My little girl,
Today we wake up in the morning as we always do, with kisses and cuddles and milk and giggles. But this morning is different, because today is your first birthday. You are ONE.
It is a quiet Monday morning, snow has fallen over night and has settled softly around our home, a pale white light leaks through the windows and spills onto us. Your warm body laying on my chest. I am home to you. And you are home to me now too. I remind you that your father is at work now but that he kissed your forehead and whispered “Happy birthday my 1 year old girl” into your ear while you slept, right before he left in the morning. We listen to your birthday song – forever young by Bob Dylan. You are still sleepy so you lay quietly on me while I pour all my love onto you as you get ready to greet the day. To greet your day. This is your day. Every day is.
I slip into my bathrobe and scoop you up into my arms and we make our way to change your diaper. Changing your diaper is no easy task these days. The idea of having to lay still for 30 seconds is unimaginable to you, and I always have a multitude of random objects on hand to try to keep you distracted. Today, you took an interest in your winter knit hat while I changed you. Off we go next to the bathroom, you love watching me brush my teeth. Sometimes you sit at my feet and play with my lipsticks while I wash my face, but most of the time you prefer to be carried. I have learned how to do most things one handed now. I brush your swollen pink gums with my finger. Your first bottom tooth is beginning to poke through. I sing “This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth, early in the morning.” You find that amusing. You look at the mirror and pout. I don’t know how you learned to do that but you do it all the time now. I pee with you tugging at my feet.
Next, I turn on the TV and put on My Little Pony for you, although you love Elmo the most, I felt like maybe we should try something different. You pull yourself up and touch the TV. I put on your bib, and place you in your high chair. I try to give you a spoon-full of yogurt. You spit it out. I try a few more times. You start blowing raspberries. I give you a few pieces of cheese. You crush the cheese making your hands so stinky. A small piece finds its way to your mouth. I make some porridge for myself, and give you a spoon of it. You refuse that too. I think the most challenging part of mothering you at this age is in feeding you. I don’t think I’m doing it right and it’s something I worry about a lot.
After breakfast, we wash your sticky fingers, and you move through our living room like a little hurricane, pulling out toys, while I clean your high chair and the floor of discarded food. We get dressed for the day. You look so grown up in your outfit, and I catch a little glimpse of a little girl, and not the baby I have spent the last year with.
We sit on the floor and play. You are unusually sleepy this morning. You still have an hour or so before you are due for your first nap of the day, but today you cry and cling to me, so we put the toys away and walk to the bedroom. You drink your milk and fall asleep quickly in my arms and I spend the next 10 minutes trying to extract and untangle my body from your body without waking you.
And this is where I find myself now, a few minutes to myself to reflect on one year of you. It has been a year of small things, the very smallest things – a small smile, a small tooth, a small girl – that have left the biggest imprint on me.
Let me tell you a little bit about you, Reya:
At one year old, I can see fragments of your personality emerging. You are quite simply, a delight. You smile easily but it takes more work to make you laugh. You have a strong voice. You know what you like and what you don’t like, you know what you want and what you don’t want. You like people, but often observe from a distance. I feel that when you don’t go to someone, it is because you have decided you do not want to at that time, rather than out of shyness. It’s a subtle distinction, but I can feel the difference. You take delight in anything and everything. You love to be silly. You make me laugh every day. You are bold. You are a little bit mischievous, which I find extremely endearing (for now ha). You love animals, especially dogs. You are not frightened by much. You crawl so fast.
You love music. You notice different melodies, and calm to the ones that are most familiar to you, you have done this from when you were very little. Your favourite songs are:
+ We are going to be friends – The White stripes
+ Beat it – Michael Jackson
+ Brahmananda Swaroopa – Sounds of Isha (and some other meditative/sacred chanting),
+ and any song your father sings to you. Just recently, you like to bounce up and down when you hear a song you particularly like.
Other things you love: Being carried, milk, Elmo, my little pony, baths and splashing, cheese, taking a shower with me, your family, taking objects out of a bag or box, being outside, watching the snowfall, eating things that are not food, cuddles and kisses, when I sneeze (this always makes you laugh!), putting your hand in your dad’s beard, dogs – April in particular.
Things you say: Gung gung, ech, thathatha, papa, aah-papa, pap, baabaa, kabidi kabidi.
Things you don’t like: The carseat, the car, when I can’t pick you up, eating.
You try to show me your teeth when I ask to see them. You have 1.
You learned (I do not know from where) how to pout, and do it with so much focus.
When I ask you “what sound does a lion make?” you say “rawwwwr” even though you don’t know what a lion is or even what a sound is.
When I am carrying you to sleep, you pat my back and say “thattithatti” which, in our language, means “pat, pat” – because you like to be patted to sleep.
You say “poove” which means flower.
If I ask you “Where is Reya?” you put both hands on your chest.
Your first word was papa. And then “appappa” – which means grandpa.
A whole year has passed by in a moment, and yet life before you feels like a blurry photograph. In July, I read a quote that said “we have 18 delicious summers with our children and this is one of them.” Time contracted before my very eyes. 18 precious summers of your childhood. If I’m so lucky. And my god, I hope I am.
I must admit that time passing is something that often happened unnoticed. Before you, 2 years could pass and everything could outwardly appear very much the same. But as a mother, you have a visual representation of time in your arms, that is growing and changing every day. In 1 year with you, I could watch the the transformation before my very eyes – how you grew from a little bird that fit delicately in my hands, into a stumbling toddler about to take her first steps. I can no longer take time so lightly, and I am thankful for that.
I would like to share with you some photographs from Reya’s first birthday party.
Our DIY birthday banner!
The theme of the party was pastel rainbow, and I thought this banner was perfect for the occasion. I don’t consider myself much of a crafty person – I haven’t made much with my hands before. But I truly enjoyed this opportunity to try out a few things! Such a great side effect of motherhood: you try things you wouldn’t have tried before. For your baby
A birthday cake made by mama. I wasn’t pleased with my colour selection for the frosting, in the end – I felt it didn’t flow together all that well. BUT, this is the most “professional” looking cake I’ve ever made and it has inspired me – I now have a whole list of different types of cakes I want to try. This was only a little 6 inch cake, too small to feed all our guests, so we did order a bigger one. I didn’t want to subject all our sweet guests to my experimental baking lol.
And the beautiful rainbow R – lovingly painted by Reya’s aunt Alexis.
She found the plate to be far more fascinating than the cake.
The set up
Those little eyes peeping over. Ugh, why is she so adorable?!
It was like she just knew this was a good photo op.
This 12 months of Reya board – the top part of it painted by my husband. The hanging embroidered R, made for Reya by aunt Becky of Head in t’clouds.
We had decided that acquiring and painting this board was primarily my husband’s responsibility. Two days before the party – we were walking through the dollar store looking for a few last minute things and we had a little conversation that went like this:
Me: So how is the photo board for Reya that is your responsibility coming along?
Husband: Oh it’s coming along fantastically. I’m working on it non stop in my dreams.
He is hilarious. Haha. He was so busy at work the week leading up to her birthday and it was almost impossible for me to get any crafting done while Reya was awake during the day (which was ALL the time since she decided that since she’s like ONE now and not a baby anymore, she decided to drop one of her naps too). Thankfully, my mother came a week early, and it was with her help that we managed to pull all of this together.
Reya is at an age where I can watch her, and she won’t be self conscious about it or think it’s weird. And watching her just be, and go about her life – is one of my favourite things to do. She is so fascinating. When she sees food, she simply HAS to squelch it all up in her hands, but I suspect she finds the sensation somewhat disgusting because she always has a slightly grossed out expression on her face as she sees the food on her fingers. I love that.
There are so many things I love about this girl. I love that any time someone she loves picks her up, she rests her head and wraps her little fingers around our shoulder and neck – like she’s hugging us back. I love that we spend most of the day in mid-hug. I love that one foot is slightly smaller than the other so one sock always falls off. I love that her favourite thing to do is take things out of a bag or a box. I love her steady focus and dedication to this “job”. She takes her work very seriously.
The time capsule station for guests to leave a little note for Reya that she can open for her 18th birthday! We also placed one of her first preemie onesies on the table. This photograph doesn’t quite capture it but it is SO tiny, the entire thing fits in my hand. And I have small hands. The blue love heart reads “Sometimes the smallest things take up the biggest space in your heart.”
I love you.
You are life to me.
You are magic to me.
Happy First Birthday.