One year ago, you left my body and became your own -- dependent, but unique. Already hard wired to be quiet, reflective, easy going, joyful, sweet, kind, and a child of God. You are from me, but you are not me. I remember this being the thing I reflected on so much when your brother was a baby. There's something spiritual about being a mother, in that I feel like I've known you forever... I don't remember what it's like to not love you. I feel that you are a part of me... but you are beautifully, wonderfully, and uniquely, your own precious person.
I feel so much when I look at you. I think about how quickly this year has gone by. I remember months and months ago, pushing your exersaucer aside as I tried to walk down the hallway, my mind immediately going to the thought, "I can't wait until you're too big for this dumb thing and we can get rid of it." But then I stopped. I thought about you being too big... your toddler self, crawling out as your brother did at the tender age of ten months old, and that chapter of my life closing. You, no longer a tiny baby who simply observed, but was involved. And I took it back! No... I can wait. I can most certainly wait.
And that day came. You are 14 months old, and just last night I put that exersaucer outside with a "FREE" sign taped to its front, and this morning it was already scooped up. Being used by some other tiny, helpless, observing little human, too young to decide she is bored in the Circle of Neglect (as my friends and I like to call it), clamber out, and explore the world beyond.
The way you call Mama... may I never forget. It's different than the way your brother and sister did it. It's demanding, needing, full of personality and knowing. MAma. MAma! I love it. I knew with your brother that soon, the constant "Mama Mama Mama" would get old (and I was right), but I didn't know back then how quickly time would pass. As I gaze upon his baby face in my mind, I am met with the reality that I will never hear that same tiny voice again. It's gone forever, and every time your brother calls me "Mom," I swear my heart breaks a little. It's always by accident, but I make sure to be dramatic about it anyway. Mom?! Who is this MOM you speak of? I am Mama. Please let me be your Mama forever!
Sweet Chasey, I love the way you say mama. For although you are becoming this toddler, blooming into your own, with that cheesy grin that reminds me of a baby vampire (the way your lateral incisors hang lower than your central incisors... something only a mama would know and cherish), and your long, below-the-shoulder hair that everyone comments on, to your sweet little toes that seem to grow plumper by the day (though you are my smallest babe yet). Goodness, I love every bit of you.
I love the way you dance on command... "Chase! DANCE!" I love the way you eat lentil soup one lentil at a time. I love the way you chuckle when you do something you know is funny. I love the way you place your little hand on my neck when I am nursing you, giving me a hug. I love the way you suck on that paci of yours, with its squelching sound... you are still such a tiny babe. I love the way you shout to get your way. (Yes, I love it! It's hilarious... and so melodramatic.) I love the way you wrinkle your nose when you smile. I love the way you climb on the table top and just play. You like to be up high. I love the way you say "nana!" when I ask you if you want a banana. I love the way you say River. (Vuhvuh!) I love the way you walk around with any type of bag on your arm like a purse. I love the way you curl your lip under your top teeth when you smile. I love the way you cry when River or Austen cries... because you hate it when they are sad or in pain. Empathy, already. That is one of my biggest prayers for my children... that they would have empathy.
You know, I have written three of these "Mine for One Year" letters, and each one is magical and precious in its own way. I often remember the wise words (full of love and sacrifice and belief of magic), of a friend of mine, who has six of her own precious souls... "I love each of my six children more than anyone else in the world." And that's exactly what it feels like. I love you so. I love you so much that it hurts. If I peer deeply into my chest, extract that feeling I get when I think of you and the way my heart beats for you -- it's a deep longing, almost pain. That's how I love each of you. That's how I love YOU, my sweet Chasey.
Chase, I feel so lucky to be your mommy. I can't imagine life without you... we did not expect you, but you were the piece we didn't even know was missing.
You are loved. You were designed. You were needed before we knew you were needed. You fit. You belong. You are cherished. You are beautiful. You are precious in God's sight, and he loves you.
I love you Chase. Thank you for being my sweet baby girl for one year.