Dear sweet baby,

I can't even begin to quantify the moments I have wanted to freeze since you have been born. The smell of your newborn head. The feel of your tiny body perfectly snuggled on my chest. The first time you smiled. The first time you laughed. Our first Christmas together. Our first vacation. All of it.

When you become a new parent, you're surrounded by a chorus of "enjoy every second, it goes so fast" from knowing parents and grandparents who've felt it go by in a blink of an eye. In fact, I've even said it more times than I can count. And we are all right, it goes by so bitterly fast. But the passing of time, I am thankful for it.

No matter how bittersweet it can feel, watching you grow and change daily is a reminder of how incredibly lucky I am to have you. We were never meant to live in this moment forever despite how many times we'd like to.

You were never meant to only stay in my arms.

While I will forever feel the imprint of the days you explored the world the safety within my reach, you were meant to walk, and run, and discover for yourself. You were created to touch, see and feel—your curiosity for the world will open your eyes to so many beautiful things. My arms will always be outstretched to hold you, but a mother also has to know when it's okay to let her baby go.

I was never meant to be your entire world.

This is hard for me to say, as I relish this stage more than anything I have ever experienced. From the nine months I carried you to the special relationship we have already developed, we have a bond that I hope nothing—not even the passage time—can break.

But your world will open to more people too, and it won't always just be the two of us and Daddy. I wish for you life-long friendships. I pray you'll find the love of your life and have fulfilling relationships. I hope you get to travel the world and meet people of every race, ethnicity and background. Your heart is already so bold and loving—I would be selfish to keep it to myself.

I was never meant to be your only voice.

Baby girl, I will protect you and fight for you every day of my life. My heart is mighty for you and it always will be. And while I am your voice now, it is my responsibility to give you strength in yours. The world is changing, and my hope for you is that you use your voice to lead with integrity and to speak with compassion and empathy.

I hope you always have the courage to speak up and the wisdom to know when to listen. Even though your vocabulary consists of three words right now, your words will one day have the power to speak life into other people and I'll strive to show you how.

I was meant to be your mother.

And you were meant meant to be my daughter and to thrive and grow, to dream and desire, and to love and adventure. Yes, it goes by fast. Faster than I could've ever fathomed, but the alternative is something I don't ever wish to imagine.

We are privileged to experience the passage of time, even when it seems like we can barely grasp it. There are mothers, and women who'd love nothing more than to be a mother, who wish they could watch their beautiful babies grow. We are lucky to do this together. I tell myself this when I feel the pang of each passing stage. I hope you'll always find the strength to show gratitude for the passage of time throughout your life too.

One day you will look in mirror and see your first gray hair or signs of lines around your eyes. Tell yourself that you are lucky, for they are signs that you have lived.

One day you will say goodbye to people you love dearly, and in the pain I hope you find gratitude for the time, no matter how limited, to love someone so much it hurts. You are lucky.

Time may be a thief, but it is also a joyous gift. The greatest gift in my life is the joy of time with you.