October 27, 2014
To my amazing son Wilder on his 1st birthday:
It’s been quite a year. It feels to me as if it has flown by and I think I truly understand what people mean when they say that children grow in the blink of an eye. As I sit here at our dining room table on Pauline Street, it is hard for me to believe that one year ago I was in labor with you (although I had no idea when it first started). You came into our lives a month early and you were born with your eyes open and a strong cry coming from your lungs. When the doctor raised you from me, you locked eyes with your Papa Andy and I think that bond has blossomed into something even more beautiful than any of us could have imagined.
This first year hasn’t been without its challenges. I think the toughest part for me was understanding and relenting to the changes that would happen to my body and mind once you were here with us. I have always been a very independent woman, to a fault at times. I was frightened even during my pregnancy that I would somehow lose my personal identity once you arrived. Although I was completely enamored by you the moment I first saw you, I know that part of me remained guarded as if your mere presence would rob me of my complete individuality. That’s not to say that I didn’t feel that strong, nearly unnatural, maternal bond, but it is important for you to know that I didn’t want motherhood to rob me of my personal ambition. It hasn’t. It has propelled me into new and exciting decisions, such as buying a house while pregnant, and taking a new job shortly after your birth.
You are perfect in a way I never would have imagined. I have done some amazing things in my life- crazy, wonderful, exhilarating things that have filled me with joy and wonder. But none of it, and I mean this with all my heart, will ever compare to the absolute elation I feel every time I hear you laugh. It is such a beautiful sound that I have no doubt it could shatter the windows of heaven. I live to hear you happy and to know you are content. I can’t explain it, but I can only hope that in your lifetime you experience something as fulfilling.
As a family we have all struggled with our own issues this first year. It isn’t easy to make a family, especially one that you want and hope will last. We have each embarked on personal journeys with the decided goal that we don’t burden you with our bullshit. We have talked with our friends and families and sought out family therapy. Your existence alone has made us better people. We have been forced to confront the things that make us uncomfortable and work through them. We have gained a deeper and more honest respect for each other and the past events that have shaped our respective characters. You have become an intricate piece in the puzzle that connects us all to each other. Our love for you has made the journey to self-discovery one worth embarking on.
You have developed quite a fan club in this first year. Luckily you have some pretty amazing parents (if I do say so myself) that have exposed you to many eclectic, beautiful people. Your Daddy Lee and his partner Clint have welcomed you into their world of art and film. Lee has taken you to his art studio countless days where he has created some remarkable works of fabric art, along with making you a custom wardrobe. Clint has opened your eyes to the world of film, as at barely a few months old you went to your first movie at The Prytania as part of a film fest he helped procure. They have introduced you to many wonderful friends who have hugged, kissed and loved you. Oh, and your Daddy’s family has been over the moon since you arrived. They live in Texas, but that hasn’t stopped them from visiting many times, to celebrate all major holidays and events with you. Your Maw Maw loves you endlessly, and always laughs at the videos your Daddy sends. You have traveled to visit them a few times, and always had a fun trip. Your Daddy always wanted a baby and he has been the most amazing father. He is very dedicated to providing you with a healthy, happy life. He and Clint have completely remodeled their home and you have been a huge motivator. He loves you endlessly and the two of you are like peas in a pod. Sometimes when you look at me, especially when you smile, I see your Daddy’s face as clear as day. His heart is complete with you in his life.
Your Papa Andy has owned Flanagan’s Pub since you were born. You have spent more time in that bar than most alcoholics have. In the bar you have had the opportunity to meet a myriad of interesting folks, locals and tourists alike. You have always loved the bar – the lights, the people, and the energy. In fact, many a night when you were a bit fussy Papa would take you to the bar and you would be happy nearly right away. You and Papa have a special bond. I think this is because he has spent the most time with you. A little secret is that Papa never wanted kids. He even originally thought that I shouldn’t have any. The minute we knew I was pregnant, all of that changed. He has been your biggest fan. When you wake in the middle of the night, your Papa is the one who calms you. He loves you more than any of us ever thought possible. His family loves you too. His sister has visited you and has given you endless hugs and kisses, just like your Daddy’s family. You are the apple of your Papa’s eye and that will never change.
I never expected that a man would hold such sway over my heart, but you certainly do. I wanted you even before you existed, and I feel absolutely blessed to your mother. You are constantly changing and evolving to your new senses and the world around you and it has been an absolute pleasure to be a part of that. In this first year you have overcome some stomach issues, which plagued you in your first few months of life (perhaps your first struggle). You have developed unique and interesting relationships with all your parents as well as your pets (Kara is your dog- she has made that clear). You love taking a bath and swimming in a pool. You tend to prefer savory over sweet. You talk a lot (not many clear words, although “duck” was your first one) and use your right hand to elaborate on what you are saying. Your schedule consists of generally an 8:30 am wake time and an 11:00 pm bedtime. You are adaptable and not easily frightened or aggravated. You only had one cold during your first year of life. You are well liked and very social. Your favorite toys are a red stuffed monkey that your Papa received from his father and a stuffed rat named Rodney. Your favorite color appears to be pink. You aren’t walking quite yet, but you are trying very hard. Your crawl is mesmerizing and you are quick as hell. Your favorite thing to watch (yes- we are awful and let you have screen time) is Baby Einstein. You absolutely love it and crack up at the puppets, especially the zebras. You like to have a pacifier, which we call a “bink.”
I have been fortunate enough to have an amazing support system made up mostly of friends who love and adore you. Of special mention are the following women who have loved not only you (you are adorable) but also me (not as cute) and supported us this first year. Your Aunts –Amanda, Catherine, Christine, Crystal, Daphne, Dawn, Delsie, Dori, Ellen, Jackie, Jessica, Jo, Keith, Laura, Liza, Marcella and Melissa. Your Uncles – Misty, Dan and Henry. Your god-parents – Cathy and Cody. The list could go on much further, as I’m sure your other parents have people to add too. You are one well-loved little boy.
Thank you Wilder, for making us all better people. Thank you for teaching us lessons we never knew existed. Thank you for renewing my sense of wonder and excitement. Thank you for making every day an adventure. I love you so much and feel honored to have been able to share this last year with you. You are my heart, my soul and my true inspiration ( I may have stolen that from an old song – but you’re too young to call me on it.)