Parenting

A letter to my daughter on her first birthday

Katie writes a letter to Sophie to mark the occasion of her first birthday.

To Soph, on her first birthday.

My darling Sophie,

I was thinking about this letter last night, when you woke up at midnight and wouldn’t go back to sleep — when you snuggled into my shoulder, your mop of hair tickling my face, your little hand fisted in my fuzzy blue bathrobe — trying to figure out just what to write about this first year in your life, in our life as a family. Your Nonna once told me that when the heart is full, the words are few — I believe that, and, as a result, it means I have to dig deeper and reflect longer to really say what I really want to say.

When I was in my first year of university (before I’d even met Daddy!), I had a professor who was all about using the ordinary to express the extraordinary. He wrote a poem comparing his love for his wife to how she tended her tomato plants — all of the things he loved about her, he could see as she planted and cultivated her garden. At the time, I remember thinking that tomatoes were completely unromantic, but now I know, from almost nine years with your dad and now our first year with you, that it’s the everyday moments that fill my heart up. I finally understand the tomato plants and can recognize them in my own life.

I love the way you size everything up. From the first moments in the delivery room, with your eyes wide open and drinking it all in, to the fish and the polar bears at the zoo last weekend, to the hilarious evil eye you give when someone new wants to hold you, your curiosity is expansive and astounding.

I love that you pull all the clean, folded laundry out of the basket (and then you put it all back so you can do it again). No, seriously. I don’t put the clothes away after I’m finished folding just so I can watch you. Yes, I realize this is counterproductive, but I don’t care.

I love that you shiver when you try new food. And then how you open your mouth as wide as you can to get another bite when it’s a hit, or shake your head like crazy to tell us when you don’t like it.

I love that you wave at strangers. On early Saturday mornings in the grocery store, that little wave is a game-changer. Sour-faced, tired people suddenly light up and stop to say hello to this little blond girl with the Pebbles-esque ponytail on the top of her head.

I love that your favourite bath toy is a measuring cup. And that you use said measuring cup to dump your bath water on the bathroom floor. I don’t tell you that I love that — you’ve been scolded time and again — but I do.

I love that you think speakerphone is funny. Maybe you’ll take after your chatty mommy and spend your teenage years on the phone. (Doubtful, given the eight million ways kids talk to each other these days without actually speaking, but you never know.)

I love that you love books. And I love that you’ll listen to Dr. Suess’s ABCs or On The Night You Were Born over and over again.

I love that you stop whatever you’re doing when you hear music. We’ve seen that little bop you’re trying out these days and can’t wait for you to really figure out how to dance. (Don’t take lessons from your dad, okay? We’ll get Nonna and your auntie Sarah to teach you.)

I love that you’ll give 10 kisses in a row as long as we say “Thank you for the kisses!” in a high-pitched voice. I even love that the kisses are slobbery.

I could go on and on, Soph, but the bottom line is that I love you for the joy you bring to even the smallest things. In the same year of university as the tomato plants, I studied a poem by e.e. cummings — now made slightly more famous by Cameron Diaz (an actress who will be in her 50s when you actually care about this letter) — that seems to speak volumes about my own definition of love. He wrote:

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Happiest birthday wishes, Soph. You have made our lives so very, very sweet. I carry your heart, little girl. I carry it in my heart.

All my love,
Mommy