For Clarissa

Dear Clarissa,

It's been a week since your first birthday and I'm finally putting my thoughts down in this letter for you, here in Bali, while watching you sleep with your little butt sticking out.

Life has always been kind of crazy and kind of busy, and life with you has been even more so, the good kind of crazy and the nice kind of busy.

On this trip, besides you making a name for yourself as "The Baby Who Doesn't Smile at Strangers", we've had quite a few people asking us how old you are.

One

Daddy and I would announce to them, very proudly.

In fact I still can't believe 40 weeks, 3 days and 1 year just flew by like this.

I'm now fully appreciating the saying, that the days are long but the years are short.

This was our official family wefie before we brought you home with us.

Since then, life has been an adventure.

Sometimes it is an emotional roller coaster and sometimes it bursts with so much happiness our hearts feel so full.

Through all the tears and laughter, I've learned so much about you, myself and Daddy and us as a family.

I've learned that it's ok to be not ok sometimes.
It is ok to cry.
It is ok to feel sad and vulnerable.
It is ok to ask for help.

And help will come. From your friends, your family and yourself.

Only then can we bounce back and lift our heads high again.

And perhaps, move an inch forward.

I've learned not to go to bed angry, because time is so precious.
And not to bear or hold any grudges, because every day is a brand new day.

And there is always something to look forward to, such as your disarming smile greeting us in the morning and hearing your cheerful chuckle.

I've also learned to take things as they come, improvise, make the best out of the situation, and if possible, find some humor in it.

Like if you are forced to be Pikachu, you try your best to at least be a cute one. Haha.

Daddy and I often have to plan and strategize, sometimes for the simplest things like "what to do after we get out of the car", but things would not always go as planned.

So we learn to be spontaneous, and live life a little on the edge, sometimes.

You've also taught me how it is as important to be patient as it is to be strong; that's what makes us resilient.

Things won't go your way all the time, and we can't have it all.

But the good things, such as food, they will come.

Thank you for showing us what it takes to love someone unconditionally, and how it feels to be loved back, so wholeheartedly.

I love seeing how your face lights up when we return home in the evenings. It feels great to have a little someone who's so genuinely happy to welcome us home.

Because of you, I've learned that it is ok to let down my guard sometimes, and be more open about showing my affection and love.

I hope you know how much joy you've brought with you, not only to Daddy and I, but also to the people around us.

The way you babble an entire string of Minionese to Daddy, the way you sweep away the hair covering my face when you wake up beside me in the morning, the way you point at something you want in your bossypants manner, the way you hug me when you are sorry, the way you grin as you show us where your nose or tongue is, the way you rest your cheeks on our shoulders to show your love.

Even in future, as you frown upon our nagginess, longwindedness (like this letter) and all the restrictions we might impose on you, I hope you know how much we love you and want the best for you.

Yes we do, little miss grumpypants.

I hope you stay cheerful and curious, as you continue to learn something new and achieve anything, big or small, each day.

Continue to surprise us, as we continue to learn about you and ourselves.

We are still learning how to be as patient and loving as we are strict and fair.

Indeed, parenting, like you learning to stand and to walk, is a balancing act.

It starts from learning how to strike a good work-life balance, knowing when to take a time-out and when to push on, learning when to heed "advice" and when to listen to our own inner voices, deciding when to step in and when to let you fall and learn, and when to discipline and when to spoil you silly.

It's not easy, but we will try our best.

I hope you grow up to be as confident and strong as you are patient and wise.

Find something you are passionate about, do something you are good at, work hard and play hard.

I hope you'll learn and know how to love yourself and people close to you, and always know your self worth and how loved you are by us, and the people around you.

I hope you'll be like the name we gave you, bright and clear, gentle and kind.

Hurray, we've turned one!

It might sound very clich├ęd, but we love you, all of the sweet, bossy, clingy, shy, cheerful, sensitive, curious, adventurous, cheeky, grumpy and mostly adorable you, to the moon many times and back.

Looking forward to more adventures with you and Daddy.

Yours,
Mommy