Last night in the wee hours while I lay restless, you deep asleep on a separate pillow. From that distance I could still breathe in your sweetness, less sweaty tonight and more sweet. I thought about how I wished I’d planned a birthday party for you, I should have made you a doll, how I read more books with your brother. How I still read more books with your brother. How I just need to slow down.
A year ago today around this time, I was organizing your baby clothes and bringing them to our bedroom. Rowan sat on the floor with me and helped sort. You were eight days early; we weren’t quite ready. But everything about that morning spent nesting was slow. You were born into the water and into my arms. You spent the first few months mostly in my arms. I tried to remember how quickly it all seems to go.
When you were four months old, I started back to work. My chest tightens just to think of it. 4 months. You were just a baby! I’m lucky to work remotely, so I could still breastfeed frequently. And even then, to be apart already at 4 months is heart-wrenching. Your baba handled it with so much grace, and he still does. He wears you several times during the day, and you take half of your naps snuggled against his heart.
This year you visited Turkey and Wisconsin to meet the rest of your family. You learned to sit, turn over, and crawl, to pull yourself up and reach what you may. Anything in your path is quickly grabbed and thrown behind you, over and over again. You love knocking down anything that appears to be organized neatly. You bang everything together. In the music class we go to with Rowan, you follow what we do with the instruments and you dance.
You eat everything; it doesn’t matter if it’s food. Your pointer fingers find detritus on even the most well-vacuumed surfaces. Putting rocks in your mouth is a game to you. Over the past week or so I started to shake my head when the rock is making its way to your mouth, and sometimes you’ll put it back down instead. During meals, you show your excitement during blessing by banging on your high chair tray. Sometimes you’ll humor us with by giving the official “more” sign, but mostly you bang the table when you want more of something.
You make airplane and car noises just like Rowan. You love to be outside, to visit the chickens and point to the birds at the feeder. You love to climb stairs. And when you see an ungated stairway, you runcrawlrace to it with purpose. Your hands slap the floor quick quick quick as you squeal with delight. When you reach the stairs, you look back to us and laugh, just to make sure we are watching as you giggle your way up the stairs.
You love your big brother so much, you wave your arms and grunt when you see him. When we are reading books together and you want it to be in your mouth, Rowan brings you a board book to chew. He tells you what sounds each animal makes. He tries hard not to grab things from your hands, and when he does, he usually trades you a substitute. Rowan builds towers for you to knock down, and he tells you stories. He was the first to mention your birthday this morning: Today, is our little baby Linden one year? Aww you’re such a big baby, Linden! You’re not even a baby anymore. Oh my sweet boys. You’ll both always be my babies.
This morning, we measured you both against the wall in Rowan’s room. We hung the birthday bunting. Rowan and I wrapped your present together. I’ll assemble the lime cake with lavender whipped cream. It’s not as dense or as healthy as the cranberry bread cupcake Rowan had on his first birthday. But it’s probably more yummy. We’ll sing, and Rowan will help you blow out your single candle and open your package. We’ll watch the slide show of your birth that baba created for my birthday just in time for yours. (Thank you!) We’ll dance. We’ll take it slow. We’ll love. We’ll grow.
Happy birthday, sweet baby. Thank you for sharing your life with me.