A Letter to My Son on His First Birthday

My sweet Buddy,

You're a year old today. A whole 365 days. I just can't get over those words. I start to cry every time I think about it, maybe because I don't want you to grow up so fast but also because it's been such a rollercoaster of a year. Those tears are mostly happy, joyful tears, but a little sad, too. I look back at our first year together and see the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Motherhood changed my heart in ways I never saw coming.

I had a gut feeling you were a boy from the beginning. There's just some things that a Mama knows, and that was one of them for me. We didn't find out if you were a boy or girl until you were born, but I had already bonded with you, my son, before your birth day. Your daddy and I prayed for you for a long time, Buddy. Looking back now, I wouldn't change a single minute in our journey, because the Lord knew what a precious, wonderful gift He was giving us. It was worth every second of waiting. You were worth every hard day of waiting for a baby.

We didn't get off to the best start. My labor with you lasted a lot longer than we expected, but you came into the world in a fury with only a couple of pushes. Those first few days in the hospital were bliss, like out of a dream, but I don't think either of us slept a wink. I couldn't stop looking at you. I couldn't believe you were actually here, and that you were mine. I remember the pediatrician coming to check on you a mere 36 hours after you were born; he looked at me and said, "Well, he is perfect. Y'all can go home!" And that was it. They discharged us, and I looked at you and said, "Wait, y'all are really letting me leave already? Shouldn't I have some paperwork or instructions on what's normal or something? We just leave?" Your daddy drove you around the Square on your first car ride home and I cried the whole time. Partially because it was so surreal and perfect and you slept like an angel in the car, but partially because I wasn't sure what to do with you. They just let us take you. I didn't feel ready.

Those first few weeks (well months, if I'm being honest) were a blur looking back now. They seemed to have lasted forever, but now I know they were really just a blink. The days were long but the months were really short. I wish I could say I enjoyed every minute, but we both know that's not true. And I've learned as the year has passed that that's okay. I look back at photos of you in those first few weeks and barely remember you looking so tiny. People told me to cherish those days, because they pass so quickly, but all I could do is cry and wish for those sleepless days filled with reflux, tears, and guilt to be over already. I think I cried some days because I was grieving the postpartum/newborn period that I thought we should have. No one tells you how hard it is to feel normal when you have a brand new little life who is completely dependent on you; when a love for that baby almost seems to suffocate you...when that little baby doesn't sleep and just cries, you feel like you're doing everything wrong. But now, I see that it was just part of our story--part of the Lord turning my life upside-down and making me depend on Him with every fiber of my being. 

But, we made it through. The Lord met me in those moments and truly redeemed the hard days and nights. I got to know you and you got to know me. We finally started figuring each other out, and the fog seemed to lift a little. There were less tears on both of our parts, lots more sleep, and finally the joy I was supposed to feel in the beginning. The days with Daddy away at work didn't seem quite as long. We listened to a lot of worship music; "Good, Good Father," "Jesus, We Love You," and "10,000 Reasons" will always, always make me cry in church because it takes me right back to your nursery, rocking you in your glider, praying for you to sleep so I could sleep, too. I wish I could've seen then that those were moments of pure, precious worship; of Jesus meeting me in my valley. 

You got cuter with every day that passed. I looked forward to getting you out of your crib in the morning, because you were so happy to see me that your smile almost leapt off your face. Your eyes became bluer and bluer with every day, too. You finally started getting some hair...blonde hair! We did a lot of traveling in your first few months--you went to the beach, to Nashville, and to Savannah all before you were 12 weeks old. You were a champ traveler, and we loved showing you our little Southern world. I treasure those trips and can't wait to keep seeing the world through your eyes. You make every day better, Williams. 

We did a few things as parents that made some people think we were nuts--from sleep training to putting you on a schedule, we know what works for you. You've been on a schedule since you were a bitty babe, but you thrive on that. I think you're like your dad in that way...you like to know exactly what is coming next and what the day holds. You are a creature of habit, but I think that's one reason you're such a good sleeper and so happy most of your days. The funny thing is that regardless of your schedule, you're still so easy going. You go with the flow, and I love that, too. We figured out what works for us and our home is so much happier because of it. 

We made it a year of breastfeeding, and I'm so proud of that, Buddy. It wasn't easy and was part of the reason the first few months were so tough, but that is one thing I wouldn't change. That time together was and is still so special. Nursing you in those early months gave me a chance to sit and really savor you and your little face and fingers, the rolls in your chubby legs; the way your body curled into mine while you fed made me feel like you really needed me and that felt good. That bond is unlike any other and I'm so thankful we have that. I keep saying I'm ready for that journey to be over, but I know deep down I'll miss that time for just me and you--you won't be my little baby any more. It's a bittersweet feeling.

You are the happiest boy, my Buddy. You've already got such a big personality. You do this thing where if someone around you laughs, you do a fake laugh, too. It makes me laugh so hard and I just love the joy in your face. When you smile, your whole face smiles. I pray that you always have that kind of contagious happiness in your spirit. It never fails--when we're out in public, we're stopped by no less than 3 people saying how beautiful or happy or precious you are. You're the center of attention, and for good reason! 

You've gone from a jaundiced little boy who had his nights and days confused to laughing, sitting, crawling, clapping, waving, driving cars, and taking your first steps. You have 2 teeth with a few more expected any day. You say "ma-ma," "da-da," "Ne-ne," and will mimic a lot of words we say. You love food; you will literally eat anything we put in front of you. Waffles, yogurt bites, turkey, bananas, and eggs are your current favorites. Those are things I never expected to celebrate so hugely, but each milestone is a celebration around here. You are utterly obsessed with Nena, our dog, and Mary Elliott, your big cousin. You are pretty partial to your Mama, too, and I secretly love it. 

Your daddy and I were talking last night about how, just the day before you were born, he caught me sitting on the end of our bed sobbing. He of course thought I was in labor or that something was wrong, but he says I just choked out words between tears, "I won't ever feel this baby move inside of me again. What if I miss it?" We laugh about it now, because I know now that life with you on this side is infinitely greater than life with you in my belly. Don't get me wrong, I had a wonderful pregnancy with you, and I really did enjoy every minute, but I had no idea of the joy the Lord was about to cover our world in with your little life. 

I can promise you this, my Williams: I promise to treasure every second from here on out. I promise to truly experience those moments. Even when it's hard, and even when you're so fussy that I just want to scream. Even on the hardest of days, I'm going to remember every second, every emotion, every fear, and every joy. I'm going to savor every new thing  you do and every milestone we reach. Sometimes life happens way too fast for my heart and soul to process, but I'm going to do all that I can to make those first days up to you. I promise to never wish a day with you away. You've taught me more in a year than I ever imagined--you saved my life and gave me back a life that is truly joy-filled and worth living.

Today is going to be a big celebration. I'll try not to cry too much, but if they do come, I promise they're happy tears. You're the best thing that ever happened to us, Charles Williams. Thank you, Jesus, for this little life. 

Happy first Birthday, Williams Walker. 
Love to the moon and back, always and forever,

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