Dear Naia: On Your 1st Birthday
Those first few months with you were but a blur of sleepless nights, progressively more challenging diapers and an unwelcome feeling of restriction. You see, I never wanted a child. It was only when I met your father, and he insisted that he HAD to have one, END OF STORY, that I gave in. Motherhood has never been my first choice.
By the time we started trying though, I was sorta kinda ready. Not completely ready to give up a lifestyle that I’d fought for and dearly loved, but ready to make whatever sacrifices were necessary. At 42, I felt that I’d already lived a pretty full and amazing life. A life that a lot of people dream about. I’d lived in different countries, partied the nights away, met all kinds of people, had great friendships, traveled the world, and fallen hopelessly in love.
If there was ever a time to have you, it was then.
But I had serious misgivings, and secretly hoped I wouldn’t get pregnant. I was 42 after all…it was definitely within the realm of possibility. But of course I did. And my thoughts turned to the very real possibility that I would be cursed by a demon child, as a lesson from the Universe, about patience, unconditional love and surrender.
And then you were born.
And you were the exact opposite of a demon child. You were the best possible baby that could ever have existed. So sweet, happy and easy that we couldn’t quite believe you were real. How had we gotten so lucky?
Still, I’m not gonna lie and tell you that I fell madly and instantly in love with you. That I cried at the sight of you, or felt any overwhelming emotion at all. I knew you were mine, and that I was responsible for you, and that I cared for you, but love?
Love took time.
It took the fact that you never cried. That you slept through the night after 4 months. That you nursed easily, ate everything I gave you, and never complained, even when you’re inexperienced parents made mistakes that caused you physical pain.
It took your first tentative smile. Your first adorable giggles. The crinkles around your nose when you grin. Your determined attempts to lift your oh-so-heavy head. How you kick your legs in excitement and shriek passionately when you’re happy. That you stubbornly refuse to wear a hat.
It took the unbridled sound of your laughter. The cleverness in your bright, beautiful eyes. Your persistent and unflagging desire to see, touch, and explore everything around you. That you already know how to turn on my iPhone, and pull the safety covers off electric sockets.
It took the feel of your little arm around my neck. Witnessing your 500 million different sleeping positions. How you grab my hand in the car and smell me, like I’m some kind of aphrodisiac, when you want to fall asleep. How you wake in the middle of the night, and quietly sob “mom,” before snuggling your head in close to whatever part of me you can find.
Today, you’re incredibly, unbelievably a year old. And I’m unabashedly, unashamedly, wholeheartedly, foolishly in love with you. Happy birthday, my sweetest love.
You are, without a doubt, the best parts of me and your daddy. I can’t imagine a world without you in it.