Today, my sweet little baby turns one year old. I cannot believe this day is here. I have a one year old.
But, just yesterday, you were this chubby, snuggly, finger-chewing, feisty little newborn. You loved to eat, you slept like you had your own little internal alarm clock, and your hair twisted in one little curl above your forehead. Your little foot turned inward and you hated to be swaddled up. You rarely cried and we counted our blessings.
You grew so fast. The days passed and we were overwhelmed with love.
We learned about you and you learned you had us wrapped around your little finger.
You taught us patience. You taught us joy in little moments. You taught us how to live life in little bursts, fits and starts.
You taught me fear, a mother's fear - that gripping, consuming sensation of caring more for someone else than you ever have for yourself.
But you also taught me joy. Pure, uncomplicated joy.
There were days when I felt like I was doing it all wrong. Days when I felt like I finally got it right.
There were days we cried together. Days when I laughed uncontrollably with your shrill, piercing screech of happiness.
There were milestones reached and lessons for parents that babies take their own sweet time in how they choose to conquer this world.
Some days we played dress up.
You learned to ham it up for mama's camera.
Some days were diaper days.
Or naked days.
Your personality burst forth and there was no holding you back.
You ate anything I gave you and were most at peace with your fingers in your mouth. You love tickles under your chin and watching your dogs run around.
You found your voice and your rhythm, dancing to any beat and flapping your arms with excitement.
And then, sweet girl, I woke up one day and you were grown.
No one warned me it would happen so fast.
You started moving and shaking and never looked back.
You baby cheeks and endless arm "links" began to fade, and I could start to see the little girl you will become.
I didn't know it would happen so fast.
You see, my little Harper, you will always be my little baby. You will grow big and tall and confident and strong. You will reach and reach and I will champion your every victory and cry with your every struggle. I will celebrate your beautiful life each and every day. One day you will be a big girl, a woman, hopefully a mom yourself. I pray I can be there as you take every difficult step in life - a phone call, perhaps just a drive away. You will grow and I will love you every moment.
Your heart, and my heart - they are inextricably entwined.
Yes, you will grow up. But, just know:
I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.