All over the blogland, women write letters to their babies on their birthdays. Even their one month birthdays. I am not so good at birthdays, as 31 and KJ will tell you. I tend to write people checks. And yet, I do like my own birthday to be celebrated with well-thought out gifts. I hope you get your aunts’ and grandmothers’ talents for generosity and celebration.
The good thing about writing on one-month birthday letter is that nothing gets missed. I will only remember a few things—but maybe I can get your dad and grandmas to remember a few things too and I’ll write those down later.
It’s been a great and hard year. You are such a good baby— you’ve already endured what I think is a lot. Being preemie (20 days in the hospital), me going back to work six weeks after you were born, me going on the job market, all that travel, another hospital stay (8 days), dad and me moving to Michigan, selling the house—fixing the house. But I wonder, as you sleep your good 11 hour sleep each night and eat the 17th grape for the day, if any of this fazes you. Is this list of hardships just projection of my own bullet-point list of “hard year?” Still, you are brave, as 31 says.
And she’s right, you do eat onions. You eat everything first with caution—“What the hell have you put in my mouth?” And then the next bite, you reach for it with abandon, saying “Give me another one right now or I’ll unhook my bib and huck it in your general direction.” You like steak, salmon, veggie sausage patties, yogurt, bananas, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches (OK, you haven’t met a fruit you didn’t like), hotdogs—both tofu and Hebrew Nationals, chicken nuggets, ice cream, cookies, and, most of all, M & M’s. (You also eat a lot of dog hair. Sorry.) At this point, there’s not much you don’t like though you’re occasionally not in the mood for it—avocados are kind of hit & miss which makes your grandma Ellie and me wonder if you maybe were switched at birth in the hospital, since that’s our favorite food. This openness to new foods, I fear, will not last, so I plan to feed you foie gras and calamari before your palate closes down like a time capsule that won’t re-open, if you’re like me, until you’re 19. You love black beans and chicken and, of course, your favorite is sweet potato. I made 8 sweet potato pies for your birthday party. I hope your dad’s whole side shows up. I also bought 60 pieces of fried chicken for the family. Happy birthday to all of us.
In the morning, you wake up and talk to yourself for about half an hour. You have much to say about the letter “a”. When I come in to get you, you smile. And, since you were ten months old, you sit up for me to get you. And in the past few weeks, you’ve pulled yourself up to meet me halfway. When I pick you up, you point at the light switch. And then the picture frame. And then your hippo. We go around the room every morning, touching each thing in precise order, preparing youfor early onset OCD.
I bring you into our bed and your dad and I feign sleep while you drum away at our backs. You pull yourself up by my hip skin even though I’ve told you that’s not a handle. In the bath, you like to pull out a pubic hair and hand it to me as if I’ve misplaced it and you, Dr Watson, have found it.
You have two teeth on the bottom and you like to jut them out. It makes you look serious. In some ways you are a very serious baby but when you get laughing, it’s hard for you to stop. Or, rather, it’s hard for us to stop what you’re doing so that you’ll keep laughing. Maestra got you laughing like crazy by pulling the screen door’s chain and letting you reach up to get it. Your grandpa likes to tip you upside down, which makes you giggle. Your grandma dangles a necklace and you watch it, then grab. She pretends to be surprised and you laugh even harder.
You’re very busy. You must get to everything right now. You share all your toys. You continue your pointing ways by sticking out your index finger at every one—to say “you.” We say,“No, you” in return. You play Leapfrog noisy machine and with your blocks but you really prefer my cell phone and the remote control. When we moved the TV downstairs and began to spend most of our time up, one of your trademark busy business toys disappeared. Whenever we go back down and you see the remote, you clamor for it like you’ve found a long-lost friend.
You crawl like crazy. Sometimes, you stick your right leg out as a special rudder that propels you at the speed of light. Your dad chases you on his hands and knees but you still outrun him. You crawl to the dog food. You crawl to the stairs. You crawl to the cords that stretch seemingly from every light socket. But you don’t wear me out. Chasing you is never frustrating because so much of your time thus far has been stuck in beds and carseats and high chairs. That you can move on your own makes me know you will be the fierce woman I want you to become. Also. I carry you less, so much energy has been saved.
You like to go on walks either in BOB the stroller or in your baby backpack. You like to crawl around outside on the grass which doesn’t seem to sticker you like it does so many babies. And adults. And all of they who need a blanket to sit outside in the summer.
You’ve been swimming twice, both times in the last two weeks. You are, as expected, a water bug. We ferry you around on our backs and you look like you might go ahead and kick and blow bubbles. You wear your yellow sunhat and splash like a frog. You even leapt off the side into the water. Your dad scooped you up before you sunk too far, but we knew we were in trouble when we saw fearless in your shove off the concrete pool’s edge.
They say you can tell how much you are loved by the number of names you are called. This is a short list:
Zo, Zoster, bliggedy blig, turtlebutt, busy bee, wild woman, big head, rabbit roo, trouble, bubble butt, sweet potato, big kid, blue eyes, monkey (you do make this wild screeching noise when you want something and we haven’t read your mind quite yet—or followed your pointy finger), goose, and pterodactyl, (both also due to the very primordial sounds you make).
You blow bubbles and raspberries. You slap your fat thighs when you think something’s funny. You clap when you realize we’ve figured a little of you out. You spin around on your butt while drinking your sippy cup. You laugh while I watch you turn. You stick those two teeth out in front and dare me to come and get you. And I do.
Happy Birthday baby.