I can vividly recall the day I received your baby book in the mail. I had just started to really feel your kicksyou were only a tiny thing floating around in my belly. BabyCenter told me you were just about the size of an ear of corn. I remember thinking this was funny because I had loved eating corn on the cob as a child, and I wondered if you would love it too. Anyway, to me, you were always bigger.

You, my darling, have the prized place of the first grandchild on both sides of the family (and don’t you know it by now?). As such, we had been gratefully receiving gifts since practically the moment the doctor had heard the pitter-patter of your little heart and we had deemed it acceptable to divulge the secret of you.

The gifts came from far and widefrom NY to Philly; from Maryland to Chicago, Boston, India, D.C, and of course, Dubai.

Darling, your Baby Nani and Ashok Uncle live in Dubai. I can just see Baby Nani perusing Etsy daily (hourly, maybe?), searching for gifts to welcome you. I am thankful she has good taste because they sent SO. MANY. GIFTS.

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I was enamored the second I opened the package. Your baby book is a beautiful turquoise color with an antique-looking silver clasp that immediately made me say, “Jane Austen,” (I don’t know why–no, it probably does not make sense).

I had images of myself sitting at our dining room table with a steaming cup of chamomile tea, smilingly jotting down all the details.

And for some reason, I imagined doing this every single day, or at the very least, once a week. I have never wanted to miss even a second of your life.

Let’s fast forward 10 months: I have opened your baby book exactly twice. It is sparsely populated with a few details about your height and weight at birth and at your one-month appointment.

Currently, I am sitting at our dining room table, but it is so overrun with your possessions there is barely enough space for my laptop. There are countless teething rings strewn about, interspersed with all those VTech toys that need their batteries replaced. The Graco chair which you have long outgrown sits in the corner, glaring accusingly at me because it really should be in the basement by now. And your freshly cleaned highchair cover takes up literally half the table as it dries.

There is a cup of tea sitting in front of me, but it has long gone cold, and there is also a glass of red wine sitting right next to it.

Darling, there are so many ways that my image of motherhood is different than I had envisioned on that long-ago day when you were only as big as an ear of corn. We have both changed.

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And the thing is, I know this dichotomy will continue. You and reality have bulldozed right over that image I held so dear. And that’s OK. I want you to know . . . 

I have not written in your baby book, but I have comforted you countless times as you cried.

I have not written in your baby book, but I have nursed (and sometimes cursed) in the middle of the night.

I have not written in your baby book, but I have been there for all your firsts: the smile, the giggle, the solid food, the army crawl, and then the real crawl, the diaper rash, and oh, there will be so many more!

I have not written in your baby book, but I have laughed with you as your Labrador brother licked your face.

I have not written in your baby book, but I have listened to you happily shout “Da-da” and then watched both your faces light up with glee.

I have not written in your baby book, but I have lifted you high above my head just to hear your delighted squeal.

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I have not written in your baby book, but I have changed so many diapers I briefly worried I had lost my sense of smell.

I have not written in your baby book, but I have watched you put literal stars in the eyes of your grandparents.

So, darling, I may not have written in your baby book, yet (please don’t count me out), but I have loved you deeply and fully every single day of your life.

Rhea Filipczak

Rhea Filipczak is a Pittsburgh-based writer and mom. She spent years working in the busy NYC marketplace and is grateful to have slowed her life down and discovered the best job of all: mom-chef-teacher-entertainer-writer-dog-walker . . . and the list goes on. She hopes her writing inspires others (especially new moms) to find beauty in everyday simplicity.