Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Charlotte!

Well, I knew this day was coming.

Charlotte is one year old today, and, just as foretold, it came far too quickly.

I'll be honest, though, the first four months or so, kinda dragged. I was in awe of her, in disbelief that I was finally a parent, in heaven with her tiny little limbs tucked under her body as she slept on my chest. It was beautiful and perfect and amazing.

But, it was also BORING.

I mean, we waited months for the first smile. A SMILE. I guess I take them for granted now, so the idea of holding my breath for a curving of the lips seems ridiculous. And now that she is is running all over the house (and everywhere else), I can scarcely believe that we were so worked up over her rolling over for the first time. She was lovely, but her activity level and particular state of alertness resembled that of a potato. She was Potato Baby.
A very cute potato, I might add.

There were just days and days of staring at her as she slept in her bassinet or watching her for cues of recognition Did she just look at me? Oh my God, I think she just...made eye contact! when we talked to her. There were eons of me sitting on the couch, nursing her while watching reruns of The Office, then feeling guilty for not staring at her in wonderment, turning the T.V. off, getting bored again, and then beginning to text.

Don't get me wrong. I loved every minute. The day she finally rolled over, I cheered and clapped and scared the hell out of her. And sometimes, I DID marvel at her while she nursed. Some of the simplest moments were the ones that overwhelmed me with love for this person I had waited so long to bring into my life.
Photo by Little Blue World Photography

But, at the same time, I was so eager for the next step, always. I had read that it was important to live in the moment, enjoying the stage your child was in without worrying about the next step. I tried to comply, but it was so hard not to look ahead in eager anticipation of what was to come. It felt wrong, like looking at the last page of a book you're reading, but I couldn't help fantasizing about watching her toddle around on the beach or putting pigtails in her hair and feeding her cookies. In my mind, I was cheating on Potato Baby!

Now that we're here in Toddlerville, I do have moments of longing for the simpler days in Newbornland. I sometimes wish I could just hold her as long as I want, whenever I want, instead of trying to wrestle a simple hug out of her. Photo by Little Blue World Photography

Ever since I was a kid, my mom has periodically looked at me and wistfully exclaimed that she remembers how I used to sleep "right here" as she indicates with her hands the small space on her chest I previously occupied. I thought of that last night as Charlotte's feet were dangling off of my legs in the rocker chair tonight. She is already getting so big, and I can't believe one day I will be telling her about how she used to sleep "right here" as she pack up her room and goes to college.

I remember having a feeling when I was pregnant with Charlotte that she was going to be, shall we say, willful, when she would kick me every time I tried to lean over and rest my head on my desk at work. It was like she was going out of her way to prevent me from getting any rest and to make sure I was constantly reminded of her.

Well, it's been over a year, and I must say, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. This kid is on the go from the minute she wakes up to the nanosecond I place her in her crib at night, depositing her toys in locations all over the house, following me into the bathroom where she pulls everything out of the cabinet while I do my makeup, coming into the kitchen while I cook so she can splash in the dog's water and try to eat food off the floor, and basically demanding to be involved in everything I do.

And it's great.

Her dad and I are exhausted, but we spend all day laughing at her baby talk, glowing with pride as she figures out how to stack her cups or learns one of her colors. Her brain is growing as fast as her feet, (Seriously? How many times do I have to buy you new socks?) and it is incredible to watch.

Still, excited as I am by the prospects life with a toddler will bring, I will always be looking back over my shoulder just a little bit, missing the days when all she needed was to be in my arms. I'll spend the summer taking her to beaches, aquariums, hiking trips, and play dates, and I'll remember how I couldn't wait to do these things when I was in the midst of a marathon nursing session with a baby too little to wear sunscreen.

But, I won't ever forget how wonderful it was to take pleasure in the seemingly tiny milestones: the first smile, the first time she grabbed something with her fist, the first time she lifted her head up. It may not be as exciting as brushing her own teeth, but it was amazing because it was her.
Photo by Little Blue World Photography

So, as I celebrate Charlotte's first birthday, I will try to enjoy every second of her as she is now, while forging ahead, only occasionally glancing in the rear view mirror when I see a little bald baby in the store that reminds me of what I have lost.

I probably won't get it right. But, there's always the next baby...


  1. Oh, I shouldn't read things like this at work, now I'm all teary and such. What a beautiful tribute to YOUR first year as Charlotte's momma!

  2. Happy birthday, Lotte. And Congrats on that first year, Megs. She is such a wonderful little bundle. Great pictures.

  3. Congratulations to both of you on your first year! She's a looker, your kid! :)

  4. Oh, this post made me all teary. Happy, happy birthday, Charlotte- and Megan! I promise you that the next few months are just as cool as you've hoped they might be. I was just like you - not a huge fan of the newborn stage (LMAO at "cheating on potato baby...you're funny, lady!) and always skipping ahead in the baby books to see what was up next. So the nostalgia hit me hard the night before my son's first birthday.. I was holding him in the rocker and just started crying. It was so weird.

    Anyway, I am loving the toddler stage, even though the temper tantrums aren't the greatest. It's so cool to see them become more human-like by the day.

    Congrats on a great first year. And I can't wait to actually meet this kid - I bet Charlotte and FC will get along VERY well.

  5. Megan, Charlotte is way too cute! Congrats to you on being a Mom for a year and being a great one!

  6. Thanks, all!

    Perpetua, Granted, I've only seen the top of E's head, but he has AWESOME hair.

    FFF, good to know I have so much to look forward to. And I can't wait to see how our kids interact, as well. I bet it will be cute overload! :)

  7. Aw, happy birthday Charlotte! I know what you mean about just wanting to hold them and get a hug and they're all, sorry, I'm out of here Mom!