Friday, May 2, 2008

Happy Birthday, Cheeks

Day after tomorrow, my baby will be one year old. It’s almost impossible to believe that a year ago, I was huge and miserable and achy. More impossible yet, the thought that, during those last heavy days of pregnancy, one single, crazy worry consumed me: Would I be able to love this kid? It sounds wicked to say it now, but I spent the better part of 40 weeks worried that I made a mistake. How would I have the time and the heart and the energy left in my life to love another kid as much as I adore Madeline? It didn’t seem possible, and I truly felt, in my secret heart, less glad than nervous, less excited than scared, even on that final bumpy ride to the hospital.

And then he was born.

How can words express how wrong I was? That I loved him instantly and completely is, of course, the truth—but perhaps a simplified version of the truth. Because how could I predict, on that very first day, that he would grow to become this happy, unflappable little guy that knows no stranger and never stops smiling? I didn’t guess then that he would blossom into a child who stops what he is doing to crawl into my lap for a kiss, or to lay his head on my shoulder for a long, delicious minute. I couldn’t know that he would be this easy, loving kid who lets himself be carried along on every kind of adventure, who delights in whatever crazy game his sister invents, even if it ends with him being covered in pillows or closed up in a cardboard box. On that first day, I loved him as fully as I believed I could love anyone—yet, somehow, today, I love him a millionfold more.

Sunday marks the first of many birthdays for my Sammy. I’ll try not to think of it as the end of his babyhood, but instead as the beginning of another year, another 365 days to watch as he reveals his true, amazing self to the world.

Happy birthday, my beautiful baby.