APRIL 2, 2017 ONE years old

Well, my baby turned one years old.

Chris and I woke up at 7:30 (Everett slept in!) and the sun was sneaking into our room through the curtains–everything looked so beautiful in the morning light. I stretched out under the covers, looked at my husband and said, “Hug me,” in my cutest voice. It’s the one Chris loves. And we cuddled for a few moments, until he said, “It’s snuggy boo’s birthday! Come on!”

We went into Everett’s room, the video camera in Chris’s hand, and switched on the lights, saying happy birthday baby boy! in somewhat of a unison. Everett had a confused look on his face, but once his eyes adjusted to the light, he stood up holding his blanket, smiling ear to ear–his Mama and Dada were there to see him, and he couldn’t have been happier.

After breakfast, we opened his presents from last night’s party. I don’t know if I told you anything about what we were doing for it, but Rich and Judy had the family over their house, catered by a local gyro place we like to frequent.

The food was excellent, the company was comfortable and Everett was the center of all the love and attention he could stand.

How wonderful it is to know your child is so loved, by so many people.

He got a tee pee from Dad and Terri. Grandma and Papap and Uncle Jared and Aunt Sara got him a zoo pass for the year. Saus and Wes got him a play lawn mower that blows bubbles–he can cut the grass this summer with Chris (how cute).

From Chris’ side of the family he got some cool new toys and a few outfits. Nana and Aunt Jessica provided him a mini shopping spree at Old Navy a few weeks ago, too–so the little dude is set!

He has been taking steps. The most he’s done is four. You would think he was walking on water for how proud he gets–it is the cutest thing ever, watching him try and then succeed, looking up at me like, Mama did you see that!? 

I melt. The first time he tried to walk to me, I balled. I couldn’t help it. I was so proud.

I let him play in his room now, alone–well, with Clifford, too. The dog just sits there and watches Everett, wishing he could eat all those fun stuffed animals and cardboard baby books. I can’t even tell you how many toys have been lost to the dog.

But when I shower, if I peek outside the curtain, I can see right into his room while he’s playing. I put a gate on the door to close off his little play space, and do my thing from twenty feet away. It’s fantastic. I mean, it doesn’t last too long, but just enough time to allow me that enjoyment in the mornings. When I get that “alone” time, I think this will be impossible when a second baby comes along, making me certain I’m not ready yet for another one.

Speaking of–I had a dream last night that Chris and I were at this huge outdoor party. I don’t know what people were doing there, but we were outside this big house, on the grass, with lots and lots of people. Like an outdoor concert or something. And somehow I ended up holding this little boy, about two years old.

Apparently no one wanted him and I said I would adopt him?

Hours later in this dream (which was realistically really just two seconds) I was calling for you, saying, “Mom…Mom…Mom..has anyone seen my mother?” Like the little bird in that book I read to Everett, who leaves his nest too early.

And I could feel that bit of frantic panic, not knowing where you were. You were still alive in the dream, but the party was just too big, and I couldn’t find you.

I wanted to tell you that I wasn’t ready to take this little boy–that I still wanted it to be just Everett and I. But I felt guilty not taking him because no one would.

A hippy couple somehow came along and said they’d love to take the boy, and I felt relief–both in the dream and for real as I slept. Like, thank god—not yet, not yet. 

That dream is weird for two reasons.

One: the whole thing about not wanting another kid just yet and the guilt I felt. I know that dream was telling me something, almost confirming that my “plan” to wait for the second baby is a good one–that I’m not doing anything wrong because I’m not ready. Sometimes I feel that way, and I don’t know why.

Two: not being able to find you was troubling. The lost panic in my body felt so terrible and so desperate. I was scared.

And sometimes I still feel scared about where you are. Sometimes I want to ask people, hey, do you know where Jenifer Norris went? She was that beautiful blonde with four kids–yea, that one–the one who died of breast cancer at age thirty-nine. 

But I know that no one knows. Everyone has theories, everyone has beliefs. No one truly knows. And that is frustrating as shit. Sorry for the language, but it is.

There are days when I feel where you are. And I believe in these beautiful books and words I read, feeling connected and peaceful about your constant presence.

There are days when I think all of it is a bunch of nonsense, and that you really are just gone, unable to help me, unable to know Everett, unable to reach me and the rest of your kids.

There are more days that I know you’re with me, though, versus the ones that I feel sad and lonely and utterly helpless without you. And that’s a good thing.

I really missed you at Everett’s party.

That’s when I remember you your happiest–during the holidays, family get togethers, and for birthday parties. When our family was all under one roof, you glowed.

I feel that same family happiness now, too. Chris always teases me before a family event like, “Pum are you so excited!” in his high pitched cheesy voice. He knows I get the jitters when I’m going to Nana’s for a party or over to Grandma’s for a day visit.

I just love my family beyond anything else in this world. And when I looked around yesterday at the party, I saw Everett…I saw my family, and thought, I am finally contributing to these family birthdays now–we are all in the same room because of MY baby. That felt good and wholesome and filling to realize.

It made me feel proud.

Everyone keeps asking me, “Can you believe you have a one year old?” and I say, yes…I can. I don’t mean it in a negative way–a year just does feel like it’s passed. So much has happened, so much has been accomplished, so much has been learned, so much has been proven and changed.

I’m satisfied and proud of what the past twelve months have brought me and my family. I look at Everett when he does something new and can’t believe I’ve raised a human whose learning to walk. I’ve kept that little boy fed and clean and loved and safe and everything else for an entire year. As dumb as it sounds, I’m proud of Chris and I too, for getting this far with so much success. I think we are great parents and we make an even better team together.

You were such a proud Mom, too.

I keep this note in a little keepsake box in my nightstand:

Hayley,

I know you think it’s silly for me to

congratulate you for making cheer squad

since we all knew they’d be crazy not to

take you. However, I am so proud of how

amazing you are at cheerleading. What a

great feeling for a mother to not have to

worry about her daughter because she is

so good at everything she tries.

I couldn’t be prouder of you for all you are

and all I know you will become.

The proudest mom ever,

Mom xoxo

You always made me feel like I could do anything. You made me learn how to be independent. You made me feel capable and strong and want to aspire to be just how you were.

You were an amazing mother, Mom. I honestly don’t know if I ever told you that. If you were here now, I’d sit down and thank you for everything.

I’d thank you for being so fierce and fun and funny–so honest and comfortable in your skin. I’d thank you for believing in me and never letting me go easy. I’d thank you for all the times you made me feel special, whether it was because I made cheer squad or you said my hair looked pretty. I’d thank you for taking care of me when I was a baby, for giving me a happy childhood, for setting boundaries when I was a teenager, and for teaching me how to be a woman, wife and mother.

Do you really know how much I love you?

 

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