Today we had a birthday party for Aidan. He was born on February 29 of last year, which was a leap year, so his birthday actually spans the whole weekend which is lovely, but we celebrated today. I am amazed at how emotional I have felt in the days leading up to this day.

This has been the best year of my life. Better than the years I spent living a romance in a quaint hovel with a view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, better than the year I married the man of my dreams and honeymooned in Bali, better than the year I ran topless on beaches in Greece with no cares in the world. This year I became a mother and this year I met the love of my life and this year my mind and heart simply exploded, expanded in ways I never knew were possible.

When I think about how having Aidan has changed my life, I don’t think about how I’m not getting enough sleep or not finding time to work or go out or see movies. I don’t even think about those things when I think about how being a mother has changed me.

Aidan has opened my heart. He has taught me to love in a way that I never knew existed, in a way that’s completely unselfish and without limit. I know that life is okay as long as he is happy, healthy and safe. Nothing else really matters. Aidan has taught me patience and flexibility, qualities you need when you have a baby whose sleeping and eating habits are completely unpredictable and whose will is unbreakable. Nothing has ever made me happier than Aidan does. You know that first blush of love? When you smile so hard your face might break and giggle like a freak all the time and want to spend every minute eating the object of your new love. Well, every minute of every day is like that with Aidan. I tell him his mama loves him more than anyone has ever loved anyone in the whole wide world and I think it’s true.

Today I kept thinking about this day a year ago. It was the longest day of my life, waiting for my labor to speed up, enduring the pain of contractions that were too far apart to merit going to the hospital. We watched Ratatouille on pay per view, we wandered the neighborhood endlessly, we called my doctor and my doula repeatedly. We were waiting for Aidan to decide it was time to make an appearance. He did, in his own time, two and a half days afteboo-bday1r my water broke. Today I looked at pictures of him on that first day. My mother had them hanging from the ceiling at his birthday party, pictures of his birth day, tiny, crying, bundled up in my arms. That was the day I fell in love with him.

I cried when I read a birthday card from my mother in law today, again when I read one from Harlan. I cried when I talked to Gretchen about that day last year, February 27, when she and I wandered the walk streets of Venice trying to kickstart my labor. I was waiting for him, not really knowing who he was yet. He was a stranger then. He still could have been a girl or a boy, although I always knew he was a boy. He was the little stranger who kicked me repeatedly in the night. But on February 29 he became real. I put my hands around him and pulled him from my body and I would never be the same. I became a mother, and he became the most important thing in the world. He opened my heart and all that bloody rawness aches sometimes.