To my daughter on her first birthday,
Layla – it’s hard to put into words how I feel today. A year ago, you were born. A year ago, on this day, for 23 hours and 51 minutes I didn’t know you – I didn’t know you were a girl – I didn’t know your name [Full disclosure – I didn’t know your name for another 24 hours after that]. You came into this world and I was forever changed. You have made me smile more than I thought was possible – you filled a void in my heart that I didn’t know was empty. When you were born, the nurses in the hospital all consistently said a few things. She is beautiful. She is strong. She will tell you what she wants. At the time, I didn’t really get it. How could a newborn exhibit such a personality already? But they were right – boy were they right. I am, of course, biased. But I’ll say it. You are the most beautiful baby I have ever laid my eyes on. You have this sparkle in your eyes that melts hearts. When you smile your whole face lights up. I don’t have to be biased to know that you’re strong. At a year, you are walking (practically running) and climbing everything in sight. You are the opposite of a laid back baby – you are pretty vocal about getting when you want. So, a year later, I’d like to say those nurses were right.
Right now, I am your world. There are other people and things that make you happy. But when you are sleepy, or fussy you want me. I cherish every moment of that. I know it won’t last. I know there will come a point in time when you won’t feel safest and happiest snuggled up in my lap. I know there will be a point in time when you will mutter mom stop, you’re embarassing me. And I’ll love those moments too, because they are, after all, a rite of passage. But for now, I will take every snuggle, every outstretched arm run, every tear because all you want is for me to hold you.
Over the last twelve months, I have been filled with mixed emotions at every milestone. Absolute joy at seeing you learn one more thing, mixed with a bit of sadness over the stage that we had moved past; knowing I would never get that particular stage back with you. I say this with complete honesty: every time I think this has GOT to be the best age yet – it just gets better. At 3 months you were smiling, rolling over and babbling and I thought it was the best thing ever. At 6 months you started laughing and interacting with us, crawling and pulling up to stand. I truly thought it couldn’t get better. Then at 9 months you started walking and that (although game changing) has been an absolute blast. Now, at a year, you love to be chased around while we repeat “I’m gonna get you” and the giggling is never ending. You literally run to me with your arms stretched out for a hug when I pick you up every day. I mean, truly, can it get any better? I don’t think so! But some how, some way, it will. That I know.
I could go through every milestone, every moment, every thing that has happened. I could write about you for hours, and not get sick of it. But I just want to leave you with these thoughts.
A few days ago there was a tragedy; yet another mass shooting. 50 innocent people were killed and why? Because someone felt like it. 50 families forever changed. 50 families that will never get to kiss their sons and daughters again. 50 families that will always wonder why. Here’s what I have to say – I ask that you never go to a night club, so this doesn’t happen to you. Never go to a movie theatre, because it’s happened there too. Never go to school, since we know that’s common. Never go to work, because there’s a risk. Do I sound ridiculous? Yes, yes I do. I can’t prevent you from living your life – but the sad part is that people are going about their every day lives when these tragedies occur. Children in school, adults enjoying their Saturday night, people of all ages at their workplace, or watching a movie. It’s not right that I have to be scared for you, all the time. I pray that things change as you grow up. I pray that you will never have to worry about these things; that your children won’t know these kinds of tragedies. I pray that you will live a life of love, not hate. I pray that others around you live a life of love as well. Layla – just love people. Surround yourself with love, not hate. And everything will be alright, I promise.
My sweet girl –
Now that I’ve known you, I can never go back to NOT knowing you.
Now that I’ve known you, I don’t know how to be happy without you.
Now that I’ve known you, I can’t imagine a world without you.