Happy first birthday to the sweetest, happiest, most adorable little boy! I could not be more proud to be your mommy and am incredibly blessed to have you as a permanent ray of sunshine in my life. Your smiles brighten even the darkest of moments and there is no greater miracle in life than watching your child grow before your very eyes.
I have a confession to make. I was afraid of becoming a mom. When I used to babysit, I never felt I was good with kids and honestly, I lacked the attention span to deal with their 20 questions and mundane activities. Was this the kind of mother I was destined to become? When I heard your heartbeat for the first time during my 8-week appointment, I knew instantly that loving you would be the greatest chapter in my life. One that I would embrace without hesitation or fear.
I will never forget seeing you for the very first time. Your bright eyes and beautiful face. You see, we didn't know if you were going to be a boy or a girl. The world simply knew you as "Lil Arch." Sometimes I miss being pregnant with you. For nine months, I got to hold you close, feel you kick and laugh whenever you danced to Eric Church's Creepin'. Those days when I got to hold my belly and know you were safe and right where I left you... as a mobile terror, those days of stillness and cuddling are long gone.
Since you'll never remember anything about your first year, allow me to fill you in. Right before Christmas, you became pretty sick during a very aggressive flu/RSV season. My first month of motherhood was spent rocking you in the nursery... keeping you upright, listening to you wheeze and being scared out of my mind. Remember to someday thank Aunt Z for going into Respiratory Therapy so she could teach me how to extract snot from even the farthest regions of your brain and FaceTiming in the middle of the night to watch your chest rise and fall.
Even though you were feeling pretty crummy, when you were only four days old, we caught a glimpse of that smile that can still melt my heart even now. Your smile is contagious and no one can feel anything but happiness when they see it. Your dad and I would always go into your nursery together first thing in the morning (after you slept 10-12 hours straight through... yeah buddy!) because your first smile of the day was priceless. It was my morning coffee... my personal sunshine... the reason my heart was ready to burst.
We spent nine glorious weeks of maternity leave curling up under the Christmas tree, watching it snow, visiting Grandma Z and getting in all the kisses I would miss when I had to go back to work. You loved to be in your bouncy seat and hated when it was tummy time. As you got older and stronger, the exersaucer became your new favorite hangout because you loved to jump and make as much noise as possible. When it was time to start eating solids, it was clear you had my genes when it came to having texture issues. Now you eat anything. Your favorites are most fruits, graham crackers, juice, suckers and all the lint off the floor.
You love making bird chirps, fish faces and monster noises. You fight me when it comes to wearing shoes and hats, but love your batman slippers and sleeping with a blanket wadded up around your face. You get hangry when food isn't brought to you fast enough, but Cheerios and puffs always quiet down your yelling. Zora's water bowl is your favorite thing to play with because water fascinates you. You loved playing in Grandma's pool during the summer and baths are your favorite time of the day. Changing your diaper as you got older turned into wresting an alligator doing a death roll, but the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" or letting you chew on the hairbrush/A&D tube/wipe holder/(unused) nasal aspirator could calm you down most of the time. My favorite song to sing to you is "You Are My Sunshine" and I will always cherish our snuggle times as they were few and far in between.
Zora is the best big sister you could ever ask for... minus the fact that sometimes she chews on your toys. When you were small enough to fit in the bouncy seat, you'd get super excited and let her lick the inside of your mouth. Gross? Maybe. She was building up your immune system, whatever. As your motor skills developed, you pulled so much fur out of that dog. You especially liked her long butt flaps. But she let you do it, because she loves you too. I know you two will be best buds someday.
I think you've grown up more in the last couple months than maybe I was emotionally ready for. Sure, you've always been a big boy... starting out at 9 lbs. 2 oz. is a lot of baby to lug around and is why Grandma Z and I have developed "Brody elbow." Now when I look at you... walking around the room, flipping through your books, reaching up at me calling out "Mama,"... my heart wants to cry and burst with amazement all at the same time. "Babies grow up fast" will forever be the biggest understatement. You turned into a little boy overnight.
Brody, being your mom is the most beautiful, rewarding and exhausting honor I will ever have. Having a child opens up a part of your heart that you never even knew existed. I never really knew what fear, anxiety and exhaustion were until I became a mom, but I also never understood what it meant to love another human being so much that you do anything and everything for them. I look forward to watching you grow, learn and play every single day, and although there are things I'm anxious for in the future, I never wish away these precious moments as they already come and go so quickly.
Happy birthday, Lil Man. I love you with all my heart.