25 May To My Baby On Their First Birthday (during a pandemic)
My dearest little one,
I can’t believe you are turning one. How did this happen?! I blinked and here you are, starting to walk and turning into a toddler. A toddler. Not a baby. This fills me with both joy and sadness. I got you this far!
As we celebrate your first birthday in isolation, the significance of this milestone is heightened. Your first birthday won’t have the huge cake and guests and presents that your brother’s did. But that doesn’t matter. Not at all. If there’s anything that this pandemic has taught us it’s this: health and family and love really are all that matters. Please let that knowledge be my birthday gift to you. Please let me remember this and use this to guide how I raise you.
In the darkest few months as we have watched the world shut itself away, watched in fear as family at the other side of the world face grave danger, we have also seen the light. As a family, as a community and I hope as a global society. Perhaps the biggest lesson we have learned is that human connection, real concrete human connection is so important for us to thrive.
My generation and even my parents (your grandparents) are perhaps the first in a long time to never have experienced first hand, large scale global trauma or crisis. My parents were raised by those who had experienced wars, devastating world wars and this no doubt shaped their world view. But my generation has never known fear on this scale. And perhaps that is where we have gone wrong, become greedy, neglected our relationships with each other and our world. So maybe, just maybe, this, the darkest of times, can show us some light.
Perhaps I can raise you with the knowledge that sometimes, things do go wrong. We are not invincible and we rely on others, the community that we have built around us when things crumble. Our real heroes are not those on sporting fields or movie screens, but those putting their lives on the line to save ours.
The internet allows us to create communities and support each other and is certainly of value but there is nothing more special than a hug, and embrace, given with love. Nothing more special than dinner with friends, easy conversation and laughter echoing throughout a room. There is nothing more enlivening than freedom, fresh air, time in nature and choices. There is nothing more beautiful than a warm embrace in an international arrivals hall.
You haven’t attended any baby classes and we haven’t been rushing around ticking boxes of what to do with babies in their first year. Days have been spent in the garden and finding fun at home. On our daily walks (which we are lucky to have the liberty to do) we have seen sidewalk chalk rainbows and teddy bears in windows. We have met the eyes of strangers (at a 1.5 metre distance) with warm, genuine, connection and greeting. More has been found in less.
As you turn one the streets are quiet, the hospitals full, the shops empty and the planes grounded. But hearts are full of love and compassion.
May I remember this and may I raise you to do the same. May you never forget that your first birthday is so much more precious in the current climate as gratitude for you, for us and for our family and community is so poignant.
Happy birthday my little man.
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