In the morning you always wake before me. I hear you playing with and talking to your stuffed animals, which is much better than an alarm clock. I swing my legs out of bed, stand up, and turn toward the crib. Lately you have been doing a little dance as soon as you see me. It’s like a shot of espresso, heroin, and love straight to the heart. It’s the best feeling in the world.
I am still nursing you, and although it has been a long struggle, and not always the easiest choice, I know it is the best thing for you. You are often easily distracted by everything around you, but sometimes, like this morning, you eat contentedly while swinging your arms to and fro as if conducting an orchestra. Who knows, maybe you will be come a musician. You certainly love making noise! When you are done nursing you always beam at me, as if I have just given you a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Or the world’s largest cupcake.
Of all my reasons for writing this blog, my favorite is the fact that some day you will have a journal of your childhood, a record of the highs and lows of being a little boy, and what a blessing and a gift you are to those around you. You have given me so much joy that I want nothing but joy for you. If I am tempted to think of myself as too busy, if I am tempted to think that anything in this world is more important than you, all I have to do is think about how quickly this first year has gone by, and how much you have changed. The best thing you have done for me is to teach me to stop, put everything else aside, and get down on the floor with you for a little while. Making you laugh is my only job. I had no idea there could be so much joy in the world.
Of course, you also like to make raspberries with a mouth full of applesauce. Or get into the paper recycling and spread it all over the room. Now when I tear those annoying cards out of magazines, I smile and think, “It’s your favorite toy!” You also love empty boxes, hot cups of tea, and climbing the bookcases to get to Mama’s books. No baby books for you, thank you very much, only the biggest, heaviest works of literature will do, because the paper is thinner and easier to chew, and the because the books make a more satisfying thump when they hit the ground.
You have two bottom teeth and the two on top are now breaking through. You walk all over the place while holding on to the furniture, but haven’t yet tried taking an independent step. That’s okay, because Mama and Papa aren’t in a hurry for you to grow up too fast. We are enjoying all of your little stages. Your papa and I want to be perfect parents, because you are such a perfect little boy. We want to create a childhood for you that is like a poem, or a symphony.
But we struggle. We are nervous and overprotective and overwhelmed. We weigh every decision and how it might impact you, from feeding to traveling to vaccinations to toys. I am constantly grappling with how to cope when my own instincts as a mom go up against the advice and wishes of the experts, the books, family, and friends. Every choice we make, we make with you and your needs at the center. We know that we are making many mistakes, but we are also creating a household filled with love and laughter. We are creating a family.