(This idea is copied entirely from Dooce's blog. Just to give credit where credit is due. I think it's a fabulous thing to do. I only wish I'd begun sooner.)
You've been a part of our lives for nearly fifteen months now. A year ago I was still getting accustomed to the cold wave crash of love combined with crippling exhaustion that marked my entry into motherhood. I loved you passionately and felt intensely anxious whenever we were apart; at the same time I spent a lot of time fantasizing about a hotel room in Maui where I could go live by myself, sleep as much as I wanted, and forget about this crazy thing your father and I had done in choosing to procreate.
A year later you and I are both sleeping a lot better, though you still wake up once or twice a night for a few minutes of cuddling. I know I should let you cry yourself back to sleep so that I'm not still getting up with you when you're three, but my resistance is so low at night and your cries so utterly heartbreaking. A couple of weeks ago I decided I would go into your room so that you knew I was there, tell you I loved you, and lay you back down. I did this for a couple of days, then you started wrapping your arms tightly around my neck the moment I picked you up, and that innocent trusting baby monkey grip broke down any resolve to teach you how to go back to sleep by yourself, forced me to sit down with you and rock. When I hold you at night you always tuck your legs and arms up underneath your torso, and I bury my nose in the soft downy hair on your head and rub your curved back. Daddy says you're like a drug for me. He's right. There are times when my soul feels like it's rotted through and will never be good for me again and I will pick you up and the purity of your little spirit will permeate mine and I will feel clean and bright and good again.
We moved into our first house when you were one year, one month, and one day old. You were just barely starting to toddle around then. At night I'd sit in the rocking chair in your room and watch you practice walking: you'd stand behind the door by the wall, shove the door closed, and walk to it. Then you'd swing it back open against the wall, and walk to it. You'd go back and forth for maybe a half hour-- until I got bored and dumped you in your crib. At the beginning of your adventures in bipedalism, you felt that crawling was still a much more efficient way of getting around. But now you walk everywhere you go-- and you're even working on learning to run (practice sessions currently consist of a few hurried steps followed by a face plant that you don't even seem to notice.) I'm in no hurry for you to master the technique of rapid ambulation; I have a hard enough time keeping up with you as it is.
Anything that is electronic, wheeled, or mechanical holds special powers over you. When I'm filling the dishwasher, you're busy pushing around the wheeled rack, opening and closing the door, and spinning the water blades. When I'm in the bathroom, you dash off to your bedroom to shove over the fan, turn it on, turn it up, turn it down, move it around. You spend a lot of time, your eyebrows knitted and your lips pooched out in concentration, examining things, tweaking them here, pulling them there, turning them this way and that.
As of late you've developed a voracious appetite for books. And I wish I meant that you simply thirsted after their content; alas, I mean it quite literally. Whenever your solitary playtime grows quiet, Daddy or I will immediately come to see which book you've found to nosh. We'll fish the cardboard out of your mouth and take the book away, but this doesn't stop you from sneaking away and indulging in this strange appetite when our attention is diverted. Most of your books have edges and bindings that have been eaten away, though I must acknowledge that books are not your only source of edible cardboard: earlier today you ate a good portion of a Ziplock bag dispenser; a couple days ago you gnawed off the bottom of an oatmeal container. I feed you several nutritious meals a day, but this doesn't stop you from saving room for your one true culinary pleasure. Sometimes I feel like I've mothered a goat, not a child.
Words hold very little interest for you. You do like to hear books read aloud and you'll listen while I recite a nursery rhyme or tell a story, but it's the rhythms and intonations that are fascinating to you; the meanings and forms or words seem to you to be of little consequence. The only word you'll say right now with any consistency is "Dada." Sometimes I'll patiently remind you that it isn't Dada who nursed you for thirteen months, who gets up with you in the night, who bathes you every evening, who dresses and feeds you, who tiptoes into your room to make sure you're covered properly with your blanket. I'll explain to you that "Mama. Mah-Mah. MAH. MAH." is the person who does these things, but you'll just smile your twinkly little smile at me and say, "Dadadadadadada!" And then maybe you'll throw back your head and crow like a rooster.
I cut your hair for the first time on March 14th. It was getting scraggly and a bit mullet-ish. I plunked you in your high chair, handed you a bunch of hair clipper guards, and did my best to trim things up. You, of course, wiggled, whined, jerked your head around, and grabbed for the scissors. So your new haircut is a bit uneven. Even so, it looks much better. I know some moms dread their baby's first haircut and weep afterwards, declaring that their child no longer looks like a baby. I felt no such sentiment. I was just relieved you no longer looked homeless. I didn't even save a lock of the hair for your baby book; I tossed it all callously in the garbage. Today I molded your newly shortened hair into a jaunty little "faux-hawk." Your father groaned, as he always does when I spike your hair, and declared that I was sending you straight down the path of juvenile delinquency.
Other cute things that you are doing right now include: puckering up your lips and breathing rapidly through your nose; speaking Sorenese alternately in very high and very low voices; and laughing maniacally whenever you knock something over.
You're at an age of self-destruction. It seems that every time I turn around you're bleeding. Just this week you've sliced your thumb on my razor, split your chin open on the cedar chest on the landing, and dived off our bed, splitting and bruising your lip. On this latter occasion, I gathered you up in my arms and took you into the kitchen so you could bleed on the hard floor instead of the carpet. You sat on my lap and screamed while your dad looked on in great concern for the welfare of my blouse sleeves, which he tenderly rolled up to keep from getting bloody.
You've also started developing your masculine thrill-seeking behaviors: during your bath, you find it hilarious to put your face in the water, breathe in, and emerge sputtering and coughing. You giggle a little, then do it again. And again. And again. Eventually it scares you, you start to cry, and I have to take you out of the tub and give you some loves. But that doesn't prevent you from trying it again next time.
Little boy, you grow up so fast. You are the greatest joy and greatest challenge of each of my days. You are sometimes a burden, but you are always sometimes a help: when no one else can make me laugh, you can. Thank you. I hope that I help every day brings new surprises and discoveries for you. I pray that every day I help you feel hat you are loved, cared for, and capable. You are my little angel and I love you very much. Please always know that I love you very much.