I’ve been thinking a lot about balance over the last few weeks. Balance between my different selves, or the different parts that make up me as a person. Mother, wife, daughter, friend, sister, employee, woman (self). So many parts make up this whole, that most days, most parts aren’t even thought of, much less nurtured.
Happy Birthday little girl! You are a year old! Last year, round about this time, we were waking up from our first sleep â€“ you were nestled in the nook of my arm, where you slept comfortably for months. You had been in this world for less than four hours. My little miracle, my little baby. Brought in to this world in our kitchen, lifted out of water by my hands, held to my chest, nourished from my body. I am so proud of who you are.
At a year, you’re walking and running. You eat fabulously, and love salmon, tomatoes, cheese, capers and much to daddy’s chagrin, black olives. You mimic everything we do â€“ changing the channels on the tv, pouring water from the filter in to a glass, climbing stairs. You are trying so hard to talk â€“ you make all the right sounds, but haven’t quite figured how to put them in words yet.
You have six teeth in your mouth right now, four at the bottom and two at the top and we seem to have come through the other side of a particularly heinous spell of teething with these latest two additions to your mouth. You have grown into size four shoes, your dresses are rapidly becoming long shirts and you have a particular love for mobile phones, rings and remote controls â€“ as many as you can fit in your hand at one time.
You have have taken a sudden dislike to bathing, and don’t like being put in your sleeping bag anymore. You still deplore the car seat but distracting you with a few choice toys does help. Your favourite toys are two wooden picture books and a set of wooden bells and rattles.
God has been exceptionally good to us. He has provided for us, and given us blessings. We have travelled so much with you this year. By the time today is over you will technically have been in 13 countries â€“ although the stopover in Spain doesn’t really count, so just 12. That’s still pretty good for a 12 month old.
So how has this year been? Well, like nothing I could have imagined, really. Wait, let me tell you a story. When I was pregnant, I had a job I really loved doing. I loved being in charge of a project. I loved the responsibility, and I loved the challenge. When I went on maternity leave, I told my boss I’d be back when you were three months old and I could put you in the nursery. I was certain I’d be back at work and back to passionately working to help people. But when January came, I couldn’t do it. I suddenly realised there was no way I was willing to miss a day of your first year. It’s funny how much having you has changed me.
I didn’t know what I was missing in my life before you came along. I know that sounds like a clichÃ© and I cringe a little bit on the inside saying it, but it is true. I remember crying one day because I so badly wanted a baby. Actually, I cried a few times, but I remember one day the most. I didn’t even know I was pregnant until almost a week later.
It’s not like there was a big hole in my life before you were there, but there must have been, and I just didn’t know it. But now… now the thought of you not being in it… well, it’s not possible. You’ll always be in it. There’s a Ameli shaped corner of my heart now.
In that corner I know love different to any love I’ve known before. And pain different to anything tears have caused me before. And fear â€“ terrible, horrible, debilitating fear â€“ of thumps, bangs, things crashing, of driving too fast, of not looking both ways before crossing the road, of too much water in the bath, of walking in the rain too long, being out in the cold, living near a hospital, waiting in it’s waiting room. Anything that could make you hurt, injure you, make you sick.
But that’s a mama’s paranoia. It comes and goes.
I love how much you love me. The way you stretch your arms out to me, hide your face in my neck when you are shy, run to me when you’re uncertain of something or someone. I love how you call out to me and ‘pump’ your hand when you want milk. I love that its me you come to when you get hurt, or frightened or afraid. I love that it’s me you come to when you want comfort, or kisses â€“ yes, I know its all about me, but then, I said I love how much you love me.
Your first birthday party was great (yesterday â€“ 3 October). I decorated a cake for you in a zoo theme, and I stuck zoo stickers all around the room. I made a fruit hedgehog and chocolate fondue and other snacks. All your animal toys were in the play corner for all the children to play with and I gave them all a goody bag with a picture to colour, pens to colour the bag, and extra pictures inside. There was a bib with an animal on it, and wild animal pictures. So many people came, the flat was almost too full to move. You ran around playing with everyone and were a perfect entertainer. When we sang for you, you clapped. I will remember your 1st birthday party forever.
I can’t wait to see what this year brings us, my precious child. You are such a pleasure to be with, you are a treasure to me and you make me so proud so often. I love you so very much.
Happy birthday Baby Girl.