Here's a life lesson for you: the longer put something off, the harder it will be to do.
It has been three months since I last wrote. I am so sorry. There are many reasons for the silence, but mainly it's because it is easier to write about nothing than about a great deal of somethings (like your first birthday!) and these past few months have been chock-full of noteworthy events. I’ll have to remember this in the distant future when I am bugging you to write a thank you card and you are too busy playing street hockey on your hovercraft (or whatever you kids will be doing in ten years). I’ll try to go easy on you; I’m the one who missed documenting your first birthday because I was too busy Tweeting.
Also, the longer you put something off, the more you build up expectations. Just ask your Uncle Dan H.
There's nothing like having a child to really see how quickly things can change. Last time I wrote, you were barely standing. Now you are walking (albeit like a drunken sailor). Back then, we pretended you could talk. Now, you say “tickle tickle” when you see someone’s belly (really!). Last time, you were beginning to lose your dependency on pacifiers. Now you can whip a binky into your mouth faster than I can move it out of sight (boo).
So maybe not all the changes have been progress.
Another major change? Me. I was suffering from a lot of mommy guilt when I wrote your last letter. I think a lot of factors have helped me loosen up, not the least of which is the realization that a lot of my guilt was based on my tendency to compare myself to other moms. Now I try to gauge my parenting on how well YOU’RE doing. That makes more sense, doesn’t it?
We had you dedicated at church this month. Pastor Keith, amongst other things, prayed that you will come to know the Lord at an early age. We promised to care for you, love you, and bring you up knowing God's love. It was very special to have the church community before us, promising to help raise you, too.
You are saying more words now and learning so much every day. We've tried to teach you the "How big is Anna? This big!" trick and you mostly have it down, except instead of reaching your arms out to show us how big, you either put your hands beside your head I-surrender style or pat your own head repeatedly. I guess patting your head is a very accurate answer, because you truly are THAT big.
You obviously understand a lot more now. We have to be careful not to mention "milk" until we have the bottle in hand and ready since once you hear the word, you want it NOW. When you hear us say "outside," you wave at everyone in the room and make a beeline for the door. I am yet again doing something I thought was just a cliche—spelling words so you won’t understand. M-I-L-K is easy. Not looking forward to the days we’ll have to spell longer words out loud. Or worse, sound out the words the other parent is spelling.
Your Lola and Angkong were visiting last week. You kept grabbing books and dragging them to your Lola, then pointing to the armchair by the window. It is so very nice to see you enjoying books after all the months of tossing them aside after the first page. (You had your English-major mom worried for a while.)
We were a bit apprehensive before your Lola and Ankong arrived because you've been especially clingy the past couple of weeks. At first our fears were realized: you refused to let them hold you and you cried and whined a good bit of the way home from Maryland. Once we got home, however, you relaxed. Now you happily play with Angkong and Lola and only refuse to be held by Lola when you are being especially cheeky, and even then I suspect you are teasing.
I made a joke over the weekend about how you are the "bad" kid in the church nursery now. I probably should have chosen my words more carefully. You are certainly not a "bad" kid, despite your increasing cheekiness. You just went from being the most laid-back child we know to being the kid who grabs mom's calves with a vise-like grip when mom attempts to leave the room. I suspect that you are clingy for good reasons. You are now weaned. You spend four mornings a week with someone other than Mom (church nursery on Sundays and Wednesdays, Grandpa on Mondays, Aunt N. on Thursdays). We still do a lot of traveling.
I had a real "mom" moment the other day when I backed out of attending a lecture at the law school because it would mean a night with a babysitter for an already-insecure you. Sometimes I don’t realize that something needs to change until you are all of a sudden not acting like yourself. I still have mornings when I am startled to realize that it’s been too long since I've changed or checked your diaper. I guess having to sit in your own poop for too long would make anyone cry and refuse a nap. The thing is, it's taken me a while to get the hang of this mom thing. Your dad and I joke that it’s a good thing babies don’t remember the first couple of years of life, since that gives parents a buffer period in which they can learn how to be parents. I think there’s some truth to that.
As I write this, I am sitting at Webster’s downtown. You are at your Aunt Naomi’s house playing with Gloria, as you do every Thursday morning. Part of getting the hang of motherhood meant realizing one thing—it is NICE to not be a mom for a bit. People kept telling us that we needed to protect our marriage by setting aside time for dates, but no one mentioned how important it is to have time to myself. Having a morning free to read the paper with a cup of coffee in a crowded coffee shop (so original, I know) is revitalizing for me. And it is nice to be able to run errands without having to wrestle with a car seat at every stop.
Just as wonderful is the fact that you are developing a friendship with Gloria. You break out in big smiles when you see each other. You make quite a team, too—Gloria, the strong one, arranges the furniture so you, the monkey, can climb on top of them. Aunt Naomi and I appreciate the fact that you and Gloria have the opportunity to learn how to share. The two of you fight for toys (and food) and you’ve had to experience the extreme frustration of another kid stealing your pacifier and running away faster than you can follow. You’re the only child for now, but it’s good for you to learn that you are not the center of the universe. So you’re clingy in response to not getting as much one-on-one attention, but maybe this is one lesson that’s also part of growing up. And playing with a kid who could squash you if she wanted is probably good in toughening you up.
Although you’re certainly more challenging when you are clingy, I have to admit that I am also kind of loving it—you went from being a squirmy, independent baby to being a major cuddle-bug. The first thing you do every morning when Daddy picks you up from your crib and brings you to our bed is bury our face in my neck. During the day, when I’m sitting at my desk, you periodically take a break from playing and reach your arms up towards me for a hug and cuddle. You even sit still on our laps now.
You are growing so quickly, Anna. I am afraid that I'll blink and another three months will have gone by. But I'll write again before then. Promise.
We love you,
Mom and Dad