A Whole Year

(Written ~13 1/2 months)

A whole year with spunky, smart, sweet, loving, feisty, adorable, adventurous, empathetic, silly YOU.
I still miss those kicks, you know the ones
that you reliably gave on the right side of my belly
your first home that we half joke you wish you could return to.
But now you’ve been in this world longer than you’ve been in that one, and at long last you’re embracing it.

You’ve discovered your voice, saying “Hi!” and waving. Then “Bye” (well, “Ba” but we know what you mean) and barking like a dog, meowing like a cat, and baa-ing like a sheep. Boking like a chicken and ah ah ah-ing like a monkey and nay-ing like a horse. Your explosion of language has been amazing. What else, what else, what else…

Right after your 13 month birthday you started walking! Very spontaneously and on your own accord (of course) but once you started, there was no stopping you. Walking, walking, walking, sometimes running. That milestone shook me more than you turning one, I have to say. My baby, wobbling across the room.

We spend lots of time outside now and you love it so much. You traipse around the garden, honk the horn on your litle car, and smell the flowers then let out a “mmmMMMmmm.” When you fall you go “Ugh!” before getting back up again and going on your merry way. You love the birds and planes and dogs, and cars driving by and get the biggest kick out of people mowing their lawns.

You also love cuddling and nursing and still hate baths and nighttime sleep. You LOVE books and bring them to us all day long (Mmm?) to read to you. I lean in to kiss you and you to kiss me and when I plant one on your lips or nose you squeal and laugh. It’s the best.

You bring your shoes and hat to us when you want to go outside. Or stand next to your kitchen helper thing to get some help up. We bake and dance and garden together. You love your little trowel that you dig with.
I love that we’re your world (well us and the dogs of the neighborhood you’re obsessed with) and this pandemic that has us all so spooked is totally unknown to you. Life is pretty much the same.

I love that you notice everything… birds, planes, flowers, plants, dogs, cats, squirrels, budding trees. You’re a lesson in presence, in appreciating the luxury of slow living.

You need me slightly less now, but you still reach out for my hand when trying to get down a big step or something otherwise tricky. That’s really nice.

I love being your mom. It’s tiring, really tiring. I am really trying to do a good job… to find patience when I feel I have no more left and strength when I feel depleted.  Sometimes I think about the bond we have and I am shaken by how powerful it is, how I didn’t know a feeling like this existed. You show me it does.

I live for your belly laughs, you flashing your teeth and squinting your eyes, you coming up to me with a “Mmm?” and lifting my shirt, cuddling up and resting and nursing a while, finally pausing.
I live for your eyes meeting mine and a big smile spreading across your face, the games you make up–crawl racing around the house or sneaking up behind us– and the joy you get for finding new things to play with.
What a joy you are! A feisty little woman with a big personality who likes things just so. That’s my girl.

I’m sorry the days are so hard sometimes. That you’re tired a lot and no matter what I do I can’t get you to get a good night’s rest. That that affects everything else. I know it’s not for lack of effort on my part but there’s a lot of guilt surrounding our sleep woes. More grace, less guilt, I know I know, but I want to be honest.  Yes, I try really hard and apologize a lot. I hope that teaches you that moms are far from perfect, if you ever get that idea in your head.

My little love. You are pure goodness and being your mother is the joy of my life. I mean it. You bring out a side of me that I have never seen. A side that spontaneously drops to the ground and starts rolling in the bright green grass, laughing all the while, you piling on top of me in the process. Things like that.

Thank you for being my sidekick. Or am I yours? That’s more likely.

One last note. (Sorry this is so jumbled, I’m trying to accomplish a day’s worth of tasks during your nap.) Helen’s mother-in-law, Elaine, gave some of the best advice I’ve heard surrounding witnessing you grow. It wasn’t to me but to Helen as she’s raising a teenager but I hold on to it too. “It’s her right to grow up, ” she said, when we were discussing the difficulty of changing relationships, Helen missing her baby sometimes. And that stuck with me. When I watch you toddle around without me for a while and think about how relatively short this season of life is and how it’ll be over soon– no more sleeping on my chest, the days of marathon nursing sessions and just wanting mama mama mama nonstop fleeting–and I find myself feeling nostalgic about it all, I heed that advice, or try to anyway.

I love you more than all the stars in the sky, the fish in the sea and the trees in the forest. But you knew that.

Ps: I’m sorry you didn’t get to have a birthday party because of this damn virus. We’ll have one at some point and I’ll make you a fabulous cake, I promise.

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