Letters to My Daughter- Happy First Birthday Aiza

19 September 2019

Dear Aiza, 

Happy first birthday my love! I’ll keep repeating this like a broken record day in and day out - Why is time running so fast? How are you growing so fast? I just (legit JUST!!) gave birth to you. How are you 12 months old already? 

Aiza! You’ll read these letters years down the line. I actually don’t know at what age children start reading but whenever you do, I want these letters to feel like mum’s hugs. 

My precious child, this one year with you has been so special. I and papa often say we should have had you sooner. You have brought so much joy to our relationship and in our household. Your smile and giggles brighten up our days and nights! 

Still to this day, I and papa keep staring at you as you sleep peacefully at night. Your arms flung out. Relaxed. One hand touching papa and one hand touching mama. You are that co-sleeping baby who wouldn’t sleep without touch. Your afternoon nap is on my boob and evening nap on dad’s chest (in a baby carrier). Touch! Lots of touch! And we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

And that’s why when we went to check out a childcare centre near my workplace a few weeks ago, we were so overwhelmed. We couldn’t cry but the lump in our throat choked us both. We do not want to share you with the world. We do not want you to sleep without that touch. We don’t want you to cry for boob when mum is at work. That visit just didn’t feel real. Both me and papa couldn’t hear what the childcare manager was saying. We both were so lost and so overwhelmed at how fast my maternity leave has exhausted. It feels like you are just coming out of your shell and now we gotta leave you in someone else’s care. 

Aiza! I write this letter on 07/09/2019 as we are a plane to India. Your grandparents who came to take care of you had medical issues and hence we are escorting them back home. They were our childcare plan so we never looked at kindy or daycare options. This is your first visit to India and I am on an emotional roller-coaster. I’m scared of the heat. I am paranoid of all the people who will swamp you. I am happy that you’ll see your maternal grandparents, maasi, maamu and Mehreen didi for the first time. 

You are almost a year old now. The last time you were in flight as 9 months old. Sitting but not crawling. You were less mobile. Today you are a handful. You want to crawl around and not stay still. 

In a plane full of strangers your eyes look for me constantly. The way they light up when they spot me! It’s surreal! No one has ever been so happy to see me. Our love and our bonding are so precious to me. When they say you are mamma's girl and bring you back to me, I’m delighted. You are my girl. And I will love you till death do us apart (or maybe beyond if there’s something called afterlife). 

In a few hours, you will land in your motherland, India. You will meet your maternal grandparents for the first time. I am not sure if I’m ready for that moment. My mom did not see me pregnant, delivering or as a mom. She will suddenly see me as Aiza’s mum. I am going back home as a completely different person to when I left 1 year and 10 months ago. You were a little speck inside me then, that probably got conceived during our last India trip. 

Aiza! Baby! You are a year old. In this one year, I’ve protected your curiosity and your adventure spirit the best of what I could. I want you to be limitless Aiza. I want you to believe that if you set your mind to something, you can absolutely achieve it. I want you to keep learning, keep exploring and keep having fun. I want you to give a damn about society and its norms. I want you to grow each day and learn each day. I want you to live your life like each day matters. I want you to live your life for yourself and no one else. Not even us. 

Dear Aiza, me and papa often talk about it and I want to tell you this as well. Just because I am your mother and I gave birth to you, you do not owe me anything, my love. Your life is your own to live. I will be your mother, your protector, your guide and your nurturer, but I will not decide your life’s course for you. You will decide it. You will get to live how you want to live. If there’s one thing me and papa have learned from the generation before us, it’s that each of us has our own identity. We will be a family and we will also be individuals with varied interests and skillsets. We will not cross each other’s personal boundaries and enforce our wills and wishes on each other. 

Aiza! My Lil 4 tooth cheeky one! You are so perfect and so loved. Little one you already have a fan club. You go to blogger meet-ups with mum, you are a regular feature on mum’s Instagram Stories (not sure if it’ll still be around when you read this), you bring joy and positivism to so many each and every day. I hope I can raise you to keep spreading this positivity and happiness. 

Aiza before you came to our life, I always prioritized my career and other goals. After you, I am tempted to quit the rat race and keep living in the slow lane forever. This last one year has been a dream. If it wasn’t for bills, mortgages and travel expenses, I would have put you to sleep on my boob for as many years as you like. Real-life is painful and I’m dreading going back to it. 

Aiza! You are learning everything so fast. You copy every move in seconds. I was worried about self-feeding, not only do you do that with ease, you just drank water from an open cup by holding it yourself in this flight. No help. Every day you amaze us with the skills you pick up. I am heartbroken that after I join work, I’ll miss out on these happenings for 9 hours of my day. I just want to rewind back that time and re-live these days over and over again. 

Aiza you are one lucky kid! The first time I hopped on a plane and went overseas was when I came to New Zealand as 21-year-old student in 2009. You, my child, have been to 10 countries in less than a year. I hope we can keep adding to that list. I hope we keep travelling as a family and keep creating memories.

Happy first birthday little one. You are truly a blessing! We just can’t have enough of you. It’s been 365 days of pure magic. Here’s to many more. 


Mum & Dad 

Update 1: We have been in India for 3 days now and wow! it’s burning. You are legit living in your nappy. Everyone wants to hold you and smother you. You pass them the giggles but are glued to my hip. Even though it’s made it hard for me to do any chores, family bonding or even showers, it’s made two of us closer. This Aiza and my time, without having to worry about laundry and dishes is blissful. I can play with you all day. You are fascinated with belt-less car rides and ceiling fans. You are the centre of attraction wherever you go. You are being showered with so much love kid, it’s unfathomable. This twist of fate that brought us to India unexpectedly has made your first birthday eventful and special. 

Update 2: It's your birthday morning right now. You are wearing a frock that naani made you. You are fooling around with maamu as I type this. I am so happy we are with the family on this special day of yours. I plan to bake a cake for you. We plan to go plant a tree in your name. I plan to have no plan and enjoy your day today. No stress because this Indian heat has been savage to you. Little one you have a cough, cold and all that annoying stuff so I'm going to keep it as relaxed for you as I can. 

These beautiful photos were lovingly taken by Ankita & Akash of Thephotophactory.co.nz . This couple is a power-house with so much talent and energy in them. Looking at these photos, I am sure you can’t make out that it was their first baby shoot. They made us so comfortable and were willing to push the limits. The result of this collab is these beautiful photos that our family will forever cherish. It’s our special keepsake. Thank you Photophactory for these memories of our baby’s first year, that is now frozen in this very special letter to my daughter. You are a part of our forever now. Thank You my loves! I cannot recommend you enough. 

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