When you have a new baby, you expect a lot of things. You expect to have sleepless nights, to worry about their eating, to watch them hit milestones, and to witness them grow and change and become who they are meant to be. What you don’t expect is the extraordinary impact your baby will have on you. How much you will also grow and change and become who you are meant to be. How much of a better person you will become.
I’m a planner. So when I got pregnant with my daughter, Ellie, I was prepared. I knew what bottles I would use, what bassinet she’d sleep in, even what methods of feeding and parenting I would use as she got older. I knew that our lives would change, that sleep would become a luxury, and date nights would be slim. But I never planned for how she would change me as a person. Today, my daughter is about to turn two years old. In the past two years, she has made me a happier person, a brighter person, a more easy-going person. She has made me better.
To Ellie, thank you.
You Made Me Worry Less
I worry about small things and big things. I worry so much, my husband often jokes that he isn’t sure there is a time when I am not worried about something. Before you came along, I worried about everything. Would you be healthy? Smart? Would you like me? Now that you’re here, I’ve slowly realized that I don’t need to worry about you at all. You are pure proof that everything will work out just perfectly. In your short life, we have had ER visits, worries about finances, worries about your food intake, regressions, and milestones. But through it all, we’ve come out the other side smiling. You have shown me that worrying doesn’t solve problems, but working things out together as a family always does.
You Made Me Slow Down
I never appreciated downtime quite as I do now. And I don’t mean when you nap or fall asleep at night (although those times are relaxing). You have taught me to truly chill out, to slow down, and enjoy an afternoon of watching you play with toys. To appreciate days where we don’t change out of our pajamas. You have taught me that being “busy” isn’t as important as embracing the time we have together. It has helped me not only enjoy parenthood so much more, but it has also helped me enjoy every aspect of my life, from the exciting to the mundane.
You Made Me Appreciate the Little Things
Before you came along, I was always looking at what big thing would come next. I always had to have something exciting—a vacation, a party, a night out—to look forward to, to get through my days. Now, the things I look forward to happen within those days. While they may seem small, they make me happier than any big event ever did. I look forward to your smile when I get you up in the mornings. I look forward to you exploring and learning new things. And I look forward to watching you sleep and even the way your hair grows a bit more each day. I look forward to you.
Outside of parenthood, I appreciate all those little things I once took for granted—having a loving husband, great family and friends, a comfortable home, and so much more. You have shown me that it’s really the little things that make up a beautiful life.
You Made Me More Compassionate
Seeing you become a little person has made me realize that everyone around me is truly doing their best. Small things that used to bother me about friends and family I now find endearing. Understanding what it takes to be a mother has made me more compassionate to my own parents. Loving another human the way I love you has made me feel more deeply for your father and my friends. It has made me more compassionate about even broader things like social justice and equality. It has made me passionate about ensuring that everyone is treated with respect, no matter who they are—all because I would want that same respect shown to you.
You Made Me Happier
Some days, even on rough days, I feel like all I do is smile. A bad mood can strike, and then you say something funny, and it instantly vanishes. You have taught me that being angry and upset over inconsequential things is not worth my energy. Your innocence has shown me how to look at the bright side of things. To be more optimistic in all aspects of life. Your laugh, smile, funny faces, and how easy it is to make you happy have all inadvertently made me a happier person.
You Made Me Who I Was Always Meant to Be
I always knew I wanted to be a mother. But after two years of raising you, I truly believe that being your mother was who I was always meant to be. Of course, I have a career and interests outside of motherhood. But the person I have become since you entered the world is the better person I have been striving to be my whole life.
It’s hard to believe that a tiny little human could have such a big impact on me, but Ellie, you are my greatest gift, and I will forever love you for making me who I am. I can’t wait for us to continue to grow together. Thank you for making me a better person.