Be Not Afraid

Who You are at One Year Old

Oh, sweet, silly, and crazy John Paul, I never want to forget anything about who you are right now! Especially the way you bury your head and arms into my chest when you’re tired, the way your hair curls up in the back, or the way you try to kiss me, coming at me with a completely open mouth and wide eyes. So, here is who you are at one year old:

You are a child of great joy. Everyone told me that babies don’t actively smile when they’re newborn, that if they’re smiling it’s because of gas, but you smiled up at me when I held you and sang to you in the NICU, and perhaps it was just perfectly timed farts, but knowing the cheerful, smiley child you are now, I choose to believe it’s that you were cheerful and smiley even then, even with a PICC line and breathing tubes. It’s so easy to make you laugh, and I know it’s not because I’m funny, but because you’re just so good-natured! And with your four teeth? Oh, that smile is killer!

You haven’t said a lot of words yet, but you love to babble as you play and fall asleep (and you’ll wave at anyone and anything!). Your favorite things to say are “Da da da da,” and “Na na na na.” Sometimes, when you’re really upset, you crawl towards me and moan, “Ma ma ma, mu mu mu.” I try not to laugh, but it’s so cute! You also like the way it sounds when you say, “Oooo” while doing everything, like banging your hands on the table, looking at a book, getting your diaper changed (see above), taking a bath, or just staring at yourself in the mirror. It’s a pretty wonderful sound, and I think it shows just how much you love exploring and discovering new things, how amazed you are by this big, beautiful world.

Mommy and Daddy love to kid around with you, but sometimes our antics go to far. A few days ago, we were playing an intense game of peek-a-boo (your favorite game of all time), when Momma’s “Boo!” was a bit too enthusiastic. You were scared out of your mind and you sure let us know! Luckily, you make a pretty adorable sad face, and were smiling again just a minute later!

You just recently learned to walk, and it’s been incredible to watch you go from those first timid steps to a full-out frankenstein-like wobble. You are so very proud of yourself, and you should be! You are a strong-willed boy-when you want something to happen you make it happen!

You’ve also recently learned how to feed yourself from your “ba.” Mommy used to wish you could do that when you’d scream and scream in the backseat of the car (you’re not too fond of your car seat-maybe it was all those drives back and forth to chemo when you were little? Mommy is so grateful you were always by her side). But now that you’ve figured out how to tilt the bottle just right to get the perfect amount of formula to your mouth, Mommy secretly misses those early days when she had to hold your tiny bottle just right and it took you almost an hour to eat just a few small ounces. How big you’re getting, and how quickly!

Mommy and Daddy gave you an early birthday present last week, and it’s your favorite toy ever! You love to ride around on your musical car, saying “Ooo,” and banging into things.

Though you’re willing to drive fully clothed, you’re much more comfortable in the nude when you really start cruising.

You really love to eat, and you enjoy many foods, such as: pears, apples, blueberries, chicken, potatoes, carrots, squash, avocado, pumpkin, spinach, cheese, yogurt, and puffed cereal. But you’re absolutely favorite guilty pleasure, one that you’ve figured out how to find by opening the kitchen cabinet, pulling out the container and opening it all on your own? Baby’s version of Momma’s chemo-time craving: Cheetos! At least yours are baked and made from real veggies!

You and Mommy have a lot of fun together. We love laughing, having adventures around town, and snuggling when you’re tired (though you’re not as much of a snuggler these days). But you really have eyes for your Daddy! When he comes home from work your face lights up and you crawl as quickly as you can to him. You grin as soon as you see his face, and really, I don’t blame you! He’s pretty great (and handsome too…) Your special time together is in the early morning when Daddy feeds you and you watch Sports Center together. What a great Daddy he is, letting Mommy have a little extra time to sleep!

Whenever “Da” is around, you are his shadow. Especially when he leaves for work, you long to go with him, and you cry and cry standing in the doorway as he walks away. During the day we call him and you smile so big when you hear his voice on the phone! He calls you his best little buddy, and you really are.

Just as much as you are joyful and exuberant, and Mommy and Daddy sometimes joke that you are a bit crazy (as well as a one man wrecking team), you are also sweet and thoughtful and contemplative. You are so meticulous when you’re trying to figure out a new toy or how to get underneath the couch to get to your beloved wires and electrical outlets. You have such perseverance, and I can’t help but remember how you showed such strength in your earliest days as you fought to breath in the NICU. You are such an inspiration to us, and we learn from you everyday. And as long as I live I don’t think I’ll ever find eyes as beautiful as yours (everywhere we go you are complimented on those long lashes that you got from Daddy…and boy do you flirt in response!)

What a joy and wonder you are at one year old, John Paul! Mommy and Daddy pray so often in thanksgiving for you, and are so honored to be your parents. We love you so much, and love witnessing all the happiness you bring to the world!


  1. =) Beautiful Mom Allison! Please continue to share… He is also a doll! What a blessing. I write poems to my son and granddaughter when I am not too worn from treatment. I write about the journey and how God is the one who gets the glory in everything. Thank you Allison. (Lately, I have been writing on my “I WANNA BE A COWBOY” blog about my sister and I’s move to Texas. (MD ANDERSON CANCER CENTER) from Indiana. I love this entry Allison. Keep writing!

  2. Sarah

    awe, Ali this is so beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing this story! Made me laugh and cry. Love you, Mike, and JP!

  3. Allison, this is the most beautiful letter from a parent to a child that I’ve ever read.
    It brought back a lot of not so distant memories of sharing these most precious moments with my three year old son Simon. I only wish we could slow the time sometimes before they grow up so quick.
    And you are also an amazing Mom/photographer. I love the photo of John Paul glued to the door as Daddy leaves for work. So precious.
    Let your boy(s) bring you more and more joy throughout the days!
    Imagine, my son Simon shares the same birthday with John Paul, only with two years difference 🙂

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