Month 15

Dear ToddlerA,

Have we talked about the crib yet? I wanted to be a Good Co-Sleeper, I did. You and I, we had some really cozy and sweet mornings waking up together in the bed. Your dad and I would often just lie there staring at you, watching you sleep between us.
And then you changed. You kicked us in the head. You flipped and flopped. You whined. You refused to stay asleep unless someone was in there with you. Some nights it took over 3 hours to get you to sleep at all. Were you trying to tell us something? Sometimes I think so.
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You sleep in your own bed now, and not just that. You sleep in YOUR OWN ROOM. I can’t believe it. You sit in there some nights for an hour or more, singing and talking to yourself. In the mornings, when you wake up, unless you’re very very hungry, I can hear you talking and playing. At naptime, I put you in the crib and you grab your sucky and do your downward facing dog falling asleep dance without even looking up at me again. You’re all growed up now, and I’m a little sad. When we go in to pick you up for the morning, you automatically throw your suckies into the crib. It took me less than a week to teach you that suckies are only for bedtime and car-another week to teach you to throw your suckies into the crib or carseat. Occasionally you stumble across some contraband, a sucky long forgotten under the couch or in the freezer. SNATCH! You’ll grab hold of that crack pipe and grin at us triumphantly, daring one of us to stick our fingers into the jaws of death to remove it. What’s sweet though, and what reveals your true angelic nature, is that when I tell you it’s time to get rid of the sucky, you throw it down. Because you’re not in bed or in the car, and EVERYONE knows suckies are only for the car and sleeping.

I must tell ya though, child. We have some REALLY nice days around here now. I mean, we had fun before. But now? Now that I get to sleep 7 hours in a ROW? (Did I mention you are now sleeping at least 9 hours a night and sometimes 11?) Now that I know when you go in for your nap that I’ll have like, a whole hour and a half to work or eat or pee by myself? It is PARTY TIME when you’re awake. There’s playing Outside. Watching Baby Einstein Santa Video, even though I know it might one day lead to ADHD. Live in the moment, man. We’re living in the moment.
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You’ve been signing “more” and “all done” for a while now. Your dad doesn’t want to teach you the corrected “all done” sign because the one you’re doing is so cute, so every time you’re ready to get off the toilet or out of the shower or down from the high chair, your whole upper body shimmies while you clasp your hands in front of your chest.

We’ve done a Bad Thing. We used to laugh and laugh when you chewed on our fingers! The chewing, it was so cute! Even when there were a couple of teeth there, your little bulldog face and head shaking back and forth was totally worth the pinch of being bitten. Can you guess what’s happening now? Well, now that you have sharp little razor teeth, every time you get near a finger you try to bite it off. You think it’s hilarious, of course, and you don’t understand us when we say, “Biting hurts, honey!” So now every time we want to check out the new teeth you have working, or try to get a toothbrush into your little death jaws, we have to wrap our fingers in padding. At least with a dog you can teach the “release!” command.

Every once in a great while, you and I sit on the couch and you’ll settle into the crook of my arm to watch about 30 seconds of a baby Einstein video before you wriggle out of my grasp and grab for the remote. Those 30 seconds…I live for those moments.

A few months ago I was very sick, Kid. I blamed you for it and on days when I wasn’t blaming you for my being sick, I blamed myself for not being a better mother to you, and some days I even blamed myself for reproducing, for bringing a baby into a situation with a mother who was Not Worthy.

There was a shift. I’ve looked back in the web log and in my journal trying to figure out what we did to change things. Perhaps you sensed that I was near a breaking point. Maybe it was just you getting older, I don’t know. All I know is, for several months now my world has been an explosion of joy and wonder. On days when I’m too listless to fully participate, I am able to watch the theater of You and TeenHer and your dad and Moses. When we put you to bed at night, there are nights when I’m actually lonely afterward. There have been days when I wanted to wake you up from your nap because I didn’t feel like we had enough time together. After over a year, I woke up one day and thought, “THIS! THIS is what mothering is supposed to feel like!”
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Thank you for that. Thank you for being an Easy Baby who rolls with the punches. Thank you for learning to work the spoon all by yourself so that I can have coffee in the mornings. Thank you for loving your grandparents so much that whenever you see them, you reach for them and then wave bye to us, which allows us on most nights to eat a whole meal in peace. Your sister thanks you for that, too. Thank you for being obsessed with Outside, which forces me to see sunlight for at least a little while every day.

We love you so much, ToddlerA. For a while there I was afraid that wouldn’t be enough, but you filled in the blanks, and taught me that as long as I love you with fierceness and determination, we will all be OK.


3 thoughts on “Month 15

  1. This is beautiful.

    I have to say that I felt so much like this when Margaret turned one. It was a whole new world of mothering, and I didn’t have it as hard as you did (no depression, no traumatic birth experience, etc.). Toddlers are sooo much better, and 7 hours of straight sleep is nothing to sneeze at. It makes it much easier to have another one when I remember how quickly that first year really does go, and how great it is when they get older.



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