There’s a birthday in the house.

I know tomorrow won’t really make you a whole year older. You’ve been hard at work checking off days and weeks and months since your last birthday paid us a visit.

But tomorrow, your new year, your new number, your little bit closer to grown officially announces itself. A homemade paper crown will adorn your head, streamers will drape across the room, and candles will flicker atop your cake as we sing. And I won’t be able to look away from the swiftness of time as another year blows by.

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You see, for a mama, somehow the air gets a bit thicker when you mark another year for your baby. A feeling rushes in that’s a strange mix of joy and sadness. It clings to us like the humidity of an August night.

It’s one of those hidden pieces of motherhood that can’t fully be known until you take a deep breath of the breeze that carries in your child’s birthday.

There’s so much happiness and gratitude for the gift of you. There’s awe as I take in all the ways you’ve grown. There’s excitement as I think of all that lies ahead. But the truth is, there’s also a touch of heartache as I say goodbye to the you of yesterday before the birthday breeze brings in tomorrow.

I’ve soaked in every piece of you this last year, every year. I know the exact pitch and sound of your sweet voice. I know just how the size and shape of your body feels snuggled into mine. I know what makes you laugh and what makes you cry. I know every, “Watch me Mom!” moment. I know the squinty smile that spreads across your face for your dad. I know what comforts you from a midnight waking.

Yes, I’ve loved this version of you well.

So forgive me, my love, if a tear finds me as I tuck you in tonight. I’ll rub your back and let my eyes try to memorize you, in this last night of another year that has moved faster than your mother’s heart.

At the door, I’ll pause, knowing as soon as it closes that birthday breeze will begin to blow in. I imagine it bringing a mist that will cover your room as you sleep. And as the sun rises to the new day, the dew that clung to yesterday will begin to vanish, taking along with it a bit more of your little every time.

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As your mama, I love each version of you so fully that sometimes I can’t help but really feel all the invisible goodbyes as you go about your growing.

But that’s also just the thing . . . I love ALL the versions of you SO fully.

And tomorrow when the morning comes and with it the trumpeting of your next number and your new year, I’ll scoop you right up and breathe in your new little bit bigger self.

Because while moms know the air can feel thick on these birthday eves, they also know it’s simply heavy with love.

There’s a birthday in the house.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

Emily Roussell

Emily Roussell is author of the tender children's book for new babies and moms, ‘Rock You Tonight.’ It reads like a lullaby, while telling the story of a tired and distracted mom who slows to fully embrace the wonder of and love for her baby. This book was penned when her first children, twins, were just months old. Life was exhausting, upside down, and …blissful. Find it in hard copy or kindle edition on Amazon! Emily and her husband gratefully enjoy a happy circus of life with four children. You can find her at Facebook.com/youarelovedemilyroussell