and snuggly and smelling like baby sleep.
I love you in the bath, pulling up on the sides of the tub, crawling from one end of the tub to the other, dunking your head under the water, on a mission to drown yourself before my very eyes.
I love you banging on your high chair, screeching for MORE MORE, whatever that is in your hands, give it to me NOW, WOMAN!
I love you exploring the house, crawling down the hallway, pushing on every shut door, just flat-out looking for something new to get into.
I love you giggling over a new discovery or a favorite toy. Cracking up at yourself because you have cornered Sweet Potato or Mrs. Pattie and are petting them within an inch of their lives. You have the best laugh ever, and you are totally your father's son, because the only thing you like better than laughing is making ME laugh AT you.
I love you babbling! You don't say any words yet, but you love to talk to us and imitate sounds like dada, baba, and these little tongue-clicking noises. (You refuse to say mama, which is so cruel and spiteful of you. Stop it right now.) You wave byebye and give us kisses and stick your tongue out on command. (Bet we'll regret teaching you that one...) Recently you have started pointing at everything to find out what it is, and then pointing and hollering if it is something you want to hold. Oh, did I say hold? Excuse me. I meant consume and destroy.
I love you making faces, too! You are so expressive these days. My personal favorite is this distinctly impish grin you get whenever you get ahold of something you know isn't for you. I'll be honest with you- it's a little scary. How do you know I don't want you have it when you've never even seen it before?!?!
In case you can't tell from the previous paragraphs, I... um... well, I love you! And, I would love to be able to tell you how much I love you in this birthday letter. Get it down on paper, record it for the future, to remember what it was like to love this version of you, to recall it for you someday, to remind myself. But, I think it is impossible. How could I explain it? How could I ever make you understand?
I could try, though.
I could tell you how I love spending my days with you. How I get excited when I hear you babbling to yourself in your crib after a nap (unless I'm still watching the Real Housewives, then I really need you to play in your crib just a liiiil' bit longer.)
I could tell you how I let you do annoying things like pull every tissue out of the box, toss every book off the bottom shelf, or tear up all the junk mail, just because you are so freaking cute doing it!
Maybe I could tell you again what it felt like to hold you that first time, to feel your tiny baby body in my arms, to feel the whole world just float up above us, to feel my entire life refocusing.
I could tell you that I'm afraid to have any more children, because, how could I possible love this way twice?
Maybe I could tell you that I'm also afraid I will NEVER be able to say NO to you if you really want something! How could I ever break that sweet little baby heart?!?! (I will work on this, I promise.)
I could tell you that you have completely changed me. The way I think about life. The way I set priorities. The way I make decisions. The way I consider the future. The way I pray. That you have made me see the beauty of living selflessly. The hidden pleasures of sacrifice.
Or, maybe, I just shouldn't even try to explain to you how much I love you.
Maybe I should just accept that this is a dual blessing and curse of motherhood, to love in such a way that swallows up any words I might use to describe it.
Maybe I should just settle for saying something simple. How about this...
I love you. You are the most precious thing I have ever been given. Now, seriously, stop eating things you find on the floor. No good can come of it.
P.S. And Happy Birthday! Cake is so good. Just wait and see.