We blew out the bright pink candle on her birthday cake, and it was official. My baby was One. I tried to pause to enjoy the moment, but she saw me gazing at her and reached up with chocolate hands.
I picked her up and swung her over to the sink to wash her gritty paws and she splashed with glee, sending the water jetting into my eyes. Laughing, I wiped my arm across my face and when I took it away, she was taking her first wobbly steps away, knees shaking with every step.
I ran to get the camera and when I came back, she was striding across the floor, all wobbliness forgotten.
From that moment on, I hardly dared blink – the changes came so fast.
The hungry bird mouth that used to wait for me to scoop food into it became an alligator’s jaws, clamping tight around the spoon until I let go so she could maneuver it herself.
Those first wobbly steps turned into a peculiar, pigeon-toed run, as fast as it was adorably awkward.
The plaintive “mama” became “MINE!” before evolving into full-fledged sentences (like “Mama, NO!” MY chalk/toy/universe”).
The high chair moved to the garage, along with the play gym, swing and other baby accoutriments.
The adorably matched outfits I dressed her in turned into a mish mash of stripes, polka dots and garish colors – chosen to suit a toddler’s style.
Even her sweet, grassy baby scent changed – reflecting the larger world she moved in.
My baby is gone, replaced by a sweet, sassy, fiery-tempered toddler whose moods are as changeable as the wind. It’d be enough to break a mommy’s heart, except for the fact that I love this little person she’s becoming more than anything.
And at the end of the day? She still snuggles up close, buries her head in my neck and says, “My mommy. Mommy mine.”
To which the rhythm of my heart answers, “Yes, baby. Mommy’s yours. Always and forever.”
Happy Birthday, Baby Girl.