monthly update, motherhood, parenting

Happy Twelve Month Birthday

Dear Waleed,

On Saturday you turned one year old. When you were born this day felt as remote as people building bungalows on Mars but people must be inspecting granite counter tops and negotiating closing costs on the red planet because its happened. You’re one. And you’ve gone from this:

To this:

You love the outdoors. Your favorite activity is ‘helping’ us water the grass and by default, watering yourself. Speaking of grass, you no longer fear it. Instead, you express domination over said grass by pulling it out with gusto and flinging it over your head which makes us smile [and cringe because well, we sort of spent a lot of money to lay that grass you’re yanking with abandon]. Speaking of dominance your grandmothers sought to dominate the curliness that is your hair. When pleas for a hair cut failed they applied enough gel to straight-spike a horse’s mane. The result? ‘business’ in the front, ‘party’ in the back.

We celebrated your birthday with a picnic with your grandparents, Mamu Ali, and some of your closest friends. [And by your closest friends I mean people about as old as you who also had no clue where they were or why they were there]. Cutting the cake was fun, opening the gifts sweet, but my favorite part of the day was 7:02pm. Last year that time you were born and I was too weak to hold you. For ten hours I couldn’t. Seems like a short span of time, but for you it was a lifetime. My heart literally ached to pull you close to me. I remember watching you swaddled asleep in the bassinet next to me and feeling overwhelmed; already I was failing as a parent. In that moment I feared the year to come. This May, amidst gift bags and wrapping paper, at 7:02pm I scooped you up. I held you. And I kissed you like I wanted to one year ago. Its hard now to remember why I felt so afraid- I had nothing to fear; I’ve lived a lifetime of joy in these past 365 days.

After smothering kissing you it was time for your favorite part of the day. Each month we’ve celebrated your birthday with a photo shoot with Mr. Bear and a candled cupcake to mark the passage of time. You could never actually eat the cupcake as it was meant to be decorative- little did I understand that babies don’t remain immobile children for long as these sample of months show all too clearly:

Month one: Cupcake? What cupcake? [And yes, sorry kiddo, mama was having a bad fashion sense day- I blame it on sleep deprivation- and yes I blame that on pretty much everything!]

By month five curiosity grew
Month Eight: Curiosity became desire
Month 9: Desire denied = very angry baby

But this month? We did your monthly photo-shoot. We plopped you in your chair, dressed you up in your cupcake eating outfit sent by your sweet Khala, and finally, you ate that cupcake:

and I’m pretty sure it was everything you hoped it would be

Someone said to me, A first birthday celebration is for the parents since a kid has no clue what’s going on. That’s the equivalent of saying the sun is hot. Ofcourse it is. You might throw this back at me twelve years hence but you didn’t ask to be born. I did. I wanted nothing- and I mean nothing- more than to hold you in my arms. Parenting is hard work, there are sleepless nights, poopy explosions career ambiguities and a narrowing of personal time and space but I do this all not because I’m selfless. Quite the opposite. I do it because you are the best part of me. You are the best thing I ever did. In giving I gain. In doing I receive. And no matter what I will always love you. I loved you when you were two lines on a pregnancy test. I loved you when you were a flicker on the ultrasound machine and a four-chambered heart or a kick against my womb.  Fly a kite, ride a bike, get straight A’s, be the first desi NBA super-star. Or don’t. I’ll love you either way.

I planned to stop writing you monthly letters now that you’re one. I also thought we’d be checking out the housing market on Mars [though that commute. . .] by your first birthday too. These moments when I sit down to reflect on the month past mean a lot to me and now, I’m not sure I want to stop. I hope when you’re old enough to read this you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve loved writing them.

Happy First Birthday my love. I  can’t wait for all that is to come. What fun we will have, you and I.


Your Mama

22 thoughts on “Happy Twelve Month Birthday”

  1. Thanks Pixie!

    Thanks Cecily! I'm sure you won't be surprised to know that it was your monthly letters and the montly letters Dooce wrote, that inspired me to write these to W. When W was just a dream, I'd read your and Dooce's letters and hope for a day I would write mine too 🙂 Did you write monthly updates for four years? Impressive!


  2. Beautifully written, and sentiments with which I can relate most definetly. Congrats to you and your husband and ofcourse the lil man on this special milestone!


  3. Awww 🙂
    I often wonder about our relationship with words. As important as they are, sometimes they are not needed!


  4. Thanks Anon!

    Maleeha, thanks 🙂 I'm sure these are universal emotions aren't they? All of our children are unique but our love for them crosses all boundaries and unites us.

    C, bittersweet is the exactly right word!!!

    A, yes, sometimes they can't do a moment justice 🙂

    Mystic, thank you so much for your duaas. 🙂


  5. What a sweet letter! Waleed is a very lucky boy MashAllah. Glad to hear his birthday went so well. 🙂 I am excited about Rania's first birthday, which is coming far too soon!


  6. Salaam Aisha,

    This is possibly the most adorable letter I've ever read written by a mother to her baby! MashaAllah. May Allah always keep Waleed in the best of health, and continue to bestow His many blessings upon him always.

    I hope he had a wonderful birthday (it certainly looks like he did). He is just way too cute, mA. ♥


  7. Happy birthday, Waleed! One year, my, you have grown… Next you'll be pointing at each person that says silly things about milestones and other big words! ;-))
    You have a wonderful boy, Aisha. Congratulations!


  8. First-time commenter here. Happy birthday, Waleed! I love your blog, and I love this letter. The unconditional love that shines through is just awesome.

    My daughter is almost 8 months and I write her letters. I always thought when we hit 12 months I would stop but I am not so sure. I am a writer and to me, it's our equivalent of her baby book 🙂

    Thanks for writing–your posts are always insightful.



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