I promise, I’ve been writing this letter since before your ten-month mark, even though it is now well after. We’ve been busy! Busy driving to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving, busy painting the bathroom, busy chasing you all around our house, keeping you from the very thing you love most in life: standing by the toilet.
You are everywhere, Elsa. Ripping up pages of books, tugging on the Christmas tree, scattering tupperware lids all over our kitchen floor. You pull yourself to standing on everything and everything, cautiously lowering yourself to crawl! crawl! crawl! as I hear the smacking of your palms on the hardwood floors going faster and faster every day. You stop only to watch the microwave spin as though it were a rare sighting of the norther lights. And of course, Owen. You will drop whatever it is you were doing for a mere glance from him.
This month has been one of the sweetest for me as a mother, because something has clicked in Owen’s mind, and he’s suddenly so aware of you. He plays peek-a-boo with you for minutes on end, to your squeals and squawks of delight. He beckons you up the stairs, and you can now crawl after him with speed, stopping on every other step to bob up and down in happiness. This past month, I have heard you both cracking up, eliciting peals of laughter from one another, giggle sessions that go on and on as you both splash in the bathtub, spit toys across the room, “wrestle” on giant pillow piles of Owen’s creation. It is not perfect. He still knocks you over several times a day. Often on purpose. He still hates it when you cry in the car, when you knock over his towers, or even think about touching his Monkey. But it is such a sweet thing to see the two of you enjoying one another.
Your dad and I theorize: maybe it’s because we moved you out of his room? We gave up on room sharing. For now. After weeks on end of you waking each other up and not being able to let you cry for a couple minutes, we heeded the advice of an older, wiser mom at church and put you upstairs in the pack ‘n play. Almost immediately, our sleep improved dramatically. We’re getting up once a night most nights: a dramatic improvement over three times! In a few months, when you’re consistently sleeping through the night, we’ll try again, but for now, this is working.
Elsa, despite the way you terrorize our house and your affinity for chewing on all of the electrical cords, you are so, so fun. You are waving like a champion now. Mostly hi, sometimes bye too. You excitedly wave your arm up and down, so proud of yourself for knowing what’s going on. This month, you discovered clapping. It was slow at first, but now our days are punctuated by your clapping, and we all break out into wild applause and cheering at least three times every meal because you clap and look at us as if to say: “Remember this guys? Remember when I clapped and you all went crazy? Let’s do that again!” We can’t stop ourselves from responding.
You are making all sorts of sounds, trying out your tongue. In all of our travelling this month, you and I spent a lot of time in public restrooms. You would squawk like a seagull through every diaper change, laughing at the sound of your own echo, looking at me like Did you hear that?! That was hilarious! You are still totally taken with animals, and whether it’s climbing on Sol or crawling after Coda, you make your happy seagull sounds around them too.
Your hair is finally growing, and you are well on your way to a mullet. I can’t quite bring myself to trim your four long strands in front, because although they are hanging in your eyes, it’s really all you have. You have 6 1/2 teeth, and you weigh 21.5 pounds and are wearing 18 month-2T clothes. 2T! . I’m almost ready for you to just walk already, because honestly, girl, you’re pretty heavy to lug around.
Elsa, I see it. I see you turning into a toddler. A little girl. Just today, you were hugging the puppy (Muffy!) you’re Aunt Brea gave you and kind of softly singing (to it?) and my mind instantly pictured you cuddling dolls and talking to your stuffed animals like I used to. So when you sleep in the Ergo, your breath warm on my skin, or I nurse you quietly in the middle of the night, just us, I breathe a little slower. I close my eyes. I try to remember the weight of your head on my shoulder, the way your eyes flutter in almost-sleep when you nurse. You’re my baby girl, but not for too much longer.
I love you like crazy,
Things You Love: pretzel rods, cold cucumbers to chew on, puffs, pieces of food (specifically fruit!), drinking water from a sippy cup, Owen, dogs, cats, pictures of animals, pictures of other babies, nursing, baths, being naked, being picked up after a nap / sleep, the bouncy doorway seat, music, dancing, your dad’s guitar, drums, the banjo, when I come home, when your dad comes home (you crawl across the entire length of the house to greet him), standing up, walking while holding onto the couch, the crib, the ottomans, the sequins on our Christmas tree skirt, pulling on the tree / ornaments, standing by the toilet, being in the bathroom in general, electrical chords, our internet modem’s blinking lights, the microwave, your pacifier (you’re back on good terms again)
Things You Hate: getting dressed, diaper changes, teething, getting out of the bath, when you fall down / get pushed down, when I won’t nurse you in the middle of the night despite your best efforts to burrow your way through my shirt, sitting outside in the snow (because you can’t move), colder weather, getting dressed in winter gear (you cry the entire time)