August 31, 2006

At first his eyes were blue-grey, although it was hard to tell. They were often narrowed against this strange world. They became hazel, a confusing kaleidoscope of colors, as though he was flipping through his choices: now greenish, now amber, now slate. Now they are brown, like my own.

His hair was red for a while. We shook our heads and grinned with helpless, silly pride (redhead!), then we did the same thing when it turned blonde (towhead!). Maybe it will turn purple and we will smile and say, oh, well, purple, now that’s something.

In a year he has learned to laugh, to clap, to scream, to crawl and stand. He can say “backpack” (ba pa!) and he can give me five and he can stomp down the hall, a mini Godzilla, while holding our hands. Every day there is something new. Every day. It is like peering into a shell, turning it in your hands and following its whorls; it is like some great and glorious flower unfurling before your eyes.

(The everyday things you do, Riley, sometimes make me blink back hot stunned tears of pride. I marvel at it all, because you did not receive the memo that said your development is not unique, that this is not worthy of openmouthed joy. How could we be anything but amazed by you, when you are so amazing?)

In a year I have learned so much. I have been strong and I have been weak. I have been an imperfect mother (is there any other kind?), I have been proud, I have been festooned with guilt.

(Oh, but you can be a misery. You can be a pill, little boy. Sometimes I heave great sighs and pinch the bridge of my nose and I ask no one in particular what your problem is, because damn. You are willful, short-tempered, demanding. You force me to dig within myself for hidden reserves and strength. You are the brightest, most beautiful of challenges.)

I have grown, and my love for my boy has grown; it is a breathtaking thing, holy and fierce. I daydream about him, I moon, I miss him when I cannot see him. I kiss his face and feel as though I could shatter into a thousand pink balloons, just from the touch of his skin. I want a magic wand to wave over his future, I want to whisper promises of a charmed life into his ear.

My thoughts go in dark corners and I think of adults who hurt children and how if that ever happened to him I would break laws and bones I would oh I would how could you not.

I hold him at night when he is tired and we read books together. He burrows his head into my chest. I tickle him and he screams with laughter. I chase him, arms outstretched, while he rides on his dad’s shoulders. I hold my arms out to him and he runs on the tops of his knees, straight into my embrace. He reaches gentle fingers up to touch my hair.

It is so big, this job of being his mother. He is pure, innocent, he embodies a sweetness of life that we humans try to define with gods and myth. Here is my wish for his happiness, and my breath on the candle. Here is the gladness that spills from me. Here is my promise: that I will carry him with me, wherever I go. Here is my plea: that I will do right by him.

In a year so much has happened. It went by so quickly. I say, stop the earth from spinning and time from passing, for just the briefest of moments, for today is my son’s birthday.

(My heart is full, my life is rich. Happy first birthday, little one.)

:::

(Alternate movie link. Music: Carl Orff’s Gassenhauer.)

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Junniper
15 years ago

That video is flipping beautiful.

Happy Birthday Riley William–I don’t think you know how lucky you are!

sunShine
15 years ago

That was beautiful. let me go wipe my eyes and blow my nose now.

Happy Birthday Riley!

Mallorie
Mallorie
15 years ago

I want to know how that kid keeps getting cuter and cuter each day, there has to be a limit yeah?

Happy Birthday Riley!

Kristin
15 years ago

Sobbing like a ninny at my desk. Happy, happy Birthday to Riley!

Melissa
Melissa
15 years ago

Lovely!

Happy Birthday Riley!

Jamie
15 years ago

Alright, now I’m going to have to explain to my coworkers why I’m crying at my desk.

Happy Birthday, adorable squooshy little boy Riley!

Teri M.
15 years ago

So precious.

Happy Birthday, little man.

jonniker
15 years ago

At the end of that video I let out this loud, awful, hiccuping sob in an open newsroom. That was awesome. Just. Oh my GOD, that was great.

Happy birthday, Riley.

Rae
Rae
15 years ago

Gawd, the video made my ovaries ache! Such a sweetie.

Ceece
15 years ago

Happy Birthday indeed.

mrsgryphon
mrsgryphon
15 years ago

I think that Riley is one of the luckiest little boys, and that when he’s 14 and all ‘angsty’ you should hand him this letter.

Truly, this has to be one of the most touching and well written posts that I’ve ever read.

Jessamyn
15 years ago

Beautiful, lovely, and so touching. I think my favorite part (other than the movie, which is so great) might be: “I marvel at it all, because you did not receive the memo that said your development is not unique, that this is not worthy of openmouthed joy.” I feel that every time I read some complaint about “mommybloggers” who think they’re something special when really they’re not – I felt that when some troll posted a comment on my site asking whether I thought I was “the first mother in the world.” It doesn’t matter if we are the first – just that they are ours, and we love them, and they are amazed, and they are amazing. And we are allowed to write about it. And I’m so glad you do.

Kirsten
15 years ago

My heart is aching! Great job on the video Sundry…
and Happy Happy Birthday Riley Boy!
I can’t believe it’s been a year already, insanity.

Coleen
15 years ago

Oh my gosh, do I ever love seeing that baby smile. Happy birthday, Riley!

canknitian
15 years ago

Awww! Happy birthday Riley!

Happy day Sundry & JB!

Happy oh-God-my-ovaries-and-heart-just-exploded-into-a-million-pieces day to me!

warcrygirl
15 years ago

Awwww, Happy Birthday Riley! Great video, too.

Sabine
15 years ago

Well, between your beautiul writing and the video, my mascara is gone. What an awesome entry, my heart feels all warm and fuzzy. Happy Birthday Riley!!!!!!

Sarah
15 years ago

Happy Birthday little man! Give your parents extra big smiles today for taking such good care of you!

Laura
Laura
15 years ago

sweetest. video. ever. cant. stop. sobbing.

Caitlin
Caitlin
15 years ago

So nice I watched it twice–beautiful, beautiful: the writing, the boy, your fierce pride! Add me to the list of desk-cryers…Congrats to you and JB both on this first year!!

Anais
Anais
15 years ago

That video was beautiful. It made me cry. He’s such a wonderful baby boy! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RILEY!!!!

^_____^

I can’t wait to have children.

anatomist
15 years ago

that is beautiful!
happy birthday riley!

Misty
Misty
15 years ago

What a lovely video! You are both so lucky. I have been reading your diary for close to 2 years, I think. Its been an amazing journey. He is a very special little boy!

Vanda
15 years ago

Sighhh, he is just to cute for words. I’m sitting here with a b.a.g on my face but wishing at the same time I could see my great grandaughter grow like I did her mummy.

Happy Birthday sweet Riley William.

Lori
15 years ago

That was beautiful. Happy birthday, dear Riley! And many more.

Sara
15 years ago

That video is lovely. Happy Birthday cutie!

Kaire
15 years ago

Happy birthday to the big boy!!!! (which oddly is the same thing I said to my boyfriend this morning! ha ha! – well, it is his b-day!)

thatgrrrl
15 years ago

Happy Birthday Riley…. and Happy Riley’s Birthday, Sundry and JB. Your letter made me wish I remembered my first year, because he looks SO happy with you and JB. Beautiful.

Sue
Sue
15 years ago

AWESOME!

Happy Birthday Riley!

WOW!

Heather
Heather
15 years ago

Aww. Happy Birthday, Riley!!!

JennB
15 years ago

Thanks for the chills up my arms and down my back. You have captured the feeling of motherhood perfectly. And, happy birthing day to you!!!
Congratulations to the three of you – and here’s the next year.

Laurie
15 years ago

Lovely! And so touching. Happy Birthday, Riley and thanks for letting us share in this wonderful year! Best wishes for the ones to come!

Philos
15 years ago

Happy birthday to Riley, and congratulations to Sundry and JB for having a great kid and being great parents. The best to all of you in the next year, and the one after, and the one after…

PoeticaL
15 years ago

oh flipping heck…..that video made me cry…..there’s nothing more beautiful than watching a family happen.

Jaime
Jaime
15 years ago

Happy Birthday Riley!

CK
CK
15 years ago

OMG! I am in love with that video! I found myself smiling and just enjoying your adorable boy. How your heart must sing everyday with that cuteness!

Happy Birthday Riley…you are one lucky kid.

Tammy
15 years ago

Happy Birthday Riley. I has been wonderful watching you grow over the past year.

K
K
15 years ago

Awww, you made me cry. Happy Birthday, Riley!!!

dorrie
dorrie
15 years ago

Must not cry at work.
Must not cry at work.
Must not cry at work.

That was just…awesome. What a lucky little dude.

honeybecke
honeybecke
15 years ago

Happy Birthday Riley!
It’s been such a fun year watching you grow and reading what your mama has to say about you.
(It’s mostly good, don’t worry!) Hehehe. You sure have been a busy little turkey!

Linda, that video was so sweet.
He is so lucky to have parents like you and JB. And, cause you are all techy-geekos, look at the fun videos and such he’ll have to look back on and see his first year. So cool!
Enjoy this special day with you and your famiy, and have a fun trip.

MommyMaki
15 years ago

Happy Bday Riley. Welcome to “toddlerhood” now :)

BTW, my 10 month old and 2 yr old wanted to watch that video over and over again. The 2 yr old kept saying “baby, baby, baby!” and my boy kept smiling and trying to grab the screen at Riley’s happy face. Thanks for entertaining my kiddos this morning !

QueerFatGirl
15 years ago

Happiest of Birthdays, Riley. You are a lucky, lucky little boy!

Rebecca
Rebecca
15 years ago

beautiful!

Happy 1st birthday Riley!!

Kelly
15 years ago

Do you know how some people look so tragically pretty when they cry? Yeah. I don’t. My face is all red, swollen and splotchy from watching Riley’s birthday video.

Is it weird that I love him?

Happy birthday, Riley!

Beth M
Beth M
15 years ago

I’m finally delurking to wish Riley a very happy first birthday!!
Linda, your words were so eloquent I was tearing up, and then you topped it off with that video. I enjoy your writing and the large doses of Riley cuteness everyday.
Thanks for allowing us to be a part of this past year.

Katie
Katie
15 years ago

Oh Man, totally crying. Hard.

Katie
Katie
15 years ago

Oh man, totally crying. Hard. That was absolutely beautiful.

Sarah
Sarah
15 years ago

Damn girl, you are the most amazing writer! Thank you for letting us peek in on your gorgeous family and share your joys (and sorrows) with you. Happy Birthday, Riley!

Pete
Pete
15 years ago

Yet another good post. Happy B’day Riley.

Kat
Kat
15 years ago

Beautiful letter. Wonderful video. I agree with mrsgryphon that it is one of the most touching posts that I’ve read, but I think that when Riley is all angsty at 14 instead of handing him that letter to read, you should read it yourself.
My oldest is 12 and I have gone back and read some of the stuff I wrote when he was born when I’ve been full of his moodiness and attitude. Trust me, you will appreciate it then.

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