Yesterday was Buddha’s birthday. We spent the day together, just the two of us, hanging out, goofing around, and napping. It was great. He was oblivious to the monumental occasion that it was. He didn’t even care about the presents he opened last Saturday and was much more interested in chewing on the wrapping paper than anything else. But that’s just fine with me. I quite enjoyed his birthday. The past 625,000 minutes, give or take, have been amazing. Watching him develop from a scrawny newborn, to a chubby infant to a babbling baby now to an almost toddler has been so incredible. I can’t even describe it. Our relationship has changed quite a bit over the last year as well. In the beginning, I was his primary caregiver. Except for the breastfeeding, I did it all. From, literally, the day he was born, I was his human pillow. His favorite place to sleep was on my chest, his head nestled comfortably between my breasts, his little heinie up in the air. I was called in on emergency on multiple occasions because he refused to sleep elsewhere for anybody else. I woke up many a morning to the wonderful aroma of spit up in my hair. I gave him his first bath, treated his first diaper rash, fed him his first food and watched his first tooth come in. I was there when he got his first cold, and his second, and his third. I was there when he discovered his penis and his feet, and his ears, in that order. I was there when he learned to lift his head up. When he first smiled. Whe he rolled over and when he sat up. I rocked him and paced until I thought my arms would fall off. I listened to him scream until I really thought I might smash my head into a wall. I grew so accustomed to the ubiquitous smell of vomit and poop around me that my friends were wary to be down-wind from me. For the first five months of his life, he was my baby. I fed him, bathed him, held him, loved him like he was my own. Like I was his mother. For reasons beyond which I was able to understand at the time, his mother, was unable to fully bond with him. Practically refused, in fact, to hold him volunatirly unless she was nursing him. And so he was mine. As unhealthy as it might have been, he was mine. The first time they all went on a trip without me, I suffered from Buddha withdrawls. But slowly, as time progressed, as he got older, became more interactive, as we spent more time apart, and he spent more time with his own mother, I began to get some perspective. Our relationship evolved. I was still his favorite place to sleep but no longer the only place to sleep. He learned how to sit up, how to reach for his own toys, how to laugh at himself. Together we laughed, took walks, went to the park, played with toys and I watched him grow into a real person, full of personality and spirit. Into an independent little boy who didn’t need me as much anymore. And so, when I had four weeks off, I got it into my head that I could live without the little tyke. So I took the job in NY. Little did I know the effect of the monopoly he has on my heart. We didn’t skip a beat. We’ve fallen right back into our old rhythm. Only now he’s a year old. Twelve months. And the past twelve months (two of which I missed out on) haven’t been easy. On me or his parents, but I can honestly say that I wouldn’t trade a single one of those minutes for anything else. Because watching him blossom and grow into the affectionate, friendly, happy, independent little person he is, has been so worth it. Nevermind the crappy pay and the intense hours. I have grown so much in the past twelve months, all thanks to that little boy. He has taught me so much about joy and compassion and unconditional love. About sacrifice and responsibility. About living for others instead of only myself. He’s made me a better person. And when he crawls to me, clings to my legs and cries to be picked up just to give me a sloppy wet kiss on my face and then be put down again … it puts it all in perspective. And even though I miss the tiny little infant stage, or even the pudgy baby stage, I can’t even begin to describe the amazing place he’s at right now. That is what this is all about. Because one slobbery smile from him is all I need to make my day. Happy Birthday Buddha!

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