One year ago, your father held my hand as we walked down three flights of stairs and climbed into the back of a cab on Vlamingenstraat, our little street in Belgium, and we drove off to the hospital just as dawn was beginning to break. It's strange now, to think back to that day... it feels like a dream. I still remember holding you for the very first time.
So much has changed in this past year. I've changed - every day, more confident in my new role as your Mama, trying to quiet the voice in my head that tries to get me down saying: You have no idea what you're doing, you can't possibly raise a baby! This little voice will continue to pop up time and again as we continue to figure all this out, I'm sure... but now, a year in, I can stand up (somewhat) surefooted in my Mama shoes and hush the little voice: You're absolutely right. I have no idea what I'm doing. But I think I'm doing a damn fine job of raising this little bug. So beat it.
I can't even begin to describe all the changes that we've witnessed in you - and now I feel like you're on a roll, change is happening so quickly... and time is really beginning to snowball faster and faster. You're not walking yet, but we're putting bets on your first steps happening any day now. The way your eyes light up when you watch the big kids playing at the park - you want to be there, climbing and running right there with them... It's like you're starting to associate yourself more with the kids, and you're getting ready to shed all the baby-ness. That part, the loss of the baby part, is what I'm having a hard time with. So on those mornings when you fall asleep on me, I don't rush to put you down in your crib for your nap. I hold you for a while, give you little kisses on top of your head, and try to memorize that perfect, tender feeling of holding my sweet little baby.
You understand so much, and your non-verbal communication is becoming more clear: you smile and laugh when everything's fine, you give smooches when you're feeling lovey, and you scream the most horrible ear-piercing scream when you really want something. We've learned to read you loud and clear. You're testing out boundaries, finding your voice... but ooooooh, buggy, you can be a challenging little thing. I know, you're learning, and you want to be doing things on your own and on your own terms. I love that you're curious and want to explore everything around you. Your brain is processing a million things a billion miles a minute, and I'm sure it can be confusing to hear NO! when you reach for something dangerous because you're just trying to figure it all out... but you do not like hearing "no"... in fact, you will routinely take my "no" and let me know what you think of it very, very loudly.
And sometimes you bite.
But most of the time, you just want to play, and dance, and go for walks, and crawl up and down the hallway over and over and over again. We have music on in the house constantly, because you love to shake your tush, and nine times out of ten when you're really upset, a little dance party shakes you out of your funk. So we dance. And giggle. And tickle. And roll around. You're so playful and funny and adorable. You're my favorite.
You're one. One whole year old. You're still my baby... but you're also becoming your own little person. And we love you. So so so much.