Today you are one. One year of infant bliss. One year of chubby thighs and rosy cheeks. One year of milky burps and infectious laughter. One perfect year.
Let me tell you what it’s like being the mother of Hannah. I’ve struggled to keep up with you – not because you are a particularly difficult baby, but because every morning you open those curious little eyes, and you’re not the same person you were the night before. Always changing, always learning – like software updates, I just can’t keep up. Yesterday your favorite foods were sweet potatoes, pears and squash. Today you like strawberries, strawberries, and strawberries. Yesterday you could sit for hours in your swing, blowing bubbles and luring people to your side with your innocent, dimpled smile. Now you bring the smile to them; an in-your-face, look-at-me-or-so-help-me-I-will-tear-your-hair-out kind of gremlin grin that leaves people both amused and terrified – amused at how scrunchy your nose gets, and terrified that they might not meet your expectations.
Being your mother has made me take a better look at myself. When we found out you would be a girl, Daddy said “watch out, here comes a mini-Suzie.” It’s true, looking at you is like looking in the mirror. The same things that frustrate you frustrate me. We make the same faces, we blink innocently at your father when we’ve made the same messes, and we both demand lots of love, attention, and strawberries. We like to be heard, you and I, which means we’re often competing for the floor when we have someone’s attention. When I am having a particularly harrowing day with you, Hans just laughs and laughs and says, “I told you so.” Raising a copy of myself has tried my nerves to the point of frazzlement. I didn’t know I was so difficult!
Your big shiny eyes and irresistibly puffy cheeks have helped you achieve celebrity status among the Japanese. When we go out, I feel more like your entourage or manager than your mother.
“So cuuuuuuute! How old?”
“Woooow! So cute! Can I touch her?”
“That’ll be 50,000 yen.”
Megumi, your Japanese grandmother, recently said “I want to take care of Hannah, but without you.” Gee. Since then you’ve made several visits to Megumi’s house, where you are no doubt wined and dined to your heart’s content. I’m blaming her for your gourmet taste of freshly squeezed apple juice.
I shower with you, eat with you, sleep with you and cry with you, all the while thinking how did I ever do this alone? You’re my best friend and sweetest sidekick. The thump thump thump of your deliberate crawl in my direction warms my heart to the core. One year flew by, as I’m sure the rest will. But for now, for today, I’m in love with the girl that you are. My perfect one-year-old Hannah. Happy birthday.