Sunday, August 31, 2008

To My 10-Month-Old Papoose

I can't get enough of you.

If you're reading this, I've probably told you about what a hard time I had the first several months of your life. And you know that I finally had to take medicine to make it better. You know that I loved you with a fierceness and viciousness that I didn't know I had in me from before you were even born, but that it took the medicine to make me really appreciate you.

I knew, through all those dark months, that I was missing so much. I thought that I didn't deserve you, that I wasn't appreciating all the small details of you as much as I felt that I should. I felt guilty for being so ungrateful when so many other women out there would give their lives for a day in my shoes. I knew that I was a good mother, but not the best mother I could be and that you deserved so much more.

That's behind us now. Now, I go to bed every night thinking about you, with a smile on my face. I replay all my favorite things from the day: the way your head smelled when I kissed you, the way you smiled at me when I picked you up from your nap, the way you laughed when your papa tickled you.

I think about that particular angle your wrist takes when you shake a toy. You hold it underhand, out to the side, and when you shake it up and down, you shake with the empty hand, too, held out to the other side.

You play the "sorting game." You love to rip the dresses off their hangers in your closet. You sit down in the middle of the pile and pick up and set down dress after dress; put this one over here, then move that one, then move the first one back where it was, nope, better on this side, throw this one over your shoulder pick it up again, stand up, turn around, sit back down and pick up two more dresses. You can keep that up for half an hour. I've watched you do it for that long, choking down the laughter.

You want to share all your meals with Chewy. The other day I was washing up in the kitchen near the end of your breakfast. I poked my head around the corner every minute or so to glance at you and make sure you weren't choking on your o's. I caught you feeding o after o to Chewy, fast as you both could manage, as thought trying to get as many of them down his gullet before I came back. Your frenzy was so funny, I couldn't even scold either of you.

You gave me a hickey this morning. You did fine with weaning; I don't think you particularly miss the nursing, but you still occasionally try to latch on to my arm, my leg, my clavicle. Actually, lately you also seem to want to rip the clavicle out from under my skin, which, I'm not going to lie to you, is painful. But I let you, 'cause I'm a sucker. You also try to give me regular dental exams. Me and the dog. You stick your hands in our mouths and try to rip out our tongues. Maybe you'll be a dentist. You should talk to your uncle about that.

We go on playdates once or twice a week with other moms and babies in the mommy group we joined. They are all blown away that you started walking at nine months. They say, kindly, that it looks ridiculous to see someone so small upright and walking, and I have to agree. I'm also secretly so proud of you, though I know it ultimately means nothing. I promise not to push you to try out for the junior olympic team of your choice until you're at least four years old.

Everyone keeps saying that, now that you're walking, you're going to lose all your baby fat. For the love of bacon, you'd better not! It took me eight months to get that fat on you! Let's enjoy it a little longer.

So many people tell us that you are the happiest baby they've ever seen. You're usually generous with your smiles, though you're slower to laugh. You're not the most independent baby on the block, but you're getting moreso, playing on your own for longer stretches. You give the best hugs right now, wrapping your arms around my neck, burying your face in that clavicle that you want so badly to get hold of. Kisses are also frequent and consist of wide open mouth, lots of tongue. You leave more slobber on me than the dog. It's great.

Your mood swings wildly when you get tired. Happy baby? Gone. Meet Whiney, Cranky, and their friend Grumpy. By now, I've mastered the art of timing when I should go into your room upon your waking. Too soon, when you're not fully awake, and we're in for non-stop clinginess and fussing for the next three hours. Too late, and you're just pissed at being kept waiting. But go into your room while you're babbling or singing to yourself, and you are my little sunshine baby, all smiles and squeals, sometimes diving out of my arms for the bottle of milk I carry.

I could watch you for hours. I note how the back of your neck gets red, near the bottom of your hairline. I won't be able to see that redness soon; your hair is slowly getting thicker, finally filling in. I can't see the ribs and vertebrae in your back anymore; you're getting a little fat roll around your sides in baby-fat perfection. You have your papa's proportions: long torso, not so long legs. Your pants are always too long, not helped by the fact that they fall off your don't really have much of a butt. We're not so good at remembering to clip your fingernails. We know we've waited to long when you get up from a nap with a new scratch on your nose.

Your eyes are hazel, like mine, but some days look undeniably brown, like your papa's. Everyone has a strong opinion, saying you look exactly like me, or exactly like your papa. Almost no one sees us both in you.

You're sensitive. Easily startled. Cuddly. Sweet. So happy. You have a great sense of humor, finding the most unexpected things funny. You are tenacious and persistent. Curious. Trusting. You love animals. Quick to smile. Sometimes tentative to join a crowd. You love music, love me to sing to you, love songs you recognize (a lot of "All You Need Is Love," "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," and "Dream a Little Dream of Me"). You sit for fifteen minutes at a time flipping through the same book over and over. Another favorite is pulling all the folded laundry out of a basket, all the diapers out of their crate, the clothes out of your drawer, anything you can take out.

You're beautiful and perfect and I wish I could keep you this age forever. That's trite, I know, but I didn't always wish for that last part. We've gotten there, Papoosekin, and we'll be alright now.

Happy 10-month birthday, a little early. I can't wait to see what you do next.


Leslie said...

I am just SO happy to read all of that.
Much love to you, the man, the baby.

Wonderland said...

Wow. Wow-oh-wow-oh-wow! That was absolutely incredible. Now, if I could just get my womb to calm down... (Listen womb, now is not the time...). I love you. And the beautiful Papoose.

Ali said...

Squeeze her tight. It goes so fast.

My eldest walked at 9 months too - he didn't loose any weight, but I did!

Manager Mom said...

What a beautiful letter to a beautiful 10-month-old.

I am glad you are through your tough times and enjoying every moment!

Red said...

You left me teary eyed, but smiling at the same time. My heart swells with joy to read such wonderful, loving,happy, calm words. Sending you my love.

Anonymous said...

I was in tears reading this. of such happiness and it was just the most touching thing ever to read from a mother to her child. this is an amazing note. i loved it! you should be proud of the mommy you are and your beautiful little girl. love ya !

Robyn Wright of Robyn's Online World said...

Wonderful post - make sure to print that out for when she is older.

My son is a teen now and I honestly still have those moments where I am just amazed by him (in a good way). I think that mother's love feeling will always stay.

Thank you for sharing!