That's right, just three more days until my baby is a year old. It feels like the biggest milestone in the world, like running through the red tape at the end of a long, long race. I can't tell you how many different people told us how many different ways that this first year would be over before we knew it, that if we blinked it would be gone. They lied, every one of them. It was a very long, very hard year that felt more like a decade. But here we are, still alive, despite all the many days I thought we wouldn't survive this baby. And he wasn't even a bad baby! We just found it unusually difficult to adapt to Life With Baby. But thank heavens we got the one we did, because he's turning into the most amazing little boy. We are SO lucky to have him. Topher laughs often, he's curious about the world, he loves animals, and his appetite has always been impressive. Yesterday he even started patting my back when I picked him up, almost as if to say, "Good job, Mommy. I'm turning out okay."
The year mark is a BIG deal. You can turn them around so they are facing forward in the car (which we've already done and it seems to suit him a lot better), you wean them off of formula and onto whole milk (which is a lot cheaper), they can basically eat anything (so we can stop avoiding peanuts and honey like the plague), and it usually means big things are coming soon. Okay, so he can't walk yet, or talk much, but we know it won't be long. I can hand him a piece of food and he can feed himself, or I can hand him a sippy cup, and he can drink. He can open cabinets and drawers, and he can pick out toys and books. He can pin down the cat (he hasn't quite mastered the "gentle" concept yet) and he can call people by holding down random buttons on my phone (that has happened quite a few times now.) He can surprise us more, that's for sure.
The point is, so much of this last year has been us helping him physically survive. But now, he's entering this phase where he's becoming a real little person. I mean, he's still all baby, don't get me wrong. One year old used to sound big to me, but now I see that it's just a bigger version of a baby, with more opportunities to get into messes. Today I had to take away from his kung-fu grasp a spray bottle of cleaner, a fluorescent lightbulb, and a stick of deodorant, just to name a few things. He really is becoming more independent, and I love to watch that happening, yet at the same time I still hold him most of the day, he needs cuddles at night and his bottle...he's still very much our little baby. Even though it was a hard year for us, Topher was worth all of it, but we can't say for sure that we'll ever do it again (ask us again in several years). We feel too lucky that it turned out as well as it did, all things considering. Maybe we're not the world's most natural parents, maybe we don't do things the way other parents do, and maybe we're making too big a deal out of the little things that other people seem to be able to brush off. But all I have to do is see that big grin of Topher's and I know that whatever we're doing is working. We're all making it as a family, and we're all learning our roles as we go. Some days I look at Topher and I have a panic moment of "Wow, I'm too young to be a mom!" even though I'm obviously not at all. Some days I feel like he was dropped into our house from a stork and I just have no idea what I'm supposed to do with him at that moment. I definitely don't have all the answers.
But even with those moments of weakness, I know that Topher was supposed to be mine. If you put me in a pitch-dark room with a thousand babies, I would find mine without any hesitation. I know his smell, I know the feel of his hair when I kiss his head, I know his voice and his grasp and his laugh. I will never know how we made something so beautiful, but everything about him is burned into my soul in a way that nothing else ever has been. His big blue eyes and his gestures, his signature snarl and the way he says "bup" for puppy and "dat" for cat, the way he snores and the way he wakes up smiling. He's amazing, and I am the one lucky enough to call him mine. I am so in love with him it hurts.
It has been an endless year, I have to say, but I cannot argue with the results. Topher, we love you so much, and in such a big way. We are so, so, SO proud of you. Whatever you become, whatever you accomplish, we love that we lived through the beginning with you. Here's to your last three days as a "baby" and your momentous transition into the world of becoming a "big boy" you gorgeous little man, you.
As the saying goes...we had each other, and then we had you, and then we had everything.