Happy 1st birthday to our amazing baby girl. This has absolutely been the fastest year of my life. I feel like I was just pregnant (coincidentally, that felt like the slowest year of my life), now all of a sudden Maggie is walking and babbling and feeding herself and playing keepaway games with Avon.
She may have had her moments (the first month was tough with regards to sleeping, and she seemed to cry whenever we took her anywhere outside in her stroller or carrier, and then there was the brutal 4-5 month sleep regression), but on the whole Maggie has been a pure delight (knock on wood/hopefully I’m not jinxing myself for a particularly terrible toddlerhood or teens).
Every morning she giggles and smiles when we go in to get her (she now stands at her crib and babbles to herself to announce that she’s woken up), and each night she contentedly cuddles with me as I feed her, read her a story, sing “Baby Beluga” or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Margaritaville” or “The Joker”, and put her down to sleep.
In between she eats her oatmeal on the balcony with LL, pulls her board books off the low shelves (and sometimes eats them), opens drawers and tosses clothes over her shoulder, shakes her bells and maracas, brings Avon his toys to play tug-of-war (and sometimes tries to eat them), toddles around the playground while the older kids give her hugs, accompanies me to the kopitiam (where the aunties pinch her cheeks and play peekaboo), tears up magazines, gobbles up her lunch and dinner (favorites include salmon, yogurt, and broccoli, which she double fists and stuffs in her mouth like Cookie Monster), shakes her hips and dances to my terrible singing, pushes (or drags) her walker wagon across the apartment, bounces “bolls”, tries to eat my phone, chews on coasters, splashes in the baby pool, plays peekaboo in a flower pot, crawls under the dining table to cuddle with Avon, points out the window at the big kids swimming in the pool, and tries to roll off the bed as we dry her off after her bath.
On Tuesdays she goes to swim class, where she’s the youngest by a year but is also the happiest, and loves to swim underwater and ride down the slide. At the playground she determinedly climbs up the steps to go down the slide, and plays with her friends Lucas, Yasmine and Luke, whose families each come from a different continent. It’s one of many reasons I’m so happy to be raising her in Singapore.
In the early days I marveled at how she did little more than lie on her baby gym, sleep and eat, yet the days still seemed to fly by. By comparison her days are now action-packed, but in the scheme of things I suppose they might seem small and repetitious. And yet every day she does something new to wow me, and somehow I’m always exhausted by the time I put her down for bed at 7pm. I’m lucky enough to have the indispensable help of LL, to whom I will be forever grateful. I think she’s the number one reason Maggie is such a happy, content baby, for she not only cares for her as if she were own, but has alleviated so much of the stress that would normally weigh upon parents so I can freely focus upon Maggie (or leave her to deal with work stuff, knowing that she’s safe and content).
At 18 months Maggie will be old enough to go to school here, but I’m still not sure I’ll be ready to send her off (though I don’t doubt she’d be ready for it). She is fearless and determined and curious; she loves meeting people (and dogs even more so) and playing with other babies. I hope she never loses her marvelous sense of wonder.
In her first year she traveled to Indonesia, Malaysia, the United States and Hong Kong, her white-blonde hair, chubby legs and goofy grin leaving a trail of fans across the globe (we’ll never forget the SQ flight attendants carrying her off the plane in London on our way home in December; it got a little awkward because we had a connecting flight to catch and yet they didn’t want to give her back). In July I’m flying back to the U.S. with her on my own; now that she’s mobile (in fact she seems to never stop moving during her waking hours) I’m a little bit nervous, but she’s so damn happy that I somehow think it will be ok.
She’s gotten better about riding in the car, but it is a strange and eclectic bunch of songs that soothe her and often make her dance, including “Fly” by Sugar Ray, “Hip Hop Hooray” by Naughty by Nature, “Jamaica Farewell” by Dan Zanes and Angelique Kidjo, “Hungry like the Wolf” by Duran Duran, “Baby Beluga” by Raffi, and a somewhat obscure reggae song by the Meditations called “Carpenter Rebuild”. Whatever works!
Every day I feel my capacity for love has expanded to unknown heights and depths. Only now do I properly understand the meaning of “joy”; with every giggle, every mischievous grin (followed by a mad dash for Avon’s dog dish), every goofy scrunch face, every “bop!” and “Lo-la”, every time her eyes widen as she peers at expansive palm fronds or bubbles floating over head, my heart swells, and sings.
It’s been such a fantastic first year, and I look forward to our universe expanding and growing in in the years to come (though I’m also terrified of exposing my sweet, happy child to a world that can be scary and mean and unfair). For now I will continue to cherish the small changes that we see on a daily basis: how suddenly she went from tipping over to sitting, then she was crawling, then two days later she was standing, then the next week she was walking. She’s basically done everything at a rapid pace except grow hair.
I think 99% of what I’ve experienced and felt in this first year is probably common among all first-time parents (and babies). When she smiles or laughs I feel happier than I’ve ever felt; when she bumps her head and cries I feel like my heart’s been ripped out. But within that 1% of specialness is the truly good stuff. Watching her bend down to gently pet Avon (thanks goodness, because he was getting pretty sick of her pulling his tail). Watching her determinedly stack books so she can stand on them to reach a higher shelf (so proud of her problem solving skills, but dismayed by her mischievousness!). Hearing her (sort of) sing “Baa, Baa Blacksheep” back to me. Within the space of a year Maggie has gone from being this helpless, alien-like little creature to a fully formed, truly awesome person, and I can’t wait to see how she continues to grow and come into her own. I can’t wait until she can run, and climb trees, or tell me about her favorite book, or ask questions about the world around her. Part of that truly terrifies me, but part of me is truly excited to be the best mother I can possibly be to our amazing little girl.
Maggie, you have made life more wonderful than I ever thought it could possibly be, and your Daddy and I love you so very, very, very much. Happy birthday, babygirl, and to many, many more.