We made it a year, you and I.

It wasn’t always easy, and to be honest, it wasn’t love at first sight.

I’m supposed to be teaching you things, letting you experience your world. Instead, you have taught me things, and allowed me to experience your world.

I was indifferent while I was pregnant with you. If I had never gotten to have children, it wouldn’t have bothered me, although I always figured I would someday.

The day you were born was a rainy, cold day in early September. I had labored for days on round after round of Pitocin, I was frustrated, and when you finally decided you wanted to have a birthday, you came like a freight train. Someone there told me I had had one of the most painful labors, the way Pitocin works. But I had you without being drugged, and initially I felt like a supermom. I’m a reader and a planner and I wanted to give you the best start.  Against all odds, I had at least accomplished that.

Postpartum depression is a tricky, silent snake Olivia, and it works differently in everyone. For me, when we took you home and I power pumped all night long for over three months to try to get anything for you but failed and you screamed because you were so hungry so I had to face the guilt and turn to formula-I was indifferent. I did everything I could for you because that’s what I was supposed to do. I didn’t feel, I just checked off items I figured would be on the “supposed to do as a mom” list. I came from a background of constant work, independence, and moving, and found myself at home with someone I couldn’t talk to and who couldn’t do anything. I went through the motions as a mother, for four months.

You looked at me, one cold day in January from your booster seat, blanket rolled around you to prop you up, and giggled at me for the first time.

You’ve always been so patient with me, throughout this past year.

They say that God places children to be nurtured by the parent they need, in a way that only that parent can.

That’s backwards. God gave me a first child who somehow knew I was struggling. He doused her in patience and a constantly happy personality. You have always been known for flashing your smiles.

People come to you, just for your smile. They need it that day, and knew you’d happily oblige. They still come to you.

You were about six months old, when I finally figured out that I could do this, that I could try to be at least a fraction of the mother you deserved. I started to play games with you, snuggle you, and enjoy you at times. I still wanted you to do your thing, so I could do mine, and although no one can claim I’m a helicopter mom, there was a time when you were around six months old that I wished more than anything you would just fall asleep in my arms and not have to be put to bed and left alone. You rolled over and I knew you were determined, with or without my help. You’ve always been so determined to experience your world.

You were around nine months old when I started to love being your mom.  I distinctly remember a day when I actually saw you and recognized you as being a fun little person.  It’s still a work in progress to be honest…but because of you, we’re getting there.

Through it all, your smile never wavered. It’s like you never knew the difference. The guilt and shame I feel over how I failed to fully love you like all of the other whimsical moms I read about-you don’t see it. You see your mom, who makes killer peanut butter toast for lunch because you love it, reads all the coolest stories, and is sure to point out all the puppies on walks because they’re your favorite. The failures I see every day, you simply don’t.

I showed you independence, forced alone play, and allowed you an imagination. You showed me the joy of taking the time to dance like only you are watching, forced me to take the time to snuggle you to sleep when all you wanted to do was play through tired tears, and allowed me the time to discover the deepest love for you.

You broke me, and then put me back together this last year. I am so thankful to you.

Together, you and I, we will persevere through our years, and you will always remind me that there is always time to smile.

A Letter to My Daughter on Her First Birthday - GrowingSpangs.com

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