Happy one year, June

9 January 2017

This last year has felt slow, in the most wonderful way. From 4:15 to 8 every week day (and more on weekends, of course!), I was just with her. We were together. Sometimes we cooked, sometimes we folded laundry, sometimes I just sat on the floor and watched her explore. For the most part, I didn’t try to direct her activities. I didn’t share our moments on Snapchat or a Story. We smiled at each other and made each other laugh (and of course, sometimes there were tears!). We read books and stacked blocks. We hinged and unhinged the guitar case a million times. We listened to music and sang. We rolled around. We took lots of walks. We sat on the porch, quiet, and watched the tree in our front yard wave in the breeze. We tried to pet the cats. We took baths and ate dinner. Later, we climbed the stairs a million times, played with puzzles, danced, shook the tambourine.


Photo by Nancy Ray

Since my most important job was to be present, it was easy to succeed and to feel accomplished. I am her mama, and in that role I felt like exactly enough. I had everything I needed to give her exactly what she needed. I didn’t feel guilty, distracted, or frenzied. I left my phone in the kitchen, so I wasn’t tempted to look at it. I didn’t do everything right, but I felt purposeful and content BECAUSE I very specifically narrowed my focus to only this one thing while I was with her.

Did that mean I took and shared fewer pictures?
Did that mean I had to stay up later some nights to finish Etsy orders?
Did that mean I wrote fewer blog posts?
Did that mean I read fewer books?
Did that mean our house was often messy, and, let’s be real, a little bit dirty?
Did that mean it took weeks for me to get back to some emails?


Was it worth it?


Throughout this year, I constantly heard my grandmother in my head: “I just tried to enjoy them.” Well, I enjoyed every – and I do mean every – moment with my little Junebug. It was the best year of what has been a beautiful life, and I know John would say the same.

I didn’t spend too much time mourning how fast she was growing, and I firmly stopped myself from thinking too much about the future. I just sat in the present, with her, with John, and it was good. I am doing the same now.

Whenever I feel a wave of sadness about how she’s no longer a little baby, I remember something else a wise woman in my life recently told me: we are not called to keep our babies little, but to raise them well and help them grow. Yes, yes, yes, amen!

So to our sweet, cheerful, funny, smart, patient one-year-old June Chen Thomas: We love you. We are so grateful you are ours. And we are so excited to see what your next year holds!


P.S. Thank YOU for your encouragement, enthusiasm, ideas, and wisdom this past year! You made my first year as a mama even sweeter. Very thankful for this community and the ability to share! So much love to you all!!

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January 9, 2017 6:37 am

I love this! Happy birthday June!

January 9, 2017 6:52 am

Happy 1st birthday to June! I might be a few years away from being a mama, but reading posts like this help to focus my heart in the right direction and remember what really matters for when the time comes. Throwing virtual confetti on y’all! :)

January 9, 2017 7:32 am

This post warmed my heart on this chilly morning and almost made me tear up! Happy birthday, June!!

January 9, 2017 8:19 am

So beautifully said. I hope I can feel as content when my 8 month old boy reaches the one year mark.

January 9, 2017 8:36 am

This is so beautiful Em. And so meaningful as I sit here with my 5 week old boy sleeping on my chest. Words to live by in my six months of maternity leave.

January 17, 2017 9:33 am
Reply to  Em

I feel so blessed to live in the UK and work for a law firm with such as great maternity policy. Your blog is my very favourite!

January 9, 2017 9:28 am

Happiest of birthdays to sweet June and congratulations to her parents! This post was beautiful and inspiring, as always, Emily. As my husband and I are thinking about becoming parents this year, we worry that our lives are too hectic and that we’ve been working too much — how can we do that with a baby? This post was a reminder that we can’t. A baby will slow down our lives in the most lovely, welcome way. Thank you.

January 9, 2017 10:11 am

Emily I love your wisdom, and reflections! Thanks for sharing! And Happy birthday to June!

Victoria B
January 9, 2017 11:50 am

This is so beautiful! I hope I can take such a present approach to motherhood this year. :) Happy Birthday June!

January 9, 2017 3:37 pm

This is so, so lovely. I’m due at the end of April and my word for 2017 is “present” for many of the reasons you outline above. Such a graceful reminder to “just be”. Thanks for continuing to share your journey, you’ve been a wonderful resource for me and my family and I can’t thank you enough for being willing to take the time to share your wisdom!

January 9, 2017 4:37 pm

Happy Birthday to June! This post made me SO weepy – I just had a baby girl, born on New Year’s Day. :)

January 10, 2017 3:57 am

Happy birthday, June! And congrats, Emily! You’re doing an outstanding job from what I can tell! I also felt like the first year with my first one went by so slowly. Not so much with the second one (9 months old tomorrow). But my word for the year is “present”, so this post was a great motivation that just being present with the kids is actually enough.
Keep on shining!

January 10, 2017 9:06 pm

Hi Em – very beautifully written. What a treasure for June to discover.
I loved that you said you didn’t lead too much with the playing but let June chart the course – was that something you just intuited or were you guided by resources? If so, which ones? I’d love to take a similar approach – I don’t know how much to direct my son… or not.
Thanks as always!!

January 10, 2017 11:35 pm

Man. You’re an amazing example of a mama, especially in this world of constant distraction. This is inspiring. I hope I can say the same things when I have a kiddo one day.

January 11, 2017 1:38 pm

Thank you Em!

Kelly Strawberry
January 11, 2017 8:09 pm

Yes to this post a million times over! As a working mom, I feel like I am so present during the times I am with my kiddo. I’m just so grateful for the time with him. Each week I tell myselt I will babyproof the house, but there has not yet been a need during the first 14 months. Unless he is aleep, me or my husband are always right beside him. :)

January 19, 2017 3:18 pm
Reply to  Em

yes-you get pulled in many directions all day when you’re home. You just have to carve out specific times to just be together/ times to mindlessly scroll or read/exercise/tv/ fold clothes/ to do dishes (and work a little in my case), and I feel lucky we can do so and balance things (and especially grateful for a partner who is super helpful, too), but it can be tough to be present ALL day long. I take way too many pics! I just can’t help it, but trying to be better! Routine absolutely helps and the #naptimehustle gets me through, lol! What a great post. And what a sweet time. Happy Birthday, June!

January 16, 2017 9:00 am

This is such a special, beautifully-written post. I’m sure you’ll love having the opportunity to go back and read this on future birthdays. Happy one year to your sweet girl!

January 20, 2017 1:52 pm
Reply to  Meredith

Perfect, Em, just perfect. Stay true to that.

February 1, 2022 1:52 pm

Well. this post made me cry as my two year old sleeps and my second child squirms inside of me. thank you.

October 6, 2023 7:26 am

Emily, I found this blogpost after reading today’s post on October goals. Wow, I had to comment. Thank you so much for this. My 1st baby is 8 months old and your words and wisdom were exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you!