by Ashley Weeks Cart
or my darling One Year Old, Courtland Whaley,
How has it been a full 12 months since this day? This moment? In many ways, it feels as though you have always been here. Our family has always consisted of four people. I have always functioned without a solid night’s sleep. I have always known the joy of your smile. I have always understood how a parent could so effortlessly love more than one child without having to divide her heart.
Heck, the way you cruise around the world on two legs with such staggering speed suggests that you’ve been on this Earth more than 365 days, and yet, today is the day that you entered our lives one year ago.
And what a year it has been! A move to your birth state so that Daddy and I can raise you and your sister in the kind of home we’d always dreamed we would create for our family. Our sweet Ursa’s cancer and amputation and subsequent treatment. Two relatively momentous events for our family, and you’ve been here all the while to bring us laughter, and joy, and perspective.
And perhaps it is because of these significant occasions and the fact that you are our second born, and our attention is thus divided, that it does not feel as though a full year has gone by. Time seems to be moving at warp speed. You are now walking, and communicating (in your own 12 month old way. Think: Shrieking and babbling and generally being shockingly loud and yet shockingly adorable), and mimicking, and growing into a little person and I just do not understand how that is possible in such a seemingly brief period of time. We have your first word, for crying out loud (which you still do frequently, and with much gusto)!
Much like your sister, your first word was not Mama or Dada. Daddy and I are 0-0. Dang it!
Unlike your sister, however, your first word is, appropriately, No. You hear that from us on a regular basis given your propensity for danger, and your three year old sister’s stage of testing boundaries, and your dogs’ wild and wacky personalities. It comes as no surprise that when Ursa begins barking to alert us that a car has pulled into the driveway, you promptly begin stomping around the house, babbling “NA! NA! NA!” Or when Addison rips a toy from your clutches (she’s still working on the whole sharing thing), you thrash your arms from side to side, wailing “NA! NA! NA!” Or when you are very tired and very needy for your Mama and I dare try to vacate the room, you toddle after me, flopping those strawberry blonde locks this way and that, all the while pitifully pleading “Na. Na. Na.”
And shall I mention again how frighteningly smart you are proving to be? I shall indeed. Because, holy Einstein, Batman! Yesterday at the beach, you merrily entertained yourself by using a shovel to fill your bucket with sand, so closely mimicking the three year old that I nearly called you Addison on more than one occasion. If you find a brush, you do not hesitate to brush your hair, and then waddle over to the dogs to brush theirs. You high five. You (open-mouthed) kiss. You have learned sign language for “more” and “please” and accurately nod your head for “yes” and shake your head for “no.” You flip through books. You dance to music, clapping and shaking your instruments with glee. You close and open doors. You feed yourself with a spoon. And just today, after watching your sister offer her spaghetti sauce covered plate to Ursa after lunch, Daddy found you stumbling across the lawn, dragging an adult sized ceramic plate that you had pulled from the picnic table over to where Ursa was lounging.
You do not miss a thing.
We’ve been on vacation the past two weeks, and thus you have been sleeping in the same room as your Mommy and Daddy. This has made your early morning rising more acute and challenging for your night owl Mama. And yet, when I lazily pull my head from the pillow and catch sight of your beaming, smiling face, I swear that I am filled with the energy and spirit that comes from being a morning person. Your smile competes with the rising sun and I pull you from your crib and into my arms and you bury your face into my chest and we coo and snuggle for a moment of pure bliss.
Oh my sweetheart, I will carry that peace with me for the rest of my life. And I can only hope that you too will one day know such happiness.
Happy First Birthday, Kaki darling.