I’ll try to keep this short; first because you’re currently snoozing on your Boppy and these days, those snoozes can last for hours…or only five minutes, and it’s difficult to know which each time. And secondly, because I know by the time you’re old enough to read and understand these letters, I suspect you’ll be bored or at least embarrassed by how much your mom has written about you throughout your life time, how wordy and emotional she tends to be.
And when you’re old enough to read and understand these letters, I think you’ll be really familiar with a particular feeling that’s been coming to mind over and over again in this first month. It’s a feeling I think most teenagers and young adults feel for a good chunk of time. I remember feeling it in a variety of circumstances and intensities from college age up until maybe just the last couple of years, when it started to fade as I really truly started to feel like more of an adult and less of a kid.
It’s this feeling that we have as young adults that we want to be treated by adults. We want the older, adultier adults to recognize us as such. We are own people now, we can make our own decisions. We can choose our own paths and make our own mistakes. We don’t want to be forever tied to our parents and other family members — we love them, but we want to feel like our own person. We’re ready to cut the ties and go out into the world as individuals.
Since you’ve been born, people keep reminding me of how quickly you’re going to grow, how fast this precious infant stage is going to fade and be just a warm, pleasant memory. People keep telling me this like they’ve forgotten who they’re talking to — me, who is constantly nostalgic, constantly mourning the loss of the current zeitgeist. I am sentimental about the most mundane daily experiences, and as excited as I am for the future, I’m constantly thinking about the way things used to be, moments in the past, those little bubbles of perfection and imperfection that make up our lives.
I know you’re going to grow, and fast. I can already tell from the way your precious little head, your big old noggin as I call right now, is getting bigger and filling out the length of my hand. I can tell from the way your cheeks have gotten a little chubbier and your beautiful belly a bit bigger. You’re still long and lean for a baby of your size, prompting your papa and I to ask where the hell you got that from, because the last thing either of us are is long or lean. But it’s a testament to how fast you’re growing — you can’t pack on the weight fast enough to get properly chubby yet, you’re just stretching out.
Already, one month has passed since you were born, since your papa and I heard that one miraculous, gasping, first breath and I felt this curious lightness and emptiness where you had laid inside me for so long. One month that simultaneously feels like the longest and shortest month, ever.
I drink up every little moment with you right now. Even the ones where I am exhausted. Even when it is 2 AM or 4 AM, and all I want is for both of us to be content and asleep in our beds. Even the moments when you are crying those heartbreaking little wails because it is just unfair that we would dare to change your diaper. When you are having one of your fussy days, and all you’ll let me do is hold you and hold you and bounce and bounce and bounce on our birth ball — I make myself stop, look away from the TV or phone. I stare down at you, your distinct little features, your big eyes and your puckered lips and your pert little nose. Those precious elven ears. I make myself memorize — everything. Your perfect face. How it feels to hold your warm little body, how light you are and yet how heavy compared to when we first held you. Your whimpers and cries and grunts, your furrowed brow and your little bird mouth. I hold your tiny, tiny hand in mine and just marvel at it.
I know how fast you are going to grow. I feel it every day, and already I mourn it. I can’t wait to see what a big, brave, clever, funny girl you’re going to be. I can’t wait to watch you learn and play and discover the world around you. It’s going to be fantastic, raising you. But I’m going to miss you as my tiny baby girl. The little baby who only wants to snuggle into my chest, and tuck your head under my chin. I’m going to miss the way I pat your back until you fall asleep, and your little hand brushes ever so gently, over and over my shoulder. I’m going to miss your little hand on my breast as we nurse, the way your eyelids get heavier and heavier as you fall asleep.
I understand now, why parents hold their babies so close, even when they’re teenagers and young adults. I only knew the one side of it, before. I only knew that feeling of a young adult who wants to be treated like a young adult. I only understood what it was to feel like you’re your own person and it’s about time you get to go and be yourself, without ties to anything or anyone else.
That was before I had you — because now, I completely understand why any parent feels that intense, long-lasting hold on their child. I look at you, and I know you’re going to learn first to sit up and then to crawl, and stand, and walk. You’ll learn to run, and hopefully to make first position and plié and arabesque. To read and write and make up stories and play with play-doh and do puzzles with your papa, to cook with him. You’ll learn to drive and maybe even chemistry and algebra, if you’re better at it than your mama was.
But to me, you will always be as you are now. You will always be that tiny infant who depends so completely upon me. No matter how big you get, how clever or stubborn or mature — I’m always going to look at you, and remember how it felt to have you cuddled against my chest, your body no longer than my forearm. Your feet tinier than my palm. Your little fingernails not even as big as a tic-tac. I will always see you as my precious, tiny newborn, my darling.
That’s why we mamas and papas can never quite let go of our babies. That’s why we won’t ever really be able to get over the fact that it’s a miracle you’re in this world, let alone that you graduated high school or won a scholarship or met the love of your life and got married yourself. We look at our babies at 5, 10, 16, 24 — and we still see that infant who peed on us during a diaper change and made us laugh about it instead of getting irritated. We see the infant who cried and cried until they were back in the safety of our arms, and no one else’s. We remember this time when you preferred us and us alone to anyone else in the universe. You will grow, you will change, you will find friends who fill your time more often than we do. You will meet a soulmate who understands who you are as a person more deeply and intimately than we can, simply because we are your parents.
I was on the other side of it, before. And during this first month; this exhausting, exhilarating, challenging, rewarding, insane month of a month — I am so aware of what a miracle you are. What a perfect little angel baby. What a pure soul you are right now, before you really know the world and can let it change you, affect you, shape you. I’m so lucky — I’m so lucky that I get to bear witness to you, right now. And right now, I’m so grateful that it gets to be me who rocks you and holds you and changes you and sings to you and gets up at 3 in the morning with you.
You won’t remember this time. You won’t remember exactly what we meant to each other, right now. You can’t, and I certainly won’t ever blame you for that.
But I will always be here to remind you. I will always be here to tell you how precious and good and pure you are, right now, at a month old. I will always be willing to tell you how much I love you now, do love you now as you are reading this, and will always, always love you because you are a piece of me. A month ago, you were still inside of me, and I think I couldn’t really understand what that truly meant until you were outside of me, drawing breath on your own. Until I could hold you in my arms and witness the reality of what I’d created, from scratch, in my own body.
I love you, my precious daughter. I can’t wait to see what the next month of your life brings — what you learn, how you grow, how our bond strengthens and deepens.
PS. You just woke up from your nap. Perfect timing, sweet girl. xo