To my girl, Evans, on your first birthday,
When I sat down to write you this letter, I tripped over one of your many toys. It's still singing and blinking red and yellow on the ground where I just stubbed my big toe. When I put your pajamas on you tonight, I couldn't wait for your bedtime so that I could sit down. By the time I laid you down, I stared at you on the video monitor, thinking just how much I love your little face. I thought how very much like motherhood that is. Along the way I've fallen down, I've been hurt, but all the while you sing and light up my world like no one else could. Just like your blinking toy that's still buzzing at my feet.
A year ago I was pregnant. Waiting not so patiently on your arrival. Waiting to see what your face would look like. Would you have your daddy's eyes, my smile? Waiting to hold your sweet hands. Waiting to look at your eyes and hear your cries for the very first time. Waiting for that epidural. On December 13, 2013 at 12:06pm, that wait was over. I remember looking at you and processing 'ok, that's her, my daughter'. I was a clueless new mom and you were unsure of your surroundings in a big new world. Honestly, when we looked at each other, we were both confused. We were strangers, and yet we knew each other. Only a mother could understand.
Two days later we brought you home. I soon realized that nursery I had poured over for weeks on end to get just right didn't matter too much. We spent little time in there the first four months. Those months were a learning curve for both of us. Survival of the fittest. You hated to sleep. Most of your first days were spent crying at decibels that scared our dog Blakely. She would run outside to hide from your shrills. There were times I remember wanting to do the same. Your nights were spent constantly feeding, snacking, and screaming. I remember thinking to myself it had to get better, didn't it? It had to. I would tuck you in at night, swaddled, white noise, all the stops all other mothers before me swore by, and yet you weren't buying into any of it. So, awake every couple of hours we went. I told myself 'it won't be like this for long'. And looking back, it wasn't. At sixteen weeks, you slept through the night and have ever since. Now when I lay you down at night, I can hardly wait for you to wake up. Waiting on you to fill the house with your sounds. Sounds I no longer want to run and hide from, but rather run to. Waiting not so patiently to kiss your cheeks and tell you 'good morning'. No longer strangers, with a love only a mother could comprehend.
At 4 months you learned to roll over. Your daddy and I were so excited for you, not fully realizing how busy you would soon be. At 5 1/2 months you were learning to crawl, and had it mastered by 6 months. At 7 months you pulled up, at 10 months you took your first steps, and at 10 1/2 months you were walking. Now at one year, you are practically running everywhere and climbing everything. You sleep so well at night and for your naps, and it's no wonder because your waking hours are spent on the move. We encourage your curiosity and love to watch the way you study things. Your daddy says you'll be an engineer one day the way you pick apart your toys and try to disassemble and reassemble them all. Who knows what your potential will be. I wish I could bottle up your innocence and happiness to take with you along the way.
You've always been a jabberer, making raspberries and jibbers since you were around 2 months old. You carry on conversations with yourself. You love to drop your sippy cup and say "uhhh ohhhhh". You've been able to say "mama" and "dada" for a while now, but our new favorite is to hear you say "hiiiiii" and "heeeeeyyyyy" in your little southern voice. You put a drawl on your words already, a habit someone along the way will probably try to correct, but their efforts will likely be unsuccessful. You just smile real big and say "hiiiiiii y'all" all you want to, okay, Evans? Southern girls usually get their way, anyhow. Just ask your daddy.
Food is very exciting to you. Although you aren't waking at night anymore, you still love to eat. Your favorite place is your high chair. You could sit there for an hour or more if I kept putting food on your plate. Just like your great-granddaddy Deedaw, you really appreciate food. You don't appreciate when the meal runs out, and are very vocal about this. A true southerner, indeed.
You still love your thumb. Another habit I know that we will one day have to break you of, but for now I love to see you soothe yourself. My heart nearly explodes when I see you and that thumb before bedtime or when you are in a situation you aren't sure about. I hate to see you upset, and you've had a few tumbles that caused big tears. You bounce back rather quickly, and I know it won't always be this way. I know that one day you'll experience real heart break and real let downs, but for now I can fix you with a kiss and a Mommy loves you. Just know that down the road I will be there for you even if the fixes aren't as fast, and the boo-boos seem a little more permanent. Mommy loves you.
My hope for you is that you'll continue to explore and learn. I hope the next year you are met with as many new experiences as the first. Thank you for showing me how to look at life through innocent eyes. Thank you for the sleepless nights, the spit up covered shirts, the stinky diapers, and especially the smiles. Thank you for showing me what 2, 3, and 4 AM look like. Thank you for teaching me patience and unconditional love. Thank you for being YOU, and thank God for making me your mommy.
Mommy loves you.