Today, you turn one. I feel like it's one of those moments where I just can't find the right words.
I think of your eyes. Round and blue. Bluer when you're crying. I think of your hair. Straight, flyaway, and a little fuzzy in the back. I think of your squishy cheeks, your squishy belly, your squishy arms and legs. I think of that soft white baby skin that I brush my face against every chance I get.
I think of your baby babble. Your squeaks. Your high-pitched screams. I hear your sing-songy voice saying "da da" and "bye-bye" and "hi Tess!" You mimic so many words when we say them. I think of you wobbling all around the living room and kitchen, like a baby giraffe just learning to use her legs. You're so excited to be walking and trying so hard to keep up with your sisters...
Your sisters! I think of how, in the last month, they have not stopped loving on you. So many hugs and kisses and sisterly squeezes (which sometimes resemble headlocks.) I hear Elin's cartoon voice saying, "Hello little baby Tessie-bel," and I see Anna lunging at you for hugs and tickles anytime you get close enough to her. I see them both taking things away from you that you shouldn't be playing with and saying, "No Tessie-bel, not for you! You get hurt!"
I think of your ear-piercing screams when your sisters are being loud and crazy, and you want to be heard. I think of the way you walk up behind your sisters and depending on your mood, you either wrap them in a big bear hug or reach up and pull their hair until they shriek.
I think of how you always, ALWAYS wave to Auntie Jamie. Now you wave to everyone, but for awhile it was like waving was Auntie Jamie's "thing", and no one else knew about this cool little secret you two shared. I think of how it took you months to wave to me, yet everytime you saw Jamie you'd start waving and laughing.
I think of how lately, sleep is eluding you. I think you're finally pushing some more teeth through. Your sisters had all of their teeth by the time they turned one, and you've got four. But it's not stopping you from keeping up with us at the dinner table. You're totally over baby food and purees and now it's all about keeping up with your sisters with avocados and bananas and chicken and cheese.
Mostly, on your birthday and every day, really, I think of how much I love you, and how it's impossible to tell someone how much you actually love them. That there are no words in the English language that convey the pure, unconditional love your Dad and I feel for you and your sisters. I think of how blessed we are that God gave us you. I pray. I say thank you. I try to express my gratitude by being the best Mom I can be for you guys. I try to live in the moment and experience you and know you in all your one-year old glory. Some days I fail, but some days I succeed.
This love we have for you. For your sisters. It's huge. Bigger than you can imagine. Impossible to describe. And it's not because you bring us so much joy, or make us laugh or turn us into puddles of mush when you're being adorable. It's simply because you're you. We are so blessed.
Tess Isabel, I wish you the happiest of birthdays today and a year of wonderful things to come. (Your sister made you cupcakes with electric blue frosting, so I'll just turn away and let you enjoy.) Dad, Annaleise, Elin, and I are so happy you came to us. We love you more than you could possibly know. Our Tessie-bel. Our baby girl.
Happy Birthday, Sweet Baby Tess.