Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Happy Birthday!

A "Pail and Shovel List" For Your First Birthday

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article

My Dearest Lady,


I have sat down to write this letter so many times, and nothing wants to come out. I cannot believe you are turning one — how can I write a letter commemorating an event that I am completely unprepared for? My last baby is no longer quite a baby.

I could give you the “mother/daughter pep talk” where I tell you how strong you are and how you can be anything you want to be (just don’t be trampy). So here it is; you’re a woman, you can study to be whatever you want to be. Dancer, neurosurgeon, teacher; just work your hardest and I will always be behind you.

You were a planned Cesarean section so your dad and I hugged Man goodbye and left for the hospital quite calmly and prepared to meet our little girl. What we were not prepared for, what we never could have prepared for, was you. There was no way anyone could be as amazing as Man, right? Once again, as with most things involving parenting, we were wrong.

I heard you cry, and then I heard the doctor say, “You have yourself a blond!”

Without even laying eyes on you I replied, “Nope, she’s a red head.”

And boy, are you a red head, fiery and delicious!

You exude sweetness and luminosity and no one is immune. People actually cross rooms to meet you and touch your hair, like they somehow they have to prove to themselves that it really is that red.

Like your dad, you are always smiling and happy, relaxed and easy going. Even after missing a nap and being up for far too many hours we can count on you for a giggle. Your dad and I always joke that even when you cry you’re probably thinking, “Sorry guys, I don’t want to be a bother, but I’m bleeding profusely from the head.” Never lose this ease; it will serve you well in life.

You constantly surprise me, like just the other day when you took your first steps. Right out of nowhere, you stood up and just one, two, three right into my arms. It was then that I knew we were on the verge of toddlerhood.

Every night we sit and rock while you drink your bottle; I will truly mourn the loss of this special peaceful time we share together. In those last moments of your day I listen to your familiar little sounds and breathe in your delicious breath as I kiss you good night. How am I going to say goodbye to my baby and welcome my toddler?

I have so many things I want to do with you as you grow. A “bucket list” this is not; let’s call it our “pail and shovel list”. As one gift on your first birthday I propose we try and do all of the following before you turn 13:

Go for tea at The Plaza in NYC.

Go to a Justin Beiber concert (or the tween equivalent a decade from now). We must buy new outfits and dress up for this event. [Editor’s Note: Really?]

Eat a croissant in Paris.

Buy you a pair of high heels. Fancy ones.

See the ballet, multiple times. This includes The Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet specifically.

Spend an entire day dressed like princesses.

Go on a camping trip.

Do a 5k together.

Take a cooking or baking class or both!

Take a road trip, just the two of us—you choose the destination.

Read the Anne of Green Gables series and then go to Prince Edward Island.

Spend an entire day in PJ’s eating junk food, doing our nails, and watching chick flicks with a few of your friends.

Read the entire Harry Potter series and when we are done spend a weekend watching all seven movies in a row. Follow this up with a trip to Universal Studios to ride the Harry Potter rides. (I might be more excited about this one than you.)

Get your ears pierced.

See the NY Philharmonic on the Great Lawn in Central Park (and maaaaaaaaybe try your first little sip of wine).

Play a round of golf.

Cook and serve holiday meal together for our family.

Volunteer to serve meals at a shelter on Thanksgiving morning.

Ice skate at Wollman Rink in NYC after taking a horse and carriage ride.

Have a fancy lunch at The Four Seasons.

Millie’s choice.

Now that I have this list I feel a little better. I am armed with all sorts of exciting things to look forward to as you grow into toddlerhood and then into childhood.

Every time I see your little face I fall more and more in love with you; my heart is filled with the joy you bring me every day. You have completed our family of four so absolutely, and not a day goes by that your daddy and I don’t look each other and remark on how lucky we are to have produced such a beautiful creature.

Happy Birthday, my dear Lady. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.