Here and There

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Happy Birthday

Dear Lillian,

On your first birthday I am sad, and happy. Mostly when I look at you today I am proud. I am proud of you for growing and adapting to your world. I am proud of every little inch of your smooth soft skin. Your brain, your starry blue eyes. Your crazy gapped teeth. I am proud that you can climb on to that weird dragon rocking thing all by yourself like you're nonchalantly climbing onto a horse. I am proud of how your sounds have changed from coos to shrieks to words. You've got a great voice. It's musical.

I've always found you incredibly charming. When you were born and I was so happy to see you I was actually taken aback..."She's so cute, isn't she?!" I said over and over. "I think she's just so cute." You were cute, but you were also so yourself, even when you were so new. You would gaze at me, you would reach out with your hands, you would shake your head like animal from the muppets right before you would eat. So crazy! You also had this look about you that was beyond me. Sometimes when you would look at me like I was the most amazing thing you'd ever seen, I would just marvel: "She thinks I'm so great, but look at her, look at her!"

I've loved watching you learn. Remembering the first time you saw things and tried to make sense of them. Candles on Christmas Eve, the way sun shows the dust suspended in the air, the cat, raindrops, snow.

I am glad you are one. But I miss Baby Lily a little bit. When you were so small, you were soft in my arms and didn't straighten your back or wriggle. When you were just a baby we would spend hours nursing, laying in bed or watching Ellen. When you were itsy bitsy you would laugh when I would sing "Whose my pretty baby?" Now you find humor in how echoey your voice is when you talk into a cup. You crawl like a little bear. You stand and clap your hands without anybody holding you up. You say things like "Balloon" and bark like a dog with such gusto and personality.

Grow little girl! Grow! I'm lucky enough to know you so well from the beginning. No matter how much you grow and change I'll have Baby Lily love to last me. So much of this last year was me trying to memorize your always changing little self. Just when I had it, you'd change. But somehow, my prize as your mom is having these blurry memories of you as a tiny baby, clear enough to be true, fuzzy enough to be even more perfect than reality. So I send you off into year two unfettered-I'll keep my nostalgia for your baby days to myself and let you grow. (Not that there's much I could do about it anyway.)


Bora said...

Happy Birthday, Lily!

I loved your sentiments, Jill, and how you brought your gift for close and apt observations to Lily's first year.

It will be a gift that will bless her for many years to come.

marguerite said...

i agree with bora -- lily will treasure this post in the future -- and your prize as a mom is both the memories of her past and enjoying the present as she grows. what a beautiful 1-year-old you have!

D said...

wonderful. and an expression of real love.

julia said...

i love everything you said! i can still remember how when Cori was born i was so in love with her and marveled at her. Each stage she went through i would say, "OH! This is my favorite stage!" and then she would grow into the next one and i would exclaim to myself, "OH! THIS is my favorite stage!" I'm so glad you're able to take in all the magic and enjoy her so much--Cori tells me stories of Lily every time she sees you, and says Lily is the cutest and most unique little one. ;-)