Saturday, November 15, 2008

1 year

Dear Alli,

Happy birthday, little girl! How is it possible that you're 1? I've been scratching my head all week wondering where the time went.

But when we're in the guest room and the computer goes to screen-saver mode and starts scrolling through all your photos, I realize just how much you've changed. We sit there together, talk about "baby Allison" and marvel at how different you looked each month.

I just hope I cherished all of those moments enough.

A few days ago, I was standing in line at the deli while getting our groceries for the week and the man in front of me was telling the woman behind the counter all about his new little girl. He was rattling off her birth stats and I couldn't help but smile. Never one to shy away from a conversation, I congratulated him and told him he was in for one of the most interesting years of his life.

But after his order was filled and he walked away, I couldn't help but think there is no way to convey to someone with a new baby what lies ahead. All of the adjectives in every language on the planet couldn't describe all of the ways you developed and grew and affixed yourself to my life and my heart and my being.

Just by being you.


As usual, the changes abounded this month. The most exciting thing is that you've developed a sense of humor. You now know what it means to be funny, and apparently you've inherited your father's desire to make people laugh.

I'm not exactly sure how it started, but I was holding you in my arms one afternoon and we spent a good five minutes taking turns sticking our tongues out at each other. You would do it, I would laugh, then I would do it and you would laugh. It continued for so long that, by the end, we were both laughing so hard and loud that we had to stop and catch our breath.

I can honestly say that I have never laughed so freely and genuinely at something so simple.

You also started initiating peek-a-boo this month -- and crack yourself up in the process.

Dad had just gotten home from work and we were all sitting in the hallway, tossing a stuffed carrot to Toby when you crawled into the bathroom and got behind the door to play with the springy doorstopper. When you were out of sight, we asked, "Where's Allison? Where'd she go?"

At once, you peeked into view with a huge grin on your face, laughed and swung the door shut. Dad and I looked at each other expectantly, wondering whether you'd do it again, when we heard another giggle. Then you opened the door and peered out, squealing. And closed the door again.

You constantly remind me to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.


You also started walking this month. Placing one foot in front of the other. On your own.

You have been doing it with assistance for awhile now. I try to encourage it by making you walk from room to room rather than carrying you. You are so excited by your new skills that you screech when I grab both of your hands. Then you take off before I can even point you in the direction we need to go.

When I take one hand away, you continue to walk a little more cautiously, but only with the goal of getting my other hand back. You keep going, arm outstretched, unable to understand why I wouldn't just give it to you.

Believe me, I would like nothing more than to be there to hold your hand forever, figuratively if not literally, but sometimes it means doing what's best to help you grow.

And it paid off last week.

We had just gotten up for the morning and you stood in the center of the guest room amid all your toys, smiled and took three steps toward me in your footed pajamas.

It's a good thing Dad and Toby were still sleeping because I probably would've scared you with the cheer that wanted to erupt out of me. Instead I just clapped and hugged you close. I know someday those steps will be going in the other direction, so I want you to know that I'm reveling in the fact that your first ones were motivated by your desire to get closer to me.


We also started attending a weekly play group at the library. You are by far the youngest one there, but you don't seem to notice or care.

The very first day you crawled out of my lap, went up to another little girl and handed her the toy you had been playing with. One of the other moms, whose son is the next youngest, kept remarking how outgoing and social you are. I had been worried that lack of interaction with other kids would inhibit your social skills, but like many things already, you've proven me wrong.

Most of the other kids stick close to their grandma or mom, but you crawl freely around the room, inspecting things, using other people's legs to stand up, handing toys to the big kids, patting heads and sharing your smile.

Everyone remarks what a happy little girl you are.

I'd like to think that I had something to do with it, but most of that is just you, Alli. You seem to have a very special gift -- a caring and constantly sunny disposition. Even if you lose it on occasion, I hope you're always able to summon it when you need it most.


You also attended your first concert this month. I know, it sounds absolutely crazy. And, believe me, we questioned whether or not you'd even understand what was going on, let alone enjoy it. But when Dad got free box seat tickets to see the Wiggles, well, we couldn't resist.

After all, you're crazy about music.

So we put you in the car and hoped for the best. The box had all sorts of fresh fruit, so we knew we'd have a fallback if anything went horribly awry. If there's anything you love more than music, it's melon.

But when the Wiggles took the stage, you were completely enamored. So much so that I was able to ignore the fact that I've traded concerts by Grammy Award-winning artists for creepy, overly enthusiastic middle-aged men singing about their lame-ass car. It was so fun watching you take it all in.

Dad hoisted you on top of the table in front of us and you bopped to the beat, clapping and smiling and otherwise just being completely adorable. Even among all of the older kids in the box who clearly had an understanding of who the Wiggles were, I would bet anything that you enjoyed it the most.

And we didn't even have to shell out 19 bucks for a glowing rainbow wand.


Allison, I've been looking forward to writing this letter all year. It's absolutely unfathomable to me that I was pacing the halls of a hospital one year ago, anxiously awaiting your arrival. There are parts of that day that will forever be ingrained in my memory, but most of all the moment I got to look at your face for the first time.

Anyone who doesn't believe in love at first sight hasn't had a child.

I had no idea what I was in for when you came into our lives, but any expectations I had about what parenthood would be like were far exceeded. You've given me purpose. My life has more meaning than it ever did before. Of all the jobs I've had in the past and even those yet to come, none will be more important than being your mother.

And in exchange, you've allowed me a second chance. An opportunity to experience everything for the first time all over again. What used to be mundane is now something to explore -- textures, sounds, lights, colors and flavors. I'm enjoying things I haven't paid attention to in years.

So, yes, this day is for you. And it always will be. I can't wait to watch you squish cake in your hair and ignore your presents in exchange for eating the wrapping paper. But every year as we sing to you, I won't just be celebrating the day you came into this world. I'll be celebrating having you in my life.




freedomcome said...

that was an amazing and beautiful post. I can't wait to have kids.

Alyson said...

i read you all the time. your writing is great, because it is lucid and pure, like the best journalism, but lyric like the best fiction. my only sister, whom i love more than anything, is having a baby in march. it is SO nice to read about someone recounting the details of parenthood accurately. i just hope i'm a good enough aunt.

thanks so much for your candor and compassion.

Ray said...

Wow, Kelly! AWESOME letter to Allison as always. But this one really tops the cake! I cannot believe it has been already a year. Time does not only fly but it ZOOMS by! I am so happy for you and Jerry today. Happy that you have Allison as an addition to your family to celebrate life with. It may be only the three of you but you have an awesome family. Okay the four of you, I can't forget Toby. ;o)

"Anyone who doesn't believe in love at first sight hasn't had a child..."

^^I am not a mother but when both of my two little cousins Sammy & Alyssa (who are both brother and sister) were born, I instantly fell in love with them. I think though that when I see my own child (if I ever have children) it'll be something much deeper. Still, I can say with absolutely certainty that when I saw my cousins for the first time at the hospital, "It was instant love."

Allison is so lucky to have you for her mother. And once again I am SO HAPPY for you! Have a FABULOUS time later on today!

<3 <3 <3

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Alli!

As I approach being 6 months pregnant I can't help but look forward to writing my own letter like this to my little girl.

the_plainsman@xanga said...

Besides being a beautifuly written post Allison will cherish someday, it also seems the most refective and introspective.

"...I know someday those steps will be going in the other direction, so I want you to know that I'm reveling in the fact that your first ones were motivated by your desire to get closer to me..."

I do not know how anyone could better sum up the experience of being a parent in only one sentence.

chelsea said...

I have read all the letters and this is the first time it actually has me tearing up. Happy Birthday Allison!

Timberly said...

Happy Birthday, Alli. Can't wait to see the two of you in 1 1/2 weeks. Yay!

Anonymous said...

can't wait to see you at xmas!!!
jax is excited to meet his future girlfriend!
loffe me

Anonymous said...

whoops i meant turkey day! not xmas.
loffe me

Erin in Scranton said...

Absolutely lovely, Kelly. Congrats on her (and your!) big day.

Ray said...

OK (I have to add this):

"All of the adjectives in every language on the planet couldn't describe all of the ways you developed and grew and affixed yourself to my life and my heart and my being. Just by being you."

^^That was SO POWERFUL! So beautiful! Wow.

Sarah & Courtney said...

yay! happy birthday, allison!

Anonymous said...

That was so beautiful!!

Happy Birthday Alli!! You're lucky to have such great parents. :o)

sarahhhh said...

awesome letter. ali is very lucky to have parents who recognizes all her beauty and special ways. happy birthday ali!!

NatalieDeltaGam said...

oh kel,
that was the best letter you've written yet. it made me teary eyed, i admit. happy birthday, alli!!!

Mistress said...

Awww a year! I can't believe it...I've been following for so long. Happy B-day, Allie! Enjoy it!


Gabriela said...

Happy Birthday Allison!!!
This was such a beautiful post and you write so beautifully.

Bitchy Mom said...

Happy Birthday Alli!!!

Jennifer Suarez said...

Beautiful post. Allison is lucky to have such a wonderful Mom (and Dad)

Your monthly letters are always great, but this one was extra special. I'm sure Allison will cherish it.

Happy birthday baby girl!!!!

Rachel said...

geez, way to make me tear up at work! My daughter turned 1 at the end of September, and it is amazing how fast that time passed... You summed it up perfectly.

Anonymous said...

Your little girl is beautiful. I have been reading your posts since you switched over from xanga (2 years ago or so?) and followed your story through your miscarriage and pregnancy and now with your daughter. I just had a miscarriage, and reading your story gives me hope that I will have a beautiful healthy baby of my own someday. Your little girl is very lucky to have a loving mom like you.

caughtinlimbo said...

I love your writing and that was an amazing letter. I've been reading you for years, but I don't think I've ever commented.

I felt the need, however, to do so in this case. I wanted to make you aware that "lame," when used negatively, is a term that is oppressive to people with disabilities. It is along the same lines as "gay." I know that this is a battle that I'll never win, but I'd like to spread the word to the greatest extent to try and work against all types of oppression. Most people don't make the connection between "lame" and people with disabilities, and use this oppressive term completely by accident, without realizing what they are implying.

Thank you for your brilliant writing, and I hope you understand my intent in writing this message.

Oh, and congratulations =)