A letter to my baby girl on her first birthday
My dear girl,
On your birthday, while we were at Sunday Mass, the questions that I had been pondering all week, came together in one moment, when I looked down at you and wondered again, “You are one. Where did the last year go? How is it you are one???” At that precise moment, the choir began, “All that I am, sings of the God who brings new life, to birth in me…” and your hopeless mother here, fought hard to swallow the sudden, hard, sharp pain in my chest. Furiously, I blinked back the tears that would not have just spilled, but open the flood gates of my emo-heart.
You’ve turned one.
You, our precious little baby girl. You were just a bundle of gentleness when you arrived (despite all that fierce squirming the last month before you were born. Yes, you couldn’t wait to get out…). You were, and still are, the little flower who blossoms with a smile everyday, and unfolds quietly, prettily, ever so gently.
You, who right from the start, have been this patient, independent little spirit whom I feel, have not enjoyed our undivided attention as much as your brother has. But you don’t complain. You are always reaching for us, seeking us out, with that oh-so-cute-I-wanna-pinch-you-or-take-a-nom-of-you face breaking into the widest, happiest grin when you catch sight of us… but you would quietly – sometimes nonchalantly, other times resignedly – settle down to devote all your precious attention to your small tasks at hand.
In the beginning, Daddy and I weren’t quite sure what to do with you. At that point, we had been so used to just being “three”, that we didn’t know how to make that into a “four”. For a short time, I had great fears that maybe I didn’t know how to love another child. And you know what – that time passed by so quickly and easily. Soon, “three” didn’t feel right anymore. We couldn’t leave the house if you were left behind. During the times when we had to leave you behind, I felt like a part of me was missing. I started to miss you more and more when you weren’t with me. With your gentleness, you had weaved your way into our hearts even in the face of tumultous tantrums and so many distractions happening everyday. That’s your magic. That’s your charm. That’s you.
You’ve tolerated your brother’s tantrums, even those directed at you; you’ve endured being set aside while we tend to those tantrums. You’ve accepted lesser toys even though you clearly desire the big-boy toys (which are just not child-friendly enough for you to have), and it’s like, you quietly understand and just… accept.
These days, you are also fast becoming quite the little fighter. You’re the kind who wins battles by conquering the hearts and minds of those involved. 😀 Everyone thinks you are just a mere lovely thing to look at, cuddle and squish. Oh, you are all those things, but the truth is, you have a lot of fight in you! You’ve learnt how to guard your territory, and to proclaim how you feel – with screams, cries (real and fake ones!), mini-tantrums (that are so cute now, but which make me shudder when I think of how they will evolve). Whichever method you employ, it leaves us going, “Awwww…!!!” And just like that, you have us all on your side. Clever girl.
You are the baby Daddy and I had planned for, the baby girl Daddy and I had hoped for… and you have turned out to be our little baby girl who constantly melts our hearts and surprises us with your shy-sweet-girl but feisty demeanour.
Even I, who had struggled with the insecurities of having a daughter (well, coming from a family who doesn’t have such a wonderful record in the history of mother-daughter relationships), cannot help but be forced to reconcile some issues within, and to actually anticipate the years ahead when we can do so many mother-daughter girly things together.
I cannot wait for when we can have some heart-to-heart conversations… I am actually just waiting for those years when we can perhaps, grow to become each other’s soulmates.
For now, let’s take it slow. Don’t be in a hurry to grow up. Let me baby you a little bit more. There will be time for us to enjoy the pink phases, crushes and heartbreaks, defining what love is for you, and more womanly topics close to our hearts.
It hasn’t been an easy year, and it isn’t because of you. It’s just that I fear you may have been neglected because of all the time I’m devoting to your brother’s terrific twos. Maybe this is why, with you, I dream about the years ahead when we can have some alone time together – just you and I. Nevertheless, it is still amazing that I even dream about that, because it’s part of the mother-daughter thing that I don’t get. With you, it just seems worth working hard for.
Once, you were a stranger to me. Because I didn’t room with you, or have the opportunity to be completely with you only, I didn’t know how best to relate to you. Most times, you felt like a baby to me… and perhaps that was just it. Because these days, it feels like you are really just coming into being, and I’m so glad I didn’t miss this. I can’t wait to experience what’s next with you.
Thank you for coming into our lives, to complete the part of our family that we didn’t know was missing.
Emma baby girl, my little flower, I love you.
And I promise you, with me, you will never ever have too many shoes.