My 18-month-old exploring the University of Oklahoma campus.
It's difficult for me to summarize my feelings on the last six months. Not because you haven't made marked growth, but because when I think of you, I feel like you and I — as we know us now — has always been. It almost seems implausible to imagine my identity as one that isn't fluid with my small child, ebbing and flowing from one to two as only a mother and infant can. Between pregnancy and breastfeeding for 14 months, I shared my body with you for nearly two years. Though we have always been two separate beings, for much of your life up until this point I have lived and done so much for you — producing food for you, changing you, helping you sleep and regulate your emotions, etc. It's an experience that has humbled me, better taught me the meaning of charity, and given me a small glimpse into how and why the Savior would so willingly sacrifice himself for all of us. Divine love — charitable love, Christ-like love — inspires undeviating selflessness and sacrifice. What a gift, what a joy it has been to feel that love for you.
Happy birthday, Mercedes! This year has come and gone in a flash, and it will always stand out in my memory as a defining year in both of our lives. This last year I grew into the role of "mother" and you flourished from a dependent, squishy newborn in to a vivacious, tenacious toddler. Watching your personality emerge has been a joy, and I suspect it will continue to be a treat for years to come.
The worst part about your birthday approaching is every day I think I'm doing my best to soak up every precious, simple moment — but when I lay my head to rest at night I still find myself wistfully thinking about the hours with you that just slipped through my fingers. I can't tell you how often I pour my heart out in grateful prayer for you. You are my sunshine. You bring me every joy. I have always wanted to be a mom, but becoming your mom has lived up to every expectation I ever had for motherhood.