A Letter to My Greatest Teacher: Everything I Learned About Life From the First Year of Your Life

One year. That is how long it took to change my life forever.

I have spent the last year of my life on maternity leave with my first born child, a beautiful baby girl.  In the span of one year I went from being a childless Masters student, to an anxious expectant mother, to an exhausted but joy-filled mommy. My focus changed from studying for my Masters degree to changing dirty diapers, from yoga to breastfeeding, and from snuggles with my new husband to snuggles with my newborn.

As I reflect on the past year I am filled with so many emotions.

Wonder: At how it is possible that a year has gone by since my daughter came into my life.

Sadness: That the end of this era is over.

Anxiey: At the thought of having responsibilities outside of caring for an infant. 

Fear: That I will lose the special bond my daughter and I have.

Guilt: For not being able to spend all day every day with my child.

Amusement: That my parents will be changing the majority of my daughter’s diapers now.

Irritation: That I have to wear real pants every day.

Relief: For no longer earning a maternity leave salary.

Pride: That my daughter is a thriving, independent, stubborn, and charismatic 1 year old.

Gratitude: For the year I got to spend with my girlie. It is forever imprinted on my heart. 

Standing on the precipice of returning to work and with my heart filled to bursting with all of these emotions, I write this letter to my daughter.

To My (Sweet, Perfect, Cuddly, Funny, Delicious) Baby Girl

Thank you. 
For the innumerable lessons you have taught and continue to teach me daily. 
For our many late nights together, you staring intently into my eyes.
For the quiet, early mornings when we would see the sun come up.
For the slightly louder, fussy times when you let me know exactly what you needed.
For the times you would fall asleep in my arms and I couldn't bring myself to move you for hours.
For being patient with me as we struggled in the beginning. 
For making me laugh more than anyone else ever has.
For making me cry more than anyone else ever has.
For the messy moments. And there were many.
For the impromptu giggles; they always brighten my day.
For the spontaneous hugs; they ground me more than anything.
For releasing my inner child; she's been in hiding for a long time.
For the stretch marks; they have made me into a warrior.
For challenging me in ways that I did not expect.
For teaching me the true meaning of "unconditional love". 
For the tough moments that became teachable moments. They helped me grow the most.
For opening my heart in ways I could not have imagined possible.
For the privilege of watching you grow. And learn. And flourish. And fly. 
For making us a family. 
For choosing me. 

Thank You.

And so I embark on the next part of this parenting journey. There are still many unknowns, and there are sure to be many more bumps in the road. Despite this, I know that I can handle any of the challenges that I am about to face as a parent, because I am entering this next phase of my life hand-in-hand with my greatest teacher. My daughter.

VANESSA