Ah, my baby girl, such is the lot of the third child to have their first birthday reflected upon more than a month late, isn't it? My apologies, my love.
You, though, are not a child to be ignored. Such personality! Fun and quirky, you demand laughter, interaction, and applause - from us, at least. You're less assertive around those you don't know, but even then your shy face is so inviting of coos and attention, and of course no one can get enough of those cheeks of yours.
Because you never like to be without something in your hand, you've carried around the oddest little security objects over the past year. It's often a Duplo person or a ball or, when I'm within reach, a fistful of my hair, but you're not fussy, you'll take whatever's nearest. Most recently, you became attached to a small tube of stretch mark cream (it didn't seem to do much for me anyway, so you're welcome to it). You'd fall asleep with it clutched in your adorably chubby little fist and reach for it first thing in the morning. Well, if only we were all so easily pleased, right?
Not that you're always content. Most of the time, yes, but your mood can swing with the best of them, happy one moment and distraught the next. You throw yourself backward, cry at the insult of smacking your head, then use your feet to push yourself across the floor on your back. You make a sad little "ooooo" sound, complete with round pursed lips. I try not to laugh at you, but oh, the cuteness. I can't get enough of you.
Your Daddy is utterly smitten with you as well. It's been heart-warming to watch him with you this past year. He was a pretty shy new father when your oldest brother was born. He didn't really know what to do with that little crying bundle. But that baby grew into a wild toddler and he warmed up to fatherhood with relish. When his second son arrived, he was pretty convinced that toddlers were his job and babies were mine. But you! You came along and he was certain that you liked him right from the beginning. I think he was just a little less gun shy the third time around, but who knows, maybe you really did like him better than your infant brothers did.
And now it's you taking your first tentative steps. Three, four, five, and then you fall down and look up with that proud grin on your face, just waiting for the laughter and applause. We give it happily, little one, just as happily as you give out kisses. You open your mouth wide and press it against our cheeks and we melt, all of us. Well, except for that one time when your kiss became a bite on your brother's lip. He wasn't happy about that and he let the whole grocery store know it, and then you joined in, the two of you sobbing your eyes out in front of the applesauce. Such is siblinghood - and motherhood - sometimes.
The one thing you won't tolerate is your father and I hugging. Kissing, of course, is right out. You start squawking as soon as we dare bridge those last few inches between us. Apparently you have no interest in any younger siblings right now. Don't worry, baby, I'm in no rush; I'm quite happy to enjoy your own sweet babyhood. But I'm not going to stop hugging your father, so get used to it.
You're still my snuggler, my cuddler, my sweet little thumb-sucker, and now you're growing into my sunshiny toddler as well. Happy (very belated) birthday, my love. I look forward to discovering more about the fascinating person God created you to be with each passing day.