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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Ina
Ina
15 years ago

Happy birthday Riley.

mom on a wire
15 years ago

What a beautiful post.

JennPerryman
JennPerryman
15 years ago

I am bawling at my desk, that was wonderful. Of course, I’m also 6 months pregnant and my hormones are raging. Still- happy, happy birthday Riley. Can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

kattastrophe
kattastrophe
15 years ago

That was an amazing post. I think you should give a copy to that beautiful little boy when his first baby turns one. Then he will truely understand. Happy birthday Riley!

telegirl
telegirl
15 years ago

You’d think I’d grow a brain and know that I shouldn’t read this at work. I mean, it’s his first birthday, for chrissakes… like I didn’t expect that something beautiful and touching would be posted today?!

Thank you, Linda, for the beautiful post. Watching that video really made our pregnancy hit home for the first time. Soon, we’re going to go through the beautiful and frustrating steps that you have talked about in the past year. Watching Riley in the video made me finally realize–that could be our baby; giggling, laughing, crying, making us fall in love with them. I wish March would get here sooner!

Happy birthday, little man!!

Paula
Paula
15 years ago

Bravo!

Jo
Jo
15 years ago

That gave me goosebumps and tears. Beautifully written.
Happy Birthday Riley you cutie! :)

Mona
15 years ago

Really really sweet Linda. Happy birthday little Riley!

Tracy
Tracy
15 years ago

that was the BEST movie EVER

Happy 1st Birthday Riley!!!!

Dana
Dana
15 years ago

Really beautiful.

Bitter Betty
15 years ago

You just made a bitter, old childless bitch cry. Phooey.

Happy B-day, Riley!

samantha
samantha
15 years ago

The entry itself had me bawling like a baby, then the video… do enjoy making people cry?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY RILEY!

ang
ang
15 years ago

A year? Daaamn!

Happy Birthday Riley.

Your mom totally rocks.

victoria
victoria
15 years ago

Aw shit, make me cry at work why don’t you.

kara marie
15 years ago

Happy birthday, Riley!

MademoiselleCaroline
15 years ago

A very Happy First Birthday to Riley, and now please pass the tissue so I can wipe those tears off my face. You’ve made a mom-to-be very, very proud to have the privilege to bring someone into this world. You rock, Sundry! Your video is just amazing. Kisses from Quebec City, Canada.

Christine
15 years ago

Happy, happy birthday, Riley! And congratulations to you and JB, Linda, on flourishing in the first year of parenthood, surviving it all, and recognizing just how profound and beautiful and tremendous it all is.

Shawna
15 years ago

Happy Birthday Riley! It’s been great watching you grow up through your first year!

diane
diane
15 years ago

This is such a beautiful entry. You surprise me every day with your ability to stand back and appreciate each day of being a mom (even the tough ones). Your words today were beautiful and the video was a delicious bonus. Happy birthday Riley. You’re a lucky little boy!!

Chloe
15 years ago

Happy birthday Riley!

Sara
15 years ago

GAH! Thanks for making my mascara run. Awesome!

Sugar
15 years ago

That was special!

Mama Ritchie
15 years ago

Happy Birthday Riley!!! I love watching you grow up and express yourself, turning from a squirming little baby to a god-honest boy. I can’t wait to be close to you again, so I can see you in person instead of onscreen. You have a wonderful mother, and when you are old enough you will read this entry and you will know that no matter what, you are loved, and there are two people in the world who are your biggest fans. Thanks for making my friend so happy and complete.

Scott
15 years ago

Happy Birthday, Riley! You’re a lucky kid. (Also lucky: your parents.)

tea
tea
15 years ago

That was lovely! Can you tell us the name of the CD where the music came from? I clicked on the link, but there were a ton of choices…the music was awesome! (And your babe is super cute too!)

omuchacha
15 years ago

That was wonderful! Such a cutie at all the stages. So, so good!

Katie
15 years ago

I don’t even know you and yet I am sobbing! That was so wonderful. You have summarized exactly what every mother feels. I snatched up my 9 month old and sobbed into her hair while watching that. Thank you! Happy Birthday to your sweet family!

LLL
LLL
15 years ago

That was so cpmpletley amazing, fom your eloquent written entry to the amazing video (I LOVE the music). You are so very talented. Tearing up at work — wow. Happy Birthday Riley!

Cee
Cee
15 years ago

That entry was so beautiful and made me feel really teary. But the super-cute video at the end cheered me right up :-)

Mandy
Mandy
15 years ago

What a gorgeous family! Happy Birthday, Riley, and many more.

Rachel
Rachel
15 years ago

I’m just 5 weeks pregnant and reading this post fills me with great anticipation. I look forward to the type of love you describe. Thank you for sharing. Happy Birthday Riley!

Cris
15 years ago

okay, you should have a warning posted… making me cry!

beautiful writing.

happy, happy birthday riley! and kudos to a wonderful mom and dad. being a parent must be the most amazing journey of all.

wickedfun
wickedfun
15 years ago

Happy Birthday Riley!

Blessed be.

Stacee
Stacee
15 years ago

Happy birthday, Riley! And to Sundry and JB!

Nikki
15 years ago

Happy Birthday, Mr. Rileypants! That was truly a beautiful video and a heartfelt description of your joy and love for your boy. What a great year :)

anna
anna
15 years ago

Will be a mum in 3 months……I already love this little bean inside me more than anything and you have just made me realise how lucky I am to be joining you soon on the journey of motherhood.
Happy birthday to Riley, I hope his life is filled with happiness and joy forever!
(sniff sniff, where the heck is a tissue when you need it?) A x

Rachel
15 years ago

Haven’t read the comments yet but I’m guessing that at least three women will seriously stop taking the Pill next month because of that video. ;) Heck, it almost makes me wish I still had a uterus myself.

Happy birthday Riley, and happy first-Riley-birthday Linda and JB. Isn’t it amazing how much more our kids’ birthdays can mean (at this time x number of years ago we were…) than our own?

Lesley
Lesley
15 years ago

That video brought laughter and a few tears. So amazing how quickly they grow and change. Thanks for sharing the moments with us, Sundry.

Libby
Libby
15 years ago

Linda, your entry drew such great pictures in my head, I could absolutely see you whispering into magical words into Riley’s ear. I don’t have any kids myself, and yet this made me weep like a newborn. You made me miss my own mom, in such a good way. Thanks for writing.

Innermost_thoughts
15 years ago

Crying. Like. A. Baby.

Thankyou for sharing these special moments, it was wonderful. There just aren’t any words.

Happy Birthday Riley!

Paige
15 years ago

Oh god. Can’t stop weeping. Just beautiful. Happy Birthday!!

Meg
Meg
15 years ago

That video was so sweet! And what a beautifully written tribute to your son! Seriously, this whole entry is so touching.

Happy birthday, Riley!

And happy one year anniversary of becoming Mom and Dad, Linda and JB!

Lauren
15 years ago

What a great way to end my long day of work. The baby squeals just tug at my heart!!!

justmouse
15 years ago

holy cow! has it been a YEAR already?!?!

happy birthday, little man!

Jem
Jem
15 years ago

Happy Birthday little Riley!!! I can’t believe it’s a year…I remember hearing that you were pregnant like it was yesterday!

Melissa
15 years ago

I haven’t read all your other comments, so please excuse me if I repeat, but…

I cried at your post and your video. It’s amazing how he’s grown. Your journey and family is beautiful. I think my ovaries just got a little hopeful. :)
Thankyouthankyouthankyou for sharing with us.

pippa
15 years ago

Happy Birthday Riley! And Happy Birthday Mama Sundry. You got him this far… only bajillions of minutes to go. :)

Also, while I’ve thought he was a mini-JB since, like, the first picture, that LAST blip… that last smile? All you, chica.

Anne L.
Anne L.
15 years ago

Oh, happy first birthday Riley! Jeez, Linda, way to make me all weepy. That was a beautiful post and a truly awesome movie. And congratulations to you and JB on your first year as parents!

Mary O
Mary O
15 years ago

Oh wow! Happy birthday little Riley!

That video was awesome.

Ghost of Sarah
15 years ago

If I was alive after seeing that cuteness (and hearing that laugh, omg), I would write how if I have a boy and he doesn’t end up looking and acting exactly like Riley, I’ll be sending him back. Because, seriously, how can any other baby compare to that? My God.

Good job setting the bar, Sundry.