Happy Birthday, happiest birthday, to The One whom I can call by oh so many names. A flood of endearments that run the gamut of cliched, overused, obvious and inadequate--but all very heartfelt, because you are: my darling, my sweetness, my pride and joy; my little man, my big boy, my bundle of joy; the one person who can always put a smile on my face, who has made me laugh more than ever before; source of such goodness and pure delight; my handsome, my hunk of love; my Zizi, busy Z, Z forever...
The last year has been in parts a blur from the haze of underslept fogginess, marked by unforgettable bits of elation and countless privilege of sharing the every day with you. You changed my life forever and I don't mind. I can't wait to see the person you are becoming and at the same time I want to stop time because every milestone that you reach feels that much closer to the day when we will say good-bye in too many ways. I can barely stand to leave you at daycare for the nine hours I am away from you so I imagine it will be devastating on your first day of school, for your first overnight, at your graduation, or on your wedding day. I want you to outgrow me; I want nothing more than to one day see you almost as a stranger but someone I have the pleasure of knowing. But right now you are still my baby, my first, barely out of my body but already so changed that I have a hard time thinking you are the same pile of cooing blind, helpless gush, especially when I see you walking and talking. You express yourself so clearly and have such a mind of your own. You are willful and I have no doubt you will be powerful--Virgo Metal Tiger and all. But already you amaze people in how natural you are at loving: you act like a mayoral candidate at every social gathering, making the rounds. You love people, especially other kids, and will already stray from your parents not even looking back so that you can make some kind of contact with whomever strikes your fancy. It's not just me, other people tell me how you give the best hugs and the recent habit you have of randomly doling out love and tilting your head onto laps and shoulders is almost shameless.
Your father and I are cuckoo for you. Somehow it never gets old to tell each other how much we love you, when we spend all day saying to you the words, "I love you." We also tell you and each other how cute you are, maybe even more than how much we love you. In private, your father always asks--rhetorically, because he is already convinced--if you are indeed as exceptional and amazing as he thinks he is. I like to keep him in check: I don't think it's healthy to be blindly adoring--but I have to agree that I do think you are quite special and I am quite proud of you and all that you are. When you were born, I joked how we decided to keep you; well lately I'm hoping that you will want to keep us, now and forever.
I don't think it's healthy to make you my everything so I never will. But please know I feel so lucky when I see your face. I feel that I belong to you. Just as you belong to me. That's an incredible completing feeling that erases all the fatigue and overwhelming parts of being a new parent. I don't want you any other way than exactly how you are. I want to thank you for being here and being who you are...and it's better than anything imaginable to get to know you.