I can hardly believe it’s been an entire year since you entered the world and we were transformed into a family of four. A whole year of transitions and changes. New routines, new challenges. A new family dynamic. A whole new little person to love. We watched from our sleep deprived haze as your personality emerged and flourished. Our sweet, playful, bold, adventurer, disarming us with smiles, all the while pushing the boundaries as far as they will possibly go. Joy by name, joyful by nature. What a blessing you are.
Yet from time to time, there looms a beast that threatens to strangle the joy of the last year. Mom guilt. Maybe it has visited you too, suffocating you with its presence. Casting its shadow over your thoughts and actions, causing you to question your decision making and capabilities. Things I could have done better, ways I could have given you more, maybe even loved you more. So today, on your first birthday, I want to take a minute to clear the air, to vanquish the monster of guilt once and for all and start this new year fresh and new.
I’m sorry little one for all the times you were placed haphazardly on the floor or returned to your bouncer when I knew in my heart you would really much rather be in my arms. For the feeds that were rushed or done on-the-go or even abandoned midway. Your sister needed me and her needs were usually more pressing, more desperate. You had to wait.
I’m sorry that your schedule always seemed to take second place, for the naps that were cut short or missed altogether. For spending too long in the car while we did errands and school drop off. You never complained but the stab of guilt was always there when I buckled you in yet another time. When I knew you needed to sleep or wanted to play. You had to be flexible, to fit in with an established routine instead of having your own.
I’m sorry that you sometimes had to cry a bit louder to be heard above the commotion. That I couldn’t always get to you right away as soon as you wanted me. That you often got poked and prodded and bounced just a little too enthusiastically. That your toys were snatched from you, or weren’t offered at all. You grew up learning how to share everything. Time, attention, toys, even personal space. Nothing was your own.
I’m sorry that mama was tired. Frustrated. Overwhelmed . That she was sometimes too quick to lose her temper. I’m sorry that we read to you less, played with you less. Left you to your own devices a lot more.
I’m sorry that your baby books are still in their wrappers, your milestone photos always late. Your photos are in the cloud instead of frames. Memories in my head instead of boxes.
Reading it back, I wonder if you feel hard done to. Neglected even. That if maybe you were the oldest one, life would have been fairer. Better. Yet sweet one, I promise you, your birth order does not dictate or alter how much you are loved. And being the littlest one has its fair share of blessings too…
I’m thankful you have a big sister. Someone who will love you and defend you fiercely. Who will become your teacher, your playmate, your confidante and closest friend. It may feel like she is always taking something from you in this chaotic season. Time, and attention, always shared. Yet I hope one day you will see her for the blessing that she is. One of the greatest gifts I could have given you.
I’m thankful that by the time you came along, your mama was already a mama. A little more seasoned, a little more sure. No longer as terrified or self doubting as she was before. With you she relied less on the ‘experts’ and more on her instincts. She worried less about milestones and how ‘things should be done’, and followed your lead a little more. Aware of how short and fleeting this season is, she treasured and appreciated the little moments as much as she could, snuggled you and nursed you to sleep for longer than your sister. She simply enjoyed you more. I want you to know that.
I’m thankful that without a nervous new mom hovering around your every move, you had the opportunity to be you a little more freely. To explore and test your limits. To jump on a trampoline that’s too big for you, climb a step that’s too high. To be swung slightly too fast or bounced roughly down a slide. To be constantly surrounded by language and learning. Stories and songs. Laughter and love.
I’m sure looking back over this year, there are things I could have done differently. There’s always room for improvement. Yet I hope in spite of it all, you know this mama is doing her very best for you. That you are loved beyond measure. That you bring joy you bring to us each and every day.
Happy birthday sweet girl. For you, I will never ever apologize. For you, I will only ever be thankful.
Love mummy x