Catherine Cameron: To my one year old
Today, you are one.
That’s one year since I lay arms outstretched, as an obstetrician sliced my belly and pulled you out from under my ribs. One year, since I first heard your cries, and realised you sounded nothing like the babies I had heard before, because this time I felt it. One year, since you were placed beside my head, feeling my skin from the outside for the first time. One year, since I felt my first flash of maternal protectiveness as I watched someone else cradle you and ached to have you back in my belly.
One year, since you opened your eyes and saw me for everything that I am, and made the decision to love me.
I know you probably won’t remember those precious first weeks of your life. But I always, always will. It was during these weeks that I was stripped of all my preconceived ideas, assumptions, and notions of what motherhood would be like. I was scared. I was adjusting. I was learning. I wanted to do my best for you, and I didn’t understand that that meant I needed to let go of control. I didn’t understand that you didn’t care about ‘best’ at all.
First of all, I want to thank you. Thank you for being patient with me. For forgiving my anger. For understanding that I was never angry with you. Anger was my way of coping with the frustration of doing a job I wasn’t prepared for. A job I wanted to do so perfectly, for you. You knew I needed that anger to help me learn about my limits, and to ultimately give me the strength I fall back on today.
I want to thank you for challenging me. For surprising me. For dancing around my perfect linear ways and colouring my life with the unknown. If only I could have found that colour before, I might have been braver in running in the direction of my dreams, as I hope you will.
I want to thank you for bringing me back to you, when everything else was too much. When my world was in motion, you became my stillness. You were always the reason I never knew I needed.
Finally, I want to thank you for bringing awareness to the passing of time. For helping me stop and see that there is joy even in the simplest of things. You have made me want to stop time all together, unable to bear the thought of you ever being to heavy for my arms.
Following this gratitude, I would like to apologise for a few things.
Firstly, I am sorry for not having more trust in your strength. I was always so weary of trying new things, or not being by your side. Looking back I realise how silly I was, for you are more than capable to learn, to adapt, and to explore. Perhaps it was simply me who wasn’t ready for you to take those steps.
I am sorry for being so hard on myself. I could never have imagined that being your mum would not only teach me about you, but about me too. And sometimes learning is confronting. I was so caught up in doing right by you that often I forgot to do right by myself. But it is hard to be another’s light, when your own is fading. Thank you for showing me that you don’t mind if I make the time to ensure I am always at my brightest.
I know we still have a long road ahead of us. After all, your first year is only a drop in the ocean of the life in which you are yet to live. But that doesn’t stop me from clinging to each milestone, and feeling as though all the time in the world would still never be quite enough.
For now, even though you are able to walk in this world without always needing to rest in my arms, I will still be holding you in them as much as I can.