for {Sophia}

And I know that I will say that you grew too fast and that time passed too quickly.
And I know that I will look back on these photos of you and say, "that's my baby."
And I know that the last 365 days were days of discovery, days of just-making-it-through, days of smiles, of treasures, days of wonder, and days of learning love.
And of these 365 days, my hands have held you and rocked you, have nurtured, you have cleaned you, have taken you into myself and whispered, "I love you." Each day. And each night as you are fully enveloped in sleep, when I step lightly into your room and touch your soft head.

And my throat is not dry telling you how valuable you are or repeating the word to each object you point at.
My eyes have not tired looking at you--staring into your eyes and watching what you see.
My ears have not become numb as you cry, as you scream, as you found your voice and said, "mama," and cooed softly in that moment between restlessness and sleep.
And my arms do not get sore from picking you up over and over again and holding your soft body--sometimes constantly in movement--near my heart.
For it's when the night turns to day and your tiny body wakes--refreshed with new movement--you call out in words you only know the meaning to, wondering when I will walk into your room. And although the thought of an uninterrupted sleep-in crosses my mind, my heart also starts to speed with the anticipation of your smile that somehow makes your cheeks even chubbier. Oh, your beautiful face. Oh, for another day to spend with you.

Sophia, you have become. Real.
You cannot lose my love.
And I pray you will know the love of your Heavenly Father.
This mothering heart has grown.

I am privileged to get to know you in all of your tenderness and innocence.
In all of your curiosity and boldness.
In all of your laughter and peek-a-boos. In all of your "owies" and bumps.
In all of your smashed banana on your face.
In all of your strength holding onto my fingers as we walk together.
In the congestion of a cold and the pain of growing teeth.
I get to know you, Sophia, in all of the two a.m. feedings and lullabies.
In all of your one-sock-missing footsteps and naked baby crawl-aways.
I get to know you, every day, in all of your speechless amazement at how things work and why birds fly.
In your "oof" that mimics each dog bark and in your fingers that explore the teeth in my mouth.
I get to know you, Sophia.
In your kisses and hugs, in your bopping dance moves, in your wide grins, and teary eyes.

Real. For this is what real is.
For another year, Sophia, you will continue to show me how real you are. And my love for you will grow.

Happy birthday sweet child.