It's hard to believe that today my baby turns one. There are many cliches that are relevant here; where does the time go?/it seems like only yesterday etc... Well it does seem like only yesterday, but with all the platitudes that were doled out to me this time a year ago, it is amazing how many unexpected gifts the first year of parenthood has offered. A couple of days ago a lovely friend (also a mother) asked me how I was feeling about Sophia turning one. What struck me first is that nobody else had asked me that question, and it was wonderful because it gave me real cause to ask myself the same question. Aside from, disbelief that this first year has already whizzed past, I feel all number of things.
I feel grateful; as I did when I found out we were expecting a baby, and when Sophia was born. Grateful for the gift of parenthood itself, grateful for a healthy, happy child and grateful for each new thing I discover about Sophia, and about the world through having her. I feel sad. Sad for the days that have passed and will never come back. I imagine all parents feel this; it seem totally natural somehow but also weird. In practice none of us would actually press the pause button permanently, this would only deprive us of finding out what was to come for our children, but as we edge ever so slowly (but not that slowly) towards the knowledge that they will not be ours forever, how can we not wish that they could be. I feel guilty. Guilty for the days I wish would go faster because Sophia is in an unexplained bad mood, or I'm just too tired for the creativity and energy that parenting takes. Guilty that I cannot prevent all and every difficulty Sophia does and will experience, and guilty for every wrong choice I will make, despite my best intentions. Mostly I feel excited, because in the last year I have discovered that having children, when all is said and done, is just plain exciting. The privilege of watching a soul grow into themselves and the world is thrilling. Knowing that every day is a new discovery for them and in turn for you, has brought a vitality to my life that I never expected.
One year old Sophia is a strong personality, who knows what she wants, and isn't easily discouraged. Her balance is impressive and paired with some seriously strong legs for a petit baby, she is on the cusp of walking unaided. She is chatty but also observant. She doles out laughs generously and has just learnt to wave, taking great pleasure in waving to our fish each morning. And her facial expression, oh my goodness, they are heartwarming; full of emotion and in many cases hilarious!
And as for me, I am changed by this first year of motherhood, both a totally different person and more myself than ever before. The most unexpected gift of all? The gift of presence (ironically something for which I'd been striving for years). I knew that a baby would require my almost constant attention (they literally have no concept of time or waiting) but no-one told me that in this attention, I would find a presence in the moment like never before. That because Sophia needed me to be in the moment, I finally could be too.
Happy Birthday Sophia. Thank you for all the gifts you bring to our lives. Thank you for choosing us.