Elly, I was quite inspired by your friend T’s mother who wrote a moving letter to her on her first birthday.
Thinking that such memories will be essential as you get older, here is a letter of my own, written a week or so after you’ve been here for a year…(and this is the birth story that I will love to tell you on the morning of your birthday every single year because you entered this world with such love and light).
Time has a funny way of operating: it seems to speed up or slow down without any notice. Before you know it, months have passed. That’s how this year has gone. When Goddi and I brought you home, your personality was already starting to bloom. Nowadays, you tend to be relatively mellow, even “chill” as some might describe you. I’ve worked really hard to understand you (it’s a work in progress, as you’ll attest to), but I think I can tell when you need to connect and let me know what you need. I try to listen. TRY.
You like to be worn around. I’ve carried you in your carrier from birth, practically. In the early days, I’d put you in that Maya wrap and walk around the block, (sometimes multiple times), just to get outside, or to get an iced coffee from McDonald’s. You didn’t mind. As long as you were snuggled inside, we could have walked from Boston to Kentucky. And because you attended day care, and I knew I wouldn’t see you for some time, holding you close was even more important to me. In the fall, you slept as soon as you were strapped in and we left the house, and I was able to sometimes doze off on our subway rides to school, but as you got older, you were much more interested in the world. Now, you regularly point, chat, smile and wave to our fellow passengers, many of whom marvel that I still continue to wear you every day. Believe me, darling boy, I’ll wear you as long as I can.
While we have bouts with the cranks (which completely throw me for a loop because they don’t happen all that often), for the most part, you are an easy-going baby. We’ve been on several airplane trips: to Kentucky twice (at three months and then at six months), to D.C. (at six months), and to San Francisco and to North Carolina (at eight months). For all of those trips, you slept most of the time, delighted with looking out the window and walking through the airports, and enjoyed seeing family and friends and sampling food in San Fran. I hope we can continue to enjoy our travels, as I’d like us to see more of the world as you grow. Your inquisitiveness makes even the most mundane of days an adventure.
You started attending First Steps day care in September, when I returned to school after our first summer together. It seemed you adjusted immediately. You like your teachers (and I know you have your favorites–it happens) and look forward to seeing them daily. They have introduced you to some “magical” foods: you LOVE those Puffs! There is something comforting about knowing we are in the same building. My students–former and current–often tell me that they see you about the building with your friends; those reports offer me comfort during what can be otherwise very long days.
The day care mentioned that you are a quick study: they can show you how to do something once and you can take it from there. I’ve also noticed that you have intense focus: you like to laser in on something and spend a good long time playing with it or watching it. I find it remarkable that someone of your age is that interested in what I tend to overlook.
Which brings me to the lessons I am learning as I try to be your mama. You know I can be impatient at times, but I’m learning to breathe, take my time and connect with you. I cannot count the amount of times I’ve folded right on the floor beside you as you tell me to “look” and you play with something you like. You make me notice the moments. You enable me to play with time: when I am with you, nothing else matters, and time seems to slow down: Elliott Time! Just you, just me. Just that moment. I have never been more grateful that you arrived. That you chose me. That every day begins and ends with you.
I’m happy to sense that you are a developing bibliophile. We try to read every day and you have books you already enjoy: ones about sheep, I Am So Brave (and when we get to a particular page, you wave with the characters), and a rotating selection. You often crawl or cruise over to your books and sit and narrate your own stories. Of all that you are and can do, I will admit that this love of books makes me the most proud. I hope I can continue to read with you every single day and that we can build your library, and that you can find yourself reflected and stretched by texts of all sorts (even if that means I have memorized your favorite books and can recite them from memory at a moment’s notice).
You tackle milestones at your own pace. You started crawling when you were eleven months old. You began rolling over when you wanted to get something that seemed out of reach. I imagine you’ll begin walking when your time is right, and not a minute before. There it is again: Elliott Time.
Finally, you are emerging as a boypie that seems content to enjoy time with people. We spent Sundays with Auntie at the SoWa Market, had dinners with Goddi, brunch with your local baby friends and innumerable jaunts with Lillie. You are coming to know Boston as your home, with so many friends and family who are in our lives. They are what matter, truly, as we celebrate your first year in the world, because they lift us up every day, letting us know that we are not alone.
There you have it, my dear baby boy. What has been the fastest year of my life has been filled with such goodness because of you. Thank you for all of it. Every single bit. Now, this bit of a song I sing to you at moments when you are drifting off to sleep and I want to hold you just a bit longer before putting you down for the night (of course it’s about pie, and baking :-)).
From “Baby Don’t You Cry (Pie Song)” by Quincy Coleman
Baby don’t you cry, gonna make a pie
Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle
Baby don’t be blue
Gonna make for you
Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle…
Hold you forever in the middle of my heart.