A few nights ago I was looking at photographs of you, just barely minutes old, and my heart raced inside of me. There you were, all swollen and pink with tiny little eyes peeking up at me for the first time, and I felt like I was there again in that hospital room, holding you, cooing in your ear, the happiest person on the face of the earth. Being in a moment is so different than remembering it; I can’t explain it (no one can), but there’s something about reliving life-changing moments in our lives that makes them even more real than when we’re actually going through them; the emotions, the colors, the details – they all seem so much more alive when we look back. And tonight I looked back at you, the first time I saw you and held you, and for once I felt more alive.
And then, in the dark of night, I heard a faint cry from your nursery.
I picked you up to comfort you, to rock you, but your cries had caught me in a moment of remembering, and so it was as if I took those first moments of your life that I had been reliving and brought them with me into that room. There, in the blackness, with your head laid on my shoulder, your weight heavy in the crook of my arm, it was as if you were brand new all over again. I closed my eyes to make the darkness complete, and as I rubbed your back through your fleece footie pajamas, you felt smaller than you have in a long time. Your faint breaths were even fainter against my cheek; your flubby little hands even tinier as they clawed into my shoulder, begging for me not to let go of you. The exhaustion of the past few months caught up to me in an instant, and in the silence of your nursery I pushed past that blind tiredness and rocked you with everything in me, just like I did in those early days of your life.
How has it been a whole year already? How have 365 days passed since they placed you on my chest for the first time? It doesn’t seem possible, but I guess that’s how it’s supposed to feel.
Cricket, I love you so much it hurts. You are my little sidekick in life, and I don’t know what I’d do without you. You and E.V. are meant to be best friends, I know, but right now she and I are sharing you as best we can. Most of our time is spent cuddling with you and doting on you, playing and teaching, giggling and tickling; our family is in love with you, and you make us complete. Thank you for that. What a big responsibility for such a tiny person – although it’s already very clear that your heart and your personality are anything but tiny!
At one year old, you are eager to be held and loved. You hate to be alone, and I can’t blame you because I hate to be away from you. Everyone who meets you adores you; one of your infamous grins and people are captivated by you. (You have certainly earned your nickname, Smiles!) People stop me everywhere we go to tell me how cute you are. Just a few days ago a total stranger embarrassedly told me that she had seen you “around” and that you were the cutest baby she’d ever seen, and then less than an hour later a waiter said that you and E.V. were the cutest kids who had EVER come into his restaurant – EVER. I always just grin because of course I agree with them! Your sister is looking more and more like your daddy, but you, Cricket, you are all mine. When I see your tiny, almond-shaped eyes and sloped little nose, I feel this strange sense of pride, like your resembling me in any sort of way makes you even more mine than before. Now if only those eyes will finish their transition to brown…although I do love the greenish-gray color they’re in right now. It’s one of the most beautiful eye colors I’ve ever seen.
Cricket, you are so smart and funny and full of personality that it kills me! You talk ALL. THE. TIME. and know more words than I can count, although at this exact moment in time your favorite word is “cat,” and you call everything a cat and think it’s hilarious. (Which, I must admit, it kinda’ is…) You can say mama, dada, emma, dog, baba, book, nose, hey, bye – and a slew of other words that you randomly pick up. You love to wave, and when you do, it’s this exaggerated Miss America-style gesture that’s always accompanied by a big grin; people absolutely die when they get a wave from you! You also love to clap, jump and play patty cake – and chase around after your sister! You aren’t fully walking quite yet, which has been a huge surprise. You crawled so early that we were certain you’d be walking at nine months, but here we are at your first birthday, and you just took your first steps last week. There have been a few steps here and there since then, but you’re definitely not strutting around quite yet. I can’t blame you, though, because it’s so much faster for you to crawl, and when you have a dress on, you crawl Tarzan-style on hands and feet so as not to miss a moment of fun! I suppose you’re also a little monkey-like because you LOVE to climb, and I often find you sitting in the play sink or on the highest point of the sofa, happy and proud of your accomplishment. Also, this month we started letting you really climb the stairs, and you are a natural!
Little one, you love to play! You want to be outside all the time (and often try to crawl out there anytime the door is open!) and have a wonderful sense of adventure already. Your current favorite thing to do is read books, and you spend a lot of time kneeling beside the book bin, digging out new ones to look through. You also love barbies and babies, and oftentimes you’ll dig around the stuffed animals to find one or the other. There are times I can barely get them out of your grip you love them so, and on more than a few occasions we’ve had to drag them along with us to bathtime or errands simply to avoid tears. (And you rarely cry, so it’s worth it!)
It’s funny because I spent so much of my time worrying about what your sister ate, how much she ate, when she ate – and life is so hectic around here lately that we always seem to be snacking on the go, which means that you’ve become a very flexible eater. We still call you Cricket Compactor because you’re not picky at all, but you definitely have a preference for cheese, strawberries, cucumbers, turkey, yogurt, chocolate (from your sister’s potty training stash), coconut popsicles and pancakes. Right now we’re still nursing (and you aren’t happy to start the weaning process) and are currently working on switching from supplemental formula to milk. You’re tall and thin (or were as of your last doctor’s appointment), so I just keep feeding you in hopes that you’re getting enough to keep that hot body growin’ right, haha!
Our days are spent mostly carting E.V. around to her activities and running errands, but you hate to sit still and spend most of the time on my hip or in my lap (and you refuse to sit in a high chair, which makes for interesting meal times for me). You start every day around 6 or 7 a.m., but are a bit lazy and slow until your sister gets up at 7:30. Most days you still take a mid-morning nap around 10 a.m., but you’ve been trying to drop it. You always take a very long (two- or three-hour) second nap around 12:30 each day, usually in mommy and daddy’s bed. (Shhh! Don’t tell!) During that time Emma Vance typically sleeps a little bit as well, and it’s my mid-day break to close my eyes as well, whether that means I pass out or just have kid-free thoughts for a few minutes. By 8 p.m. you are ready for bed, and you love to be jiggled to sleep in your crib while you curl up on your belly, just like you are right now. Sigh.
Oh, my sweet little Cricket, my Smiles, my Cricketkit, my Crickie. I can’t remember our lives, my life, without you in it, and I don’t want to. The past year has been amazing and watching you grow into the person you’re destined to be has been so fulfilling. I know that you are going to do such wonderful things with your time here on earth, and I can’t wait to see what your passions are, who you impact, what your legacy will be. You are smart and beautiful and loving and fun and kind – and only a year old.
You bring us so much joy. We wanted you so very much, Cricket. We prayed for you and are praying for you. I want to hold onto you so tightly and never let go, to cuddle and hug you, to protect you from the big, bad world out there. I have this selfish dream that you’ll be a mama’s girl forever, that you’ll stay little forever and I’ll never have to deal with you moving away or saying goodbye. Our lives would be so less without you, so thank you for everything you are to us, to me.
I love you more than you’ll ever know – at least until the day they place your own daughter on your chest for the first time, then perhaps this will all finally make sense. Happy first birthday, my Crickie.
Mom (and Dad and E.V.)