365 Days of Being Mommy: A Love Letter to My Daughter’s First Year


Custom headband created by Inspired by Lanna.

By Jenn Press Arata

It feels like just yesterday I was making labor inducing eggplant, angry at the world that I was six days past my due date. Between us, I was quiet fearful something would suddenly go wrong when I was oh-so-close to the finish line. It’s hard to believe how long that last week of pregnancy dragged on, yet how quickly I blinked and a year has passed. I always knew I would love being a mommy. Wow, did you prove me right.

It’s been..

365 days of making up lyrics to silly, sentimental songs, and memorizing so many children’s books I could read them with my eyes closed.

365 days of dancing around the room, making funny faces, teaching, learning and growing…together.

A whole year of more love than I ever knew existed; for you, for your daddy, for the new role I get to play.

An entire twelve months of gratitude, of seeing the world through a new pair of eyes, of celebrating milestones. An entire year of firsts for absolutely everything.

365 days of believing each moment ‘just doesn’t get better than this,’ then being in perpetual awe of how it constantly does.

365 days of pride. Of joy. Of pure bliss. Of feeling at peace, at home, and fulfilled.

365 days of worry. Of wondering if we’re doing it right. Of making sure you’re okay. Of feeling like a total circus act. Of never leaving the house without at least one bag packed. Of neurotically grabbing another pacifier, 3 more diapers, 6 more of your favorite toys on the way out, ‘just in case’.

A whole year of playgroup and play dates and music classes and library circle times and baby yoga and My Gym and Kidville and meeting new moms, and feeling like we’re all in this together, and making friends for you because you’re too young to do that on your own.

365 days of feeling accomplished every time I took a shower or got out of the house or wore a pair of matching socks.

365 days of making all the baby food from scratch and traveling with a mini cooler, then giving in to buying portable food pouches. 365 days of saving the hair from your first bang trim, and the receipt from your birth announcement, but never writing in the baby book.

A whole year of change. Of breathing in the intoxicating scent of a newborn snuggled on my chest for hours, then realizing you’re suddenly a toddler.

365 days of raw emotion that I’m responsible for this human being and wondering how I got so damn blessed.

A whole year of being unable to fathom how friggen cute you are. When you laugh. When you cry. When you have bows in your hair. When you have food on your face. When you throw Cheerios on the floor. When you roll and crawl and stand and climb and take steps. When you wave and smile at everyone you see. When you splash in the water from the dog bowl although you know you’re not supposed to. When you don’t give up. When you say words. When you communicate. When you truly understand. When you are a perfect angel. When you are rebellious. When you sleep. When you first wake up. When you breathe. Because you’re mine. And it’s unconditional.

365 days of blankets and warm socks and footed pajamas and sleep sacks and swaddles and burp cloths and onesies and lovies and tiny spoons and sippy cups and bathtime and tummy time and SPF and sun hats and video monitors and Mamaroos and Jumparoos and Bumbo seats and bouncy seats and pack and plays and ExerSaucers and strollers.

365 days of refilling the wipes warmer and washing the bottles, and cautiously clipping your itty bitty fingernails, and running large amounts of laundry for the world’s smallest clothes.

Twelve months of being a family. Bonding over busy Saturdays and lazy Sundays and road trips and visits to the zoo and the aquarium and the children’s museum, and making memories you may never recall, but will be ingrained in our hearts forever.

365 days of long walks and nap times and rocking you to sleep, and letting you fall asleep on your own, and transitioning you from car seat to crib hoping you won’t wake up, but secretly cherishing the opportunity to hold you close to me as I move you.

A whole year of discovering what your favorites are, and going with the flow, and making it work, and wondering if we’ll get into a grove, and getting into a groove, and sleepless nights and sleeping through the night, and capturing the moment through pictures and videos while experiencing it all in real time.

A whole year of feeding you, then watching you learn to feed yourself. Of squeezing you tightly, until suddenly you began hugging me back. Of making you belly laugh, then realizing you knew how to make me giggle too.

365 days of observing and interacting and ‘I love yous’ and wanting to take a bite out of those irresistible cheeks. 365 days of pediatrician check-ups and making sure you never caught a cold or fever, then doing everything in my power to make you feel better when you did.

365 days of needing you just as much as you need me.

A whole year that made me wish I could freeze time and hit pause, while simultaneously wanting to rewind and fast forward just so I could peek at what happens next, then go back and relive it again and again.

365 of the very best days, thanks to the one who calls me ‘Mama’. The sweetest, happiest, smartest, funniest, most delightful ball of energy I’ve ever met. Who is adventurous and expressive and brave and sweet and dainty and strong and friendly and loving and easy-going and tests her boundaries and lights up a room, and turns me into complete mush. This cheerful, giggly girl who gives wet smooches, and wraps her arms around me so tightly I feel happy tears dripping over my beaming face almost every single time.

365 days of the most beautiful existence I’ve ever known to be possible.

So glad another 365 days starts right now.

Emma Reese, we may have given you life, but you brought meaning to ours. Happy first birthday daughter. You. are. everything.

Tune in to my next TV segment, Wednesday March 11th at 9:00am on CT Style News 8!

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