You are one year old now. Only a year . . . and already a year.
Time has become a slippery eel of a thing ever since you were born. On the one hand, I can’t believe you’ve only been with us for one revolution around the sun. I can hardly remember life before you. What filled the Graham-shaped spot in my heart for all those years?
On the other hand, how is it possible that an entire year has flown by? If I close my eyes, I can believe you are still the size of a loaf of bread, with tiny fists closed above your head as you slept. But when I go into your room in the morning, I marvel at this jabbering, smiling, squawking person you have become, the boy who toddles single-mindedly toward the potted plants.
After we brought you home from the hospital, all manner of seasoned parents echoed the same advice to us: “Enjoy this—it goes so fast!” I tried to soak in the wisdom, but it didn’t make sense to me at the time. The days stretched on, a blur of feeding and changing and wiping spit-up, eclipsed only by the even longer nights. Time didn’t seem fast—it seemed like it was standing still.
But now it’s starting to make sense. It turns out the best part of parenting is also the hardest: no season lasts forever. When one stage ends, it’s replaced by something else, something equally worthy of being cherished. Case in point: you don’t fall asleep on our chests anymore, and there’s a tote full of tiny onesies you’ll never fit into again. But now you pat us on the back of your own volition, and if we catch you at the right moment, you’ll give us the most delightful slobbery kisses.
By no choice of our own, we have traded rubies for emeralds. They are equally lovely, but we do not have the luxury of holding both at once.
Psalm 90 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” What would it look like, I wonder, for your dad and me to number our days with you? Here are some of the numbers from the first year of your life:
- 1 ER visit
- 14 pounds gained
- 365 times we’ve tucked you into bed at night
- 522 books we’ve read together
- 2,000-plus meals we’ve fed you
That’s the past year by the numbers (I’ve lost track of the number of diapers). But I’m not sure that’s what it really means to number our days. Numbers have their place, but they don’t tell the whole story. They can’t capture things like wonder and joy and delight and love.
You have taught me so much already, little one. You have taught me to slow down, to notice, to pay attention. Before you, I never realized how interesting a dandelion puff is or how delightful bubbles in the sunshine can be. Before you, I never appreciated watching a squirrel scurry across the backyard or watching the garbage truck pick up its weekly haul.
You have taught me the joy of inefficiency, of putting aside my to-do list and just being present in the moment. You don’t agonize over regrets from the past or fret about the unknown future; you are all in for the right-now—for the sweet tang of a ripe blueberry or the hilarity of your dad’s funny noises.
And so even as time is speeding by faster than I get my mind around, I want to take a lesson from you as we celebrate your first year. I want to enjoy this moment and be fully present in it, not pining for past-you or looking ahead to future-you, just savoring the boy you are right now and thanking God for the gift of curious, observant, silly, joyful, active, bananas-in-the-hair you.
Happy birthday, my boy.
Mom and Dad