dear oliver -
happy 1st birthday! i can't believe a year has passed already. i guess we've been so busy we hardly had the chance to notice. i look over my shoulder in awe at all we have done together, while still elbow deep in mommyhood in the present.
the past year has been eye opening, breath taking, amazing, and special beyond words. bringing you home was scary and exciting. the responsibility of being a new parent is, at times, overwhelming. nothing can prepare you for caring for a newborn. like most miracles, your first child is something you have no idea how to deal with. but all it took was you cuddled against my neck to fill me with a profound feeling of love and accomplishment.
everyone will tell you to enjoy every moment when you have a baby. it is hard to remember to love the moment in the middle of the night, when you have not slept, when you have changed the 5th poopy diaper in a 4 minute time span, when your child is crying and you have no idea how to make it better. it is draining and frustrating, and you doubt yourself as a parent. but it is so difficult because you care so much and want to be the best parent you can be.
i have tried too hard this year to do everything right, and i think the biggest lesson i have learned is that there is no right, not every time. parenthood is not like math - there isn't always a clear, concise, definitive answer. maternal (and paternal) instinct, along with a little education, is what best defines a parent's "right" actions.
but parenthood isn't all confusion and challenges. the incredible joy of being a parent is that seemingly infinitesimally small things are what make this, the world's toughest job, seem like the best kept secret in career choices: the first smile, the first laugh, the first gibberish conversation, the first real word, the first sloppy baby kiss; sitting, crawling, walking; who ever thought that watching someone roll over would be so thrilling? watching a person grow and develop through all these milestones is a very, very special gift. you cuddled in my lap while reading books; acting silly and laughing together; watching you play out some game that, until you have the language to explain it to me, will be a mystery. learning your likes and dislikes as you grow and determine who you are. and i don't think that your child sleeping on your shoulder ever gets old. these are the things which have made me wonder how i ever lived without you.
it is for all these things and those around the corner that i am so excited for this next year. seeing what comes next and learning how to enjoy all of it, even those 2 year old temper tantrums (which you're doing a good job practicing for, might i add). you spent the first year of your life growing into a person; it will be this next year that we'll see just who that person is. i promise you that i will continue to try to be a good parent. never forget that my love for you is boundless, and that as you grow, as happy and proud as i will be that you are becoming your own amazing person, i'll always need your sweet little kisses.
happy birthday, my sweet baby boy (now nearly a big boy). i love you!