It's been quite a year, Mr. Baby.
Thankfully, the difficulty, intensity and pain you used to enter this world was not foreshadowing. There has been an ease and joy and familiarity to you since the very beginning. After we got through those first few days of constant, wary brow-furrowing at everything you encountered, anyway.
We've been through a lot since then, but you have remained the happiest, friendliest, baby-est baby I've ever seen. Even in your darkest mood, even in your greatest pain, you are rarely more than ten seconds from a smile. You've endured every change and transition with the same calm demeanor, which I try to tell myself is just a naturally unflappable temperament and not early signs of Nordic repression.
You are so open to the world it both buoys and breaks my heart. As your mother, I worry that your agreeable nature will someday lead you to be taken advantage of, but I also relish the fact that you may grow into a socially confident child and adult, which would be a pretty new phenomenon, genetically speaking. You already bring so much light to me and the people around you. I can feel the tension around me lift when I'm, say, standing in line at the grocery and the other customers catch your attention. Your eager smile and twinkling eyes seem to ensnare and soothe anyone within sight of you. Everyone who sees you thinks you're taken with them and that your delight is specifically directed, and I don't ever try to correct this impression. I don't want to diffuse the natural joy you bring to everyone you meet.
As a second child myself, I know I've already fallen behind in documenting your milestones and developmental highlights. But as the mother of two, I've also learned that the day you started crawling isn't as important as the memory of your tiny fingers unconsciously reaching for me in the middle of the night or the achingly soft dent on the back of your neck. Your first year has sped by so much more quickly than your sister's, and knowing this, I've clung more tightly to your babyhood rather than spending hours on end wishing it would please go faster.
Things are about to change in a very drastic way. We've spent every day of your life together up to this point, and now your days will be filled without me. I'm not sure I can accurately explain how painful that fact is to me, but "surgery without anesthesia" is the closest description I can muster. But I also know I'm lucky. Nearly every mother who comes into my store says how nice it must be to have my baby at work with me, and I know nothing can replace the time that we've been able to have together. I'm going to miss you madly, but it's some consolation knowing that's because of the bond we've formed over the last twelve months.
You're an amazing little man, Mr. Baby. You are strong and curious and quick to laugh. You are thoughtful and cautious and easily offended. You love to eat. You love to play outside. You love to eat what you find outside. You love nearly anyone, especially kids and babies. You don't like dogs and cats as much as you used to (sorry about letting you watch both the critters die). You haven't taken a step but you can climb all the way up a slide or rock wall or flight of stairs. You sleep on your belly with your butt in the air, the way Cha Cha says I used to do. Your sister absolutely thrills you. You say mama and dada and bye bye and, I think, car. Or cat. Or keys? You point and clap and mimic like a little blond monkey. You are, quite simply, delightful.
I wish I could promise to protect you from every struggle ahead, but that's not realistic. What I can promise is that you will have so much love surrounding you that that the falls will always be softened. I believe in you already, in the gifts you have to offer, and I can't wait to see them opened to the world.
Happy birthday, my baby boy. I love you so much.