now you are one.

Dear Ruby,
Today is your first birthday. Although you will never remember this particular birthday, I am treasuring the opportunity to remember this time last year, as I laboured to bring you out into the world. I will take photos, as I always do, to help us remember what our memories might forget, so that when you are a little older, I can tell you all about it and you can make the connections between my memories and the photos of you on your first birthday.
At the beginning of this year, when you were just five weeks old, I started taking weekly portraits of you as a way of documenting your first year. Alongside these portraits, I have written letters to you. Some are very short, and some are much longer. I also spend much of my thinking time writing letters to you in my head. Some of these make it onto paper, and some never will. These letters are filled with stories about us, things that I pray for your heart to know, and with my love for you. I often picture you as a ten year old, curled up under a quilt, reading the letters I am writing to you, and wondering what on Earth your Mama is talking about. Other times, I imagine you as an adult, reading these letters with many more years of life experience behind you, creating a deeper understanding of all that I write.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved receiving and writing letters, and I would love to leave you with a legacy of letters, because words and love outlast the time we have on Earth, and something that I value is having memories recorded. There is something so special about opening up an envelope, filled with words that have been written especially for you to read. In these years where I have the privilege of spending my days with you and making memories that you will not remember, letters feel like the perfect way for me to document the memories we make, and the things that I would like to share with you. So it only feels fitting that I write you a letter on your first birthday.
The other morning, you were feeling slightly poorly, and didn't have as much energy as normal. Rather than being your normal adventurous self, you wanted to stay close to me. So we sat on the kitchen floor and enjoyed cuddling and playing the little games that we play a lot these days. I gave you a kiss on your nose, then asked you for a kiss. You obliged with a gentle kiss on my cheek, accompanied by your wonderful smile. In that moment, I thought how much of an honour it is that I get to raise you, and enjoy your company. You are so lovely, Ruby, and it has been a wonderful year of getting to know you.
You spend much of your time pointing at things and climbing on anything that stays still for long enough and presents enough of a challenge. But right now, the thing that you seem to enjoy doing most of all, is emptying and clearing everything you can reach. At the table, once you have finished eating, you swipe away every last bit of food that's nearby. On the shelf, you pull off all of the books, pine cones and Russian dolls until all that's left is a giant pumpkin. (This one only gets left behind because it's too heavy for you to move with one hand - you still need to use one hand to steady yourself while you use the other to do all of the clearing.) You open up the kitchen cupboards and pull out everything, which means the tupperware cupboard gets cleared, cleaned and reorganised at least twice a day.
Motherhood is everything that I anticipated it would be, and at the same time, it is so full of unexpected surprises, beauty, frustration, and learning. I pray that as your Mum, I would always have a heart that is willing to learn, and quick to apologise. While I was pregnant with you, I spent those nine months getting to know you in the sense that I was so familiar with your kicks and flutters, so that when you were finally born, at 4.44pm on 28th November 2013, I already felt like I knew you, and yet, I knew that I would spend a lifetime getting to know you. It still astounds me that I know you better than anyone else knows you, and yet I still have so much to discover about you. We are only one year into this journey together as a family, and I am so excited to learn what you love to do. It brings me great joy that I get to introduce you to many of the wonderful experiences that this world has to offer, and that I get to witness your uninhibited enthusiasm and concern for each new thing that you encounter.
There have been songs that have punctuated our first year together, and I am certain that whenever I hear them I will forever recall the memories that are attached to these songs. Like 'Storms in Africa' by Enya. I listened to this song during pregnancy and while I was in labour, and then it became the soundtrack to your bedtime routine when you were very little. After bathtime, I would give you a massage and we would wind down the day to this song. As you have grown and your needs have changed, we no longer listen to this at bedtime. Instead, Daddy sings you to sleep in a beautiful and slightly entertaining way that I cannot replicate. I have loved the process of developing rhythms as a family - working together in similar and different ways to communicate with you and love one another well. Here's to another year of growing and learning and loving each other.
Happy Birthday, my precious Ruby-girl, it is my joy to be your Mum and celebrate you.