This is a letter to my younger son, to Samuel on your 1st birthday.
To my beautiful youngest son,
Today is your first birthday. You’ve been with us a whole year. It’s incredible really: I can still remember with absolute clarity the moment I held you for the first time. Those sleepy, tiny baby snuggles. Teaching you to feed properly. Feeling that deep, deep peace as you slept, knowing (this time round) that it wouldn’t last forever, and that I had to make the most of it.
That’s what I’ve tried to remember this year. You change so quickly – you still snuggle in, but you’ve grown out of your tiny baby snuffles. Your little personality – determined, affectionate and funny – is emerging. You love to explore new places, to crawl faster than I would have thought possible. And these snapshots of you will change again in a few months as you grow.
I remember the first few weeks, still in that new-baby fog. I was on such a high after your arrival, and to be honest, I found your first few months quite easy. We came out of Tim’s paternity leave into Christmas, and it was lovely: Ben understood what Christmas was all about, and it was your first Christmas with us.
We pottered around through the winter and spring, going to the shops when Ben was at nursery and finding our friends at baby groups. You were happy in your pram and lapped up any kind of attention. You loved music classes and sensory classes. You still love music. You love watching and being around other children.
I found the summer trickier. You were crawling by August, and Ben was at home all the time. We went out a lot, and you had to get used to napping on the move. I knew we had to make the most of the summer before I went back to work, and I definitely think we did. But I also think we both breathed a sigh of relief when Ben started school and we could have a few quieter days at home each week.
This Autumn, we’ve been finding our own rhythm. You’re too big for baby groups but too little for toddler groups. You need your long naps in your own cot on the days I have off – you have to catch up as you don’t sleep so well at nursery. We’ve been swimming, we’ve been exploring, we’ve been shopping. People always stop to make a fuss of you which you adore. They ask if you’re a good baby – I assure them that you are, usually.
It’s funny, in some ways, you are so like your brother. Seeing you doing things that he used to do makes me remember his babyhood all over again. Physically, you are very alike, and people often comment about how similar you are. Yet, in other ways, you are very different. I think you’re a bit more easy going. In other ways, you’re much more determined. There are things you love doing that he wasn’t interested in, like climbing the stairs. And you can get up those stairs really quickly!
You’ve been harder work at night too. After 11 1/2 months of getting up to feed you every 2 or 3 hours, I’ve finally been able to get you to drink formula milk. We’ve started to night-wean you. I’m hoping that this means the end of breastfeeding is coming. But I’ve loved feeding you. Even though it’s meant that I have barely left your side over the past year for more than a few hours, it’s been a joy to feed you for so long. Let’s hope it’ll give you some immunity against all the nursery germs you’re battling at the moment.
You are very funny at times. You can wave, clap and high five. But will you do it when you’re asked? No you will not. You love people, and will happily reach out to strangers. You say Dada, Hiya and Ta, and will occasionally say Mama. You’ve been so good settling in to nursery, barely crying when I drop you off and happily playing while you’re there. Yes, you’re not walking yet, but you’re crawling and pulling yourself up. I know that you’ll get there.
I know the next year will have significant challenges. You’ll learn to walk and talk. You’ll become more independent and more determined. I know we’ll battle to get you into your car seat or buggy. I know we’ll struggle when we drop you off at nursery or when you fight with your brother.
But I am looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to discovering who you are. I want to know what you’ll be like. I wonder if your personality will be more like your Daddy’s. You look more like me than him, so perhaps you’ll be more like him in character. Who knows? You will definitely be your own person.
So I hope and pray that we will do right by you. We’re having you dedicated this Sunday, where we’ll promise to teach you to love God and to bring you up as best as we can. We’ll make mistakes – we all do – but we will try our very best.
Thank you for being my lovely baby,