I apologize for being a few days late on this letter this month. As I’m sure you will soon come to realize, your birthday falls at the absolute busiest time of the year! Anyway, just four days ago, you turned ONE. One. year. old. How is that even possible?!?! It truly seems like just yesterday that we were bringing you home from the hospital, wondering how in the world those nurses let us take you home since we had absolutely NO idea what we were doing! ;)
I have had a few days now to reflect on our year together. To be completely honest, in probably every other year of my life, I would be able to list off close to an equal amount of highs and lows…but from this year, thanks to you, all I can think of are highs. So, here is just my short reflection of what has definitely been the best year of my life (again, all thanks to you) to date.
We have been so incredibly blessed with a whole year of perfect health for you. Not even a runny nose! I know that cold and flu season is upon us, so I am preparing myself that our lucky streak may soon end. But, you are tough and I know that we can get through whatever may come!
Like I mentioned earlier, when your Daddy and I left the hospital with you, we felt like we knew nothing. I am not exaggerating. In the hospital, it was great because we had nurses helping us and guiding us… but after only two short days, they turned us loose with you. I have never felt so unprepared in my life (and I know your Daddy felt the same way). But, guess what? We learned. And I feel like we did a pretty dang good job, if I do say so myself. ;) We grew up and learned right along with you, of course with plenty of help and advice from our parents, family and friends. Learning to be a parent has been the most fulfilling job of our lives and we are still learning something new every day.
It was especially amazing for me to watch your Daddy with you in those early days… he was so nervous that he was going to break you, or do something wrong. But instead of just deferring the duties to me, he took the reigns and made sure that he learned, too. He even took over as “chief bather”—his special one-on-one time with you every day. Sometimes I will stand outside the bathroom door and listen to the two of you during bath time. He is so silly and you LOVE it…there are always tons of giggles. I swear I fall more and more in love with him every day, just from watching him with you. He loves you so much, and anyone around you two can see that.
I can’t talk about the high points of this year without at least briefly mentioning what a great sleeper you are and have been. From the very beginning, you slept 6-7 hour stretches, which quickly became 9-10 hour stretches… and then (and still now) 12-13 hour stretches. Naps have also been a breeze for the most part—you really just love to sleep (you most DEFINITELY get that from your Daddy!). To say we have been lucky with you being a great sleeper is the understatement of the century. So thank you, baby girl, for making that part so easy on us!
One of the most special times came just a couple months after you were born, when you flashed us that first smile. Talk about heart melting. It sort of felt like confirmation that you were indeed happy…and that you loved us as much as we loved you! I can also say that even now, a year later, those smiles still make me melt inside a little. And then there were the giggles. When those started, we became infatuated with making you laugh. Still now, whatever we find that makes you laugh, we will do over and over and over because it is the BEST sound in the world. You are such a sweet girl!
One of my favorite memories from your first year is when we went on your first beach trip with the Aldridges—we got to spend a whole week in Cherry Grove with your Mamaw and Papaw, Aunt Heather, and Great-Grandma and Grandpa Aldridge. I am not sure who enjoyed it more, them (getting to spend a whole week with you), you (having someone to play with you 24/7), or us (having SO much help that we started feeling guilty that we weren’t having to do anything!). Anyway, you loved the beach and we all loved getting to spend such precious time with the family. I know that the photos from that trip will be some that we look back on with the fondest memories.
Speaking of grandparents and great-greatparents, watching all four of your grandparents and all six of your great-grandparents with you has been the sweetest thing. They all ADORE you, little miss. There is no way I could ever adequately explain it, but I hope that one day when you look back on the photos of you with them, you will be able to see the love and adoration. We have tried to make a conscious effort to make many trips home to see everyone and to invite them up to our house to see you…but hopefully it won’t be too long until we will be back “home” (just somewhere closer to our families) and you will get to see them even more. It is so important for us for you to grow up knowing the importance of a close family…and you are beyond blessed to have one of the BEST (though sometimes crazy, haha) families there is.
I could talk about your physical developments all day, but I’ll try to keep it short. Life changed a lot for us shortly before you turned 6 months old, when you learned to sit up on your own. Play time changed drastically, since you were able to sit and play with your toys. And then (it seems like it was almost overnight) came the crawling, and pulling up to standing. This made me nervous, since you would pull up on anything you could get your hands on, sturdy or not. You got the hang of that quickly, though, and soon began exploring the world around you. You are SO curious about what everything is, how it works,
what it tastes like… you are happy as can be when I just let you roam free and let you check everything out. Most recently came the walking! You are still learning and getting better at it, but you show little to no fear, which of course triggers the fear in me (so many corners, ah!), but I am making an effort to let you go and explore, even if it means the occasional bruise or two. I want you to grow up to be independent and tough, which you are already proving to be.
The most recent exciting development is just how extremely aware you are of everything around you. You have an excellent memory, and are learning several new words every day (most recently “bear”, “Ralph”, “Bekah”, “all done”, and “whoa”), and it is SO MUCH FUN! If we ask you where your bear is (only one particular bear, though), you will go find it, and you know who Ralph, Mama, and Dada are and will point to us if we ask you to. The sweetest thing you have learned lately is to give kisses. You will kiss anything/anyone if we ask you to (Daddy hopes this isn’t a problem later…), and you will do it a lot even if we DON’T ask you to (your bear and I receive the most kisses, for sure). I can’t even imagine how it will feel when I hear the first “I love you too, Mommy”… just the thought brings tears!
Finally, the biggest “high” I can think of from your first year is simply how we have grown as a family. We have started traditions that I hope to carry on for many years to come. We have determined what things are important to us as a family, and what ideals and morals we want to stand for and instill within you and our future children. Most importantly, your Daddy and I have fallen more and more in love with each other and with you with each passing day. I hope that you will always feel the love coming from us and that you will grow up to love others and God with your whole heart and without reservation. I also hope you know that your Daddy and I will always be here for you no. matter. what. and that we will always be your biggest supporters. You are the light of our lives and by far the best thing that we have ever done!
I have said it over and over again, but I still can’t believe that you are one year old. Happy birthday, and thank you for blessing us by just being you, sweet Hadley Jo. I love you to the moon and back, and cannot wait to see what the next year brings us—if it brings half as much joy as the first year, we will be the luckiest little family in the world.