Well, ahem, NEAR your first birthday...
I have time to right this because you're in the midst of some kind of nap marathon right now. You've been in there for nearly four hours after weeks of 45-minute naps, no naps, half naps, catnaps. You're sleep schedule has been all over the map this month and it's a sign that you're growing, getting ready to drop that first nap, sleeping longer at night. Turning into a big girl.
I know a lot of mamas who cried when their babies turned one. Your Aunt L asked me if I did and was surprised when I said no. I was surprised, too. Your mama is a bit sentimental and this is a huge milestone for us both. You stopped being my baby when you took those first steps almost three months ago. There's no denying your toddlerhood. And this first birthday is the absolute click of that door shutting behind us. And I'm not sad.
Sure, there's a part of me that sees pregnant women or mamas with new babies or pictures of you from your first few months and feels some small longing for that time. And I've been thinking a lot about that feeling because 90% of my brain wants to smack that other part of me upside the head and demand to know what ludicrous brand of insanity it's subscribed to now to even entertain such a notion as a second child for more than a quarter of a second. And that self-destructive 10% has the gall to look offended and defensive when it presents hormonal evidence. But there's more to it's case than that.
The most gratifying thing about being your mother so far is watching your personality unfold. I have no words to describe how amazing and breathtaking it is to watch so much personhood express itself from such a tiny body. We watch your brain develop and are awestruck. The first time your father and I saw you put the cap on your bottle all by yourself, out of nowhere, we wondered, "Who taught her that? How did she know to do that? How is she that coordinated?" The fact that you figure so much out on your own, that you don't need to be taught everything is both obvious and inspiring all at once.
You've recently discovered magnets. You peel them off the refrigerator, slap them back on, pat, pat, pat (presumably, to make sure it sticks), step back, study your work, and start over again. It is hands-down the cutest thing I've seen in my life.
You consistently use your version of the "all done" baby sign when you want to get down from your highchair. Rather than the hand shake, palms facing in, that I've tried to teach you, you hold both hands up, palms out, and shake them frantically to let us know you want down from your highchair. You also have ingeniously employed this sign on the changing table, but to no avail.
You spent your twelfth month walking heedlessly off every ledge in your path, trusting that I would catch you, until one time I didn't. We were at the playground across from Ouiser's house and all three Ouisers, your papa, you, and I were there. You landed forehead first off a concrete step and had your first real injury. I was actually kind of glad, hoping it would knock some sense into you. The problem with a baby beginning to walk as young as you did is that they don't have the sense to keep up with their physical prowess. Consequence has taught you some caution and you now yell for help at the top of every step. Your papa accidentally left the gate at the bottom of the stairs open the other day. I only knew because I heard you calling for me and found you halfway up the stairs, stuck, yelling for help to get down. (And I'm thanking your guardian angel for that one.)
You love to try on my headbands. You have a Rainbow-Bright-esque cardigan sweater that you love to carry around the house to no end, on the hanger. You splash like crazy in the bathtub whenever you're in there with Ouiser's S or your cousin, J. You stomp your feet when you're mad. You are binky-dicted. You are very into riding your rocking bear, or anyone's rocking or riding anything. If your papa or I rest our heads in your new chair, you possessively shove us out and sit down, reclaiming it. You think it's hysterical if I pull your binky out of your mouth with my teeth. Your favorite book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar and you've pretty much killed it with love and gnawing and standing upon and flipping over and over again to the page where "On Saturday, he ate through one piece of chocolate cake," etc.
You seem to have inherited your papa's daredevil streak, his disregard for authority, his inability to entertain himself, and his high pain tolerance, as well as my sensitivity, low frustration threshold, and high emotional volatility. You're smart as the dickens, determined, strong-willed, and way too pretty for your own good. I'm not going to lie to you, we're scared.
Scared and captivated and spellbound and so in love.
Happy birthday, sweet, sweet girl. I can't wait to spend the next year with you.