My dearest, darling Boyo,

Happy first birthday!!

One year and 35 hours ago, you started your epic journey out of the dark and into the light, a journey in which you very clearly had zero interest.  I must have feathered your little nest with great aplomb, because no amount of Pitocin (bags and bags full!), no amount of pushing (3.5 hours worth!) and no amount of prayer (please, god, get this effing kid out of me!) could convince you that life could be any better on the outside.  So we went in and got you.  Well, I didn’t, but I watched you being gotten in the reflection of the overhead light in the operating room. I watched the doctor turn my Death Star sized belly into an escape hatch and I felt her pull, tug, and lift you up and out of me.  I heard your tiny, tinny cry, got the thumbs up that you were healthy and hale, and then promptly passed out, finally having completed a job of work that I had started nearly two full days ten full months prior.

When I woke up, there you were.  My little poppy seed, my olive, my plum, my orange, my grapefruit, my butternut squash, my watermelon, and now, my perfectly precious baby boy, here, finally!  You had hair like a local politician, thin on top with a horseshoe-shaped shag around the back. You had downy little tufts of fur on your shoulders.  You had absolutely enormous balls.  Your eyes were almond-shaped, open, alert, and unadorned with eyelashes.  You looked so much like your Daddy.   You were so beautiful, Boyo, with your too-long-in-the-bathtub skin and your “Jesus, what just happened?!” expression.  I was so very happy to meet you.

People ask me, “Can you believe he’s turning one already? It goes so fast, doesn’t it?” And, when I tell the truth instead of responding in the way that seems desperately expected of me, I say, “Honestly, I can’t believe he’s not turning ten. Longest. Year. Of my life.” We did not have the easiest year, did we, bud? It took us a good long time to get to know each other, to warm up to one another, to find our groove. That’s okay, though.  It took us the exact right amount of time.  That’s one of the lessons you taught me, my boy.  Our journey is ours and ours alone, special and unique and exactly right.

You have taught me so much, my beautiful boy, but I think the most important lesson I’ve learned in this Year of You is that love is not fragile.  Love can take a beating.  Love absorbs the shock and awe of circumstance and stretches to accommodate us not only at our round, smooth best, but more importantly, at our jagged, ragged worst.  Thank you for that lesson, son.  Thank you for loving me the way you do.  Thank you for loving me through the time it took me to figure out how to be not just a Mama, but your Mama. Thank you for loving me even when I didn’t feel worthy of it.  Thank you especially for that.

It has been my supreme honor to watch you grow from a baby blob into a baby boy, to see your personality bloom from the nascent sparkle in your focused eyes into the sensitive, boisterous, curious, and hilarious little person that you are.  I have been paying attention, my darling son, not only because if I didn’t you’d be elbow deep in the toilet, but because you are such an interesting little man!  Watching you learn, absorb, and interact with the world is one of the most fascinating processes I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience.  By seeing through your eyes, I am rediscovering the tiny miracles of our world.  I watch you delight at the feel of grass beneath your feet, of a breeze upon your face, of sand between your fingers.  When you look at me with an expression that triumphantly exclaims, “Mama, do you see this?! Can you believe this?!” I am awash in bewildered gratitude that I am the one whose honor it is to say to you, “Show me, child.”

Show me, my darling boy.  In the days and months and years to come, show me your mess, your art, your freshly picked flower, your stick, your rock, your beauty, your music.  Show me your smile, your tears, your mad face, your silly face, your careful-or-it-will-get-suck-like-that face.  Show me your room, your books, your toys, your pride.  Show me who you are, what you want, how I can help, what I can do.  Show me how to love you best.  Show me how to be a better Mama to you.

In turn, I will show you how loving and respecting yourself opens your heart to the love and respect of the world and all her complicated beauty.  I will show you compassion and empathy and how they are the keys to understanding other people.  I will show you just how worthy you are by loving you unconditionally and disciplining you appropriately; one without the other does you no favors.  I will show you how to be kind.  I’ll show you how to make lemonade out of life’s lemons, and I’ll show you how (when lemonade just won’t do) to cut a twist and toss it into a killer martini.  I’ll show you that sometimes, all you can do, all you should do, what you MUST do, is laugh.   Most of all, my darling, I’ll show you what you showed me.  I’ll show you that when life is a question, love is the answer.

Happy birthday to you, my machushla Boyo, light of my life, pain in my ass. 🙂  I can’t wait to see what happens next!

All a mother’s love,