My precious boy,
There is nothing I can write, no words I could put together, no well turned phrase that could possibly capture this past year. Until you have your own children, you won’t understand how much you love them or how deeply you change because of them.
I never imagined that motherhood was laced with desperate fear and anxiety. I figured I would follow my instincts and I would just know what to do. That is not how it happened for me. Because my instincts tend to go against the cultural norm, and I prefer to follow your lead, not bulldoze your personality down so you can meet our schedule. I thank God every day that your Daddy is supportive of how this should (in my opinion) go (even if he calls me a parenting snob).
I have been your mama for 365 days (no leap year this year), and for 365 days I have been evolving as you grow. I change each time you do. And even though I can’t claim you as just my own, you live in my heart.
I look at your newborn pictures and I realize that newborn Lincoln is a stranger to me. I don’t know the thoughts, or understand the personality of two day old Lincoln. I finally got to know you around two months old when your little eyebrows would raise as you tried to puzzle out the images in front of you. I realize now that it took me that long to go from panic mode, to mama mode. It took me two months to fall in love.
And now, one year old Lincoln and one year experience Mama know each other. We click and move in sync with each other’s moods and personalities. I know when you say “uhhhpa”, you want held. When you sign for “more”, even if you have not had any to start with, you want a snack. I know whether you will fall asleep simply by the placement of your arm across your face while I nurse you. I know that it is scary when Daddy blows his nose, when Mama runs the garbage disposal, and when the blender is on. Even more important, I know that despite the fear, you want to see what is happening—as long as we hold you while we let you watch. I didn’t expect to make up lullabies to ease you to sleep and silly rhymes just so you wouldn’t cry in the car. I didn’t know that the sight of your face is enough to snap me back into how much I love your father and how good my life is.
I expected so many things of motherhood and your first year. But the things that I didn’t expect are the most poignant. I didn’t expect to lose sleep for an entire year; that’s a rough one, but along with it comes you sleeping in our bed (which I swore would never happen while pregnant, and now I adore). I didn’t expect you to laugh, crawl, and talk in your sleep, and I would miss it if you weren’t nestled up next to us. I didn’t expect you to have your own sense of humor. You think Honey is hilarious; she can make you laugh just by walking into to the room. The cat too. I certainly did not expect you to pick up on small facial expressions and then mimic one of us when you catch our eye. I didn’t expect to fall in love with your Daddy all over again when you climb into his lap, and he reads you Bubbles, Bubbles . I didn’t expect that I would need so much reassurance and validation on how to be your mother, and once I felt my path, I didn’t expect that role to click so resolutely.
I didn’t know that initially, being away from you would cause such intense and physical pain, that it was hard to breathe normally. I never expected that sharp pain to turn into a dull ache, but it did. I didn’t anticipate wanting, needing, to delay my career to be home with you, nor did I expect to feel the indebtedness and gratitude to Cliff for working so hard just so I can be home with you.
I didn’t know that your giggle would be a tangible craving, that your eyes would look so much like your Daddy’s, that your hands would be so soft, that I would feel my heart grow each time you reached for me and tucked your head onto my shoulder.
I just didn’t know. And that is the biggest lesson I will take from this first year with you, Lincoln. That no matter my expectations, my schedule, my daily chores, my oh-so-important- adultness, that I can not possibly know the blessings God has for me that far exceed the limits of my plans.
Because I never would have anticipated you, or the complete joy our little family brings me.
You are loved. You are pure joy. You are our sweet baby boy.
Happy First Birthday.