This post originally appeared on our old blog, Born to be a Bride.
Before you go getting all excited, let me start with: No, I am not pregnant. But as we close in on the six-week mark to Willow’s first birthday, I am filled with so many thoughts. So many emotions. Often, I’ll get a little sappy or sentimental as I sit around playing with my girl. She’s trying so hard to walk on her own and I know it’s coming any day. She has a deep belly laugh and she’s starting to say “Kitty” and “Doggy.” She pays attention when I read stories and she’s figured out how to “hide” from me in a game of peek-a-boo.
Unless you’re a mom, this all probably sounds quite boring, but I promise once you have a child these are the things that will make your heart swell. As Willow continues to develop into her own person with her own complex likes, dislikes, patterns, and proclivities, we move farther and farther from those sweet newborn days, when she would lie peacefully on my chest while the world buzzed on outside. Josh tries to make it better by reminding me that we are planning to have another (if I get my way, two more…), but my throat catches just a bit when I think about her growing because I know that I’ll never again have my first.
The next time I have a newborn in my arms, there will be another child sharing the center of my heart. I’ll never again have my first night home as a mom and certainly this is the first of a long line of birthday parties we’ll plan. The anniversary of Willow’s birth looms large because it’s a grand old reminder that time has passed. That I no longer have that newborn in my arms, and rather, an almost-toddler in her place.
If Willow could understand me, I would tell her that I appreciate her so much. I couldn’t have learned any better on anyone else. I needed her temperament and her smile. Needed her big, questioning eyes. I needed her to be my first because she was the one who had to turn me into a mom. She had a big job to do it and she did it brilliantly. We’ve done almost a full year of holidays (Halloween will be the last-first) and then after her party, the year begins again on November 22. We’ll march onward into the future with not a baby, but a little girl, beside us.
So I would tell her, Thank you.
Thank you, Willow, for showing me how to love someone unconditionally, even when you are screaming at me. Thank you for stroking my back when I hold you on my hip — it gets me every time. Thank you for laughing when there is a lull in adult conversation, it fills the gap just perfectly. Thank you for letting me dress you up in an array of ridiculous outfits and take countless photographs. Thanks also for tolerating the bows. That makes me really happy, it’s true. Whenever you decide to make me stop, I’ll understand.
Thank you for forgiving me when I am tired and not up for bounding around the room with you. And for not caring that I have a terrible singing voice. Thank you for each individual night that you’ve slept straight through (I forgive you for the others). Thank you for teaching this selfish person what it means to not care one lick about myself — I needed that. Now that you’re nearing a year, you also let me do some things for me. So, thanks for that, too. Thank you for loving me even though half of the time I look at you and don’t believe for a minute that I deserve you. Thank you for everything, Wills… honestly these past 10.5 months have been incredible.
I needed you to show me, I needed you to grow on. I needed your soft spirit and your fiery side, as well. So, thank you for every memory we’ve made together already and most of all, thank you for being my first.