Clara is turning one year old this month.
We have had an entire year with our little girl, and I would do anything to live it again. From the moment I went into labor to this very moment as I cut her grapes in half for lunch, my heart has filled and filled and filled. Clara's life, her 346 days in our family, started a love revolution in this house, an overthrow of our old way of living. And while I delight in every day that she grows and changes, I dread the days ahead when I wish to hold my baby again, the day that she is grown and I ache to smell her sweet baby skin just one more time.
Sam and I were married four years before we had a baby, and during those four years I knew I didn't want a family yet. I was certain that children would be a hassle, a constant buzz kill on our self-filled lives. "We're not ready yet," we would dismiss with a wave of our hands. We worshipped our money, our time, and our freedom, I recognize now, and it was wrong.
I don't think everyone should be parents. Parenthood is a heavy responsibility, one we will answer to God for, and it requires more of a person than any other responsibility in the world. But it is also the greatest, most fulfilling, tear-your-heart-apart LOVE that can ever be experienced. This kind of love changes you. It shifts your focus, it alters your perspective, and it reveals more about your Heavenly Father than anything else ever could. I could not understand how God felt about me until I saw Clara and realized how I felt about her.
The old me was right, of course: being a mother is difficult, frightening, worrisome work. Clara's needs, especially in this first year, have been consuming and constant. What the old me did not know - could not know - was how much better life would be when our children arrived. Better doesn't begin to touch it, actually. Parenthood is a rush of fresh breeze after a lifetime of sucking up canned air. I have ripped off my oxygen mask and felt the cool wind of beautiful sacrificial love, and I will never be the same.
A child's needs will reveal your faults, your strengths, your grit and your tenderness. It will wear down the bits of you that should not be there, and it will build up part of your heart that you never knew existed. It is frightening and thrilling and lovely, all at once.
I am learning this day after day after day after day, and you know what?
I only wish I'd had children sooner.
Let the revolution roll on, my friends.
Cause there's nothing better on Earth than this kind of love. Nothin'.
These pictures are from a few nights ago. Clara let me hold her as she fell asleep, which has happened about twice since she was a newborn (the girl has got quite the independent spirit, let me tell you). You should've seen me; I was like a hiker who looks up and notices a deer lapping from a stream. I wouldn't move for fear of chasing the moment away. Especially since she is almost one, almost a toddler, a thought that makes me weepy. I motioned to Sam to please take a picture of the moment for me, in case there are not very many of them left to come. He did, and although I am in my pajamas with no makeup and they are a little blurry because the room was so dim... they have become a few of my favorite shots of all time.
Thank you, my love, for capturing how I felt.