A couple weeks ago you turned 1 year old. On the days leading up to your birthday, I stayed up at night unable to stop thinking about it.
How could my baby be one?
How could I have three children beyond the baby stage?
It just seemed unreal, impossible.
Just over a year ago I was anticipating holding a newborn in my arms and suddenly, you were there! Before I knew it, you were a few weeks old, a few months old, and now – a year!
As I get older, the clock seems to tick faster. I have more tasks to fill my days and less time to sit down and think. But I am so grateful, so utterly thankful, that I cherished your babyhood and tried to make the most of each moment with you.
Perhaps it was because my older children were 6 and nearly 4 years old at the time you were born – unlike having kids two years apart like I did between your brothers. Life was so busy that I often felt I didn’t have a moment of calm with either child.
Maybe it was due to you being my third child that I could appreciate the fleeting wonderment of this age.
Or perhaps it was simply that I was more mature by the time you were born that I wasn’t rushing through life, anticipating the next stage. I was happy to enjoy the beautiful stage you were in at each moment.
Each season of life has its own challenges. I have written to you about not rushing before. But I also want to encourage you to appreciate each stage of life for its joys, because this is sometimes tricky to keep in perspective.
Because being a mother to a baby as you may one day experience – although it is amazing to cuddle a sweet squishy baby and watch your coos and your first steps and your beautiful little face developing – was not easy. Long nights of teething, five times waking up to nurse you, learning how to read your body language and figure out what in the world you wanted when you were frustrated, figuring out rashes, soothing you through fevers, going on crowded plane rides and (what felt like) never-ending road trips… it was hard at times. But – after having three children – I know that all that is simply part of the journey.
The next season for us is toddlerhood. You will be walking more, talking more, and becoming more opinionated. It will be fascinating and fun, but no doubt exhausting. When (and if) you have your own toddler, you will understand!
But please, my daughter, learn to love each season for its gifts and for its challenges. When you are a child you may wonder why you can’t walk to the playground by yourself, but you will experience joy on that swing like nothing else matters. When you are a teenager you may be dealing with acne, but you will create long-lasting friendships that will help shape your perspective on relationships and life. When you first move out of the house and live on your own for the first time it may feel lonely or strange, but you will find your own way and really start to mould your future like never before.
With each new season of life you will grow and your heart will expand in ways you never knew possible. Don’t focus on the exhaustion or the confusion or the craziness that can be overwhelming at times. I hope you hold onto the joy and the contentment that comes when you accept each stage of life for what it is.
Thank you for being a part of my journey. You are so loved, so cherished, and I absolutely adore you.
To read more in this series of letters, visit the Dear Daughter Archives.
How gorgeous Chelsea, what a gift to your daughter when she can read and understand this and even more, when she has her own family.
I wrote a diary for the first year of each of the children’s lives and look forward to giving to them one day to keep – and cherish I do hope.
Chelsea Lee Smith
Oh how special that would be!!!