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June 26, 2015

The End of an Era: My Daughter’s First Birthday.

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One month from Wednesday, my daughter will be a year old.

That looming first birthday, which she shares with her father, feels like a victory, like the celebratory lap around her year of life and my introductory year to motherhood. It’s the banner raised high over sleepless nights and a myriad of firsts. It also feels like a 20-pound weight that’s been placed on my stomach as I realize that my baby girl is becoming less little and that I’ve already used up a year of my allotted 18 before she goes out into the world on her own.

As I try to come up with a list of statistics and fun facts for her birthday board, all I come away with is the feeling that those things will never be able to encapsulate all that this little human is to me. It doesn’t feel like enough. This almost-year of ours has been filled with the best, hardest, most amazing, most frustrating, greatest days of my life, and all I want is for her to grow up and stay little at the same time.

I’ve learned, if nothing else, that this thing we call motherhood is a constant contradiction. I cheer her on as she takes her first steps, but quietly mourn the fact that it’s me she’s walking away from. I pray that tonight is the night that she’ll sleep for the first time in her crib, but am secretly glad when she ends up back in bed with me snuggled against my side with her hand on my cheek. I yearn for a break from her constant demands, but when I’m without her for even as long as it takes for me to shower, I miss her. There are moments that I can actually feel the time slipping through my fingers, like sand through an hourglass. I close my eyes and try to memorize the weight of her in my arms as she drifts off, head against my chest and her little hands holding the ends of my hair because I know that, one day, she won’t want to be held. She looks over her shoulder at me as she plays and shoots me a squinty-eyed, toothy grin and I think, “I need to remember this exact moment.” It comes over me like an avalanche because I know that “this too shall pass” doesn’t apply to only the hard things.

I know that in the years to come there will be thousands of little moments that will be beautiful and heartbreaking and glorious, but I’m afraid that in the cacophony of those future moments, these from her first year will be overshadowed. I’m worried that they’ll become pictures faded by time and exposure to the elements of life, and that I won’t always remember that I think her skin feels the same way my pinky finger does when it falls asleep, or that she holds her big toe away from the others when she rides on my hip. I feel myself missing her while she’s still right in front of me.

Friends and family have been asking me lately if I’m sad that soon she’ll be one. Until today, I’ve answered with a resounding “yes” for all of the obvious reasons. I’ve decided, though, as her first birthday approaches and my table becomes hidden under party supplies, to live the way I want her to learn to live: to be in the moment, to love deeply, to laugh easily, to cherish the moments as they come and to live every day like it is the best day of her life.

 

Author: Brittany Tinsley

Editor: Evan Yerburgh

Photo: Author’s Own

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Brittany Tinsley