A Mother’s Reflections on her Daughter’s First Birthday


Let me paint a picture for you of my daughter. To see Skylar is to see the biggest, glittery eyes you have ever seen. They are love marbles. They light up constantly, especially when my son is around. And during breakfast. She has light brown hair that is starting to curl around her ears and at the nape of her neck. A little button nose and a wide smile that showcases her 8 little teeth sit sweetly between delicious cheeks. She’s probably wearing a food-stained shirt that rides up her rotund belly. She is clapping her chubby little hands gleefully. Her thighs still have one last roll, my go-to tickle spot. And on her left shin (just last week!) an oval-shaped beauty mark appeared. Left alone for more than a minute she will stand up or crawl to find you. She is engagement. She is joy. She is my spectacular one year old daughter, Skylar.


In the description above I gave you the details, the traits only a mother could know, to show just how hard I am trying to be mindful and present. You would never know how often I really do sneak away to scroll through my phone, get rage-y and check the clock. In truth, infancy is not my favorite time. I have definitely enjoyed Skylar this past year, and will explore that more in the paragraphs to follow, but I will share with you that I am quite eager to meet the lady Skylar is becoming.

I am a speech therapist mom, so what that means, is that I have developmental norms screaming at me constantly. I work in special education, and so my perspective can be diagnostic. While in graduate school, I learned about how to research properly and thoroughly, and so I applied that same fervor to mothering. There are a million parenting styles, it turns out. To do any one with fidelity is a tall task, and probably futile. Regardless, in my brief time as a mom I have tried to adopt pieces of conscious, attachment and responsive parenting approaches. To reconcile these two sides of me: the diagnostician and the mindful, authentic parent, has been a challenge, maybe the challenge of my life? The worrying mother and the mother at peace are very much in conflict at this stage, and I will try to keep them in balance as my children continue to develop. And as I reflect on my daughter now.


Skylar’s birth was calm and gentle, until it wasn’t. Then it was fiery and incredibly intense. Just like Skylar. Since birth, she has been generally calm and easy going, until something really does rattle her, at which time she can take a while to return to baseline. But again, those times are rare. More often than not she has been eager to lock eyes, watch and interact with others. I have loved catching these moments, when she shows her playful side. She is definitely a friend you want to have.

I felt beyond empowered by Skylar’s birth. I felt renewed, redeemed. I felt as if my family, and myself, was wholly complete. Her completely intervention-free, natural birth reminded me what my body could do, and my ability to breastfeed her thereafter has been a continuous reminder ever since. These blessings have been some of the best pieces of this past year.

Skylar has been a gift to me in so many ways. One of the ways that goes unseen is how she has restored my faith in my own body and in my own mothering potential. When I pause to acknowledge that my first born’s infancy was completely different, I can see just how demoralizing it truly was. Breastfeeding did not go as planned, my son had grown and developed “slowly,” and he was not a joyful baby. I was an isolated mother, in that I had no close friends nearby to confide in. It was a lonely and treacherous time. Now, and perhaps this is egotistical to admit, I see Skylar’s growth and success as my own. Her size, her confidence, her joy- all of these things came from the nutrition and safety she derived from me. That is powerful! That is life-giving, to both of us.

I work full-time, as does my husband. Very briefly during my son’s infancy I felt some guilt around that, but that evaporated quickly. I have never felt guilty about working this past year either. Despite the struggle to stave off the diagnostician within me, I love that I can work full time and mother my kids. For me, I feel it makes me a better mom. It rounds me out and infuses me with energy that sustains me through the inevitable long nights and fiery meltdowns. I am grateful to have my job as a refuge, and additionally grateful not to feel any guilt or resentment around that.


With Skylar’s birth also came the birth of two siblings. For better or worse, at least thus far, it is hard for me to talk about Sky without talking about her big brother, Micah. If I could have done it differently, I would have liked more spacing between the two children. Two years apart is asking a lot of the older sibling. It is asking that he understand and cope at a level at which he neuroligically is unable. And so there has been some friction over this past year. Skylar, though, has shown nothing but admiration and love for Micah. She smiles the biggest and laughs the hardest when he is around. These have been some of the best moments, too. Micah has had to grapple with the shared attention, and I am so proud of him for doing so. He is a gentle boy, and so loving, with a strong sense of loyalty. In his world, I had broken that loyalty to him. As much as you can prepare your first born for a sibling, you just cannot know how they will react until the time comes. Micah has never been aggressive with Skylar, but I can see when he struggles to regulate himself, that his sister might be a piece of that. I am hopeful that a true love for one another will develop and they will become best friends one day.


Skylar, the toddler. That does elicit some sadness from me, in a primal way. Her and I have been a dyad. She has eaten from me, she has slept with me, she has sought comfort from me. These things will change. I know I will feel proud of her for mastering new skills and showing her independence, but I can see myself missing that prized position I have held in her world. For most of her life, I alone have met all of her basic needs. That has been such an honor and a privilege. 

Also, a very real sacrifice. I will not miss pumping 2 to 3 times a day. There will be a day (we are not there yet) when I will not miss waking up 3 or more times a night to feed and comfort her. There will be a day I will not miss the bodily aching that comes with rocking her for 30 minutes to an hour before each nap.

Or maybe I will.

In all likelihood, Skylar will be our last baby. So with her, so too ends all of these experiences. With each birthday and milestone, we celebrate them with finality. It’s quite a duality: Skylar’s firsts signal the last for her mom. There is rebirth and death, in a small way, with each celebration. This is our last first birthday, which makes it a little more special, tinged with grief.


It is my nature to be future-oriented. I am always thinking and re-thinking my 5- and 10-year plans. So to this end I am excited about Skylar’s birthday! We are moving onward, closer to achieving new things in the years ahead. I can already see her cooperative-playing, conversing, walking, problem-solving. What will her voice sound like when she says, “I love you”? 

The idea of being a role model to Skylar is fuel for life. I pray she can feel safe enough with me to share her feelings. I hope I can guide, without controlling. I aim to listen, without correcting. In the very real future, I want her to know that I am here whenever she needs me, but I have complete faith in her, and trust her independence.

My hopes for you, Skylar, are that you will never lose your zest for life, your curiosity, and your warmth. I hope that the people in your life treat you well, but if they don’t, you will rise above with integrity. I hope that you will be brave and kind, by standing up for yourself and your friends and neighbors. My greatest wish for you, my daughter, is that you find happiness and pride in who you truly are, while still striving and enjoying the process of being your best self. 

I am thrilled at the prospect of watching you blossom, Skylar. It has been a beautiful year of life, and I relish the thought of seeing you continue to discover and explore your world as it grows. I am grateful to be here.

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