A few days ago, you turned 19 months old. I’m sure one day you’ll be reading these, and think to yourself, “Geez Mom, why couldn’t you have written me a letter on my ACTUAL birthday.” To which I would most certainly reply, “Suck it, Claire of the Future. You don’t understand what you were LIKE when you were 18 months old. It was all I could to to just hang on and not hurl myself from a moving vehicle. And also I love you. And call me, I’m sure I haven’t spoken to you in a while. And clean your room.” Because that’s how I roll, yo.
Anyway, December was hard for mommy. The hubub of Thanksgiving was over, and with it left all the people who were waiting on you hand and foot. And honey, I love you, but you are more than capable of getting your own water from across the room. You started walking when you were 10 months old, and haven’t really slowed down since then. You insist on walking everywhere, in the mall, at the grocery store, around the block. But if you want something, it’s all “Mommy! Pease! Pease!” And while I love your manners, you can walk two feet to get your cup yourself.
I’ve tried to make sure that you have a lot of things to do during the day. It’s important to me that you are involved, that you spend your time with people other than me and your Daddy. We do Gymboree once a week, and Daddy and I just enrolled you in dance and gymnastic classes which you’ll start in January. You love to dance, and we always have music on. You also love to do somersaults, even though you can’t quite get your feet over yet. You’ll put your head down on the ground, little butt in the air and look at from between your legs. You also think it’s HILARIOUS if, when you’re in this stance, I say “Upside down?!” You stayed at your Lovely Aunt Addie and Uncle Dayne’s house for New Year’s Eve and I was told that you and your cousins had a Rockin’ Dance Party until late in the night. Uncle Dayne even taught you his famed Bootylicious Dance, which I haven’t even seen. I’m so glad you get to spend time with your family. Your cousins LOVE you and you love to play hostess when they come over.
We’ve taken you out to the bayhouse a few times and its one of your favorite places. That’s good because it’s one of OUR favorite places too. You could spend all day out by the water, picking up rocks and giving shells to your daddy. The last time we were out there, you picked up two shells; one for you and one for Daddy. He tried to put his down when you came back inside, but you picked it back up and gave it back to him. He carried that shell around all weekend, because you gave it to him. We’re starting a box of all the presents you give us, and one day we’ll look at it and say, “This was the shell that you gave Daddy at the bayhouse. You would get so annoyed if you had to follow him around to make sure he kept it on his person at all times.”
You’re also trying to sound out words a lot more now. There’s the old standbys that you use, “Hai Daddy, Hai Mommy. Puppy. Mo.” But now if we’re working on your puzzle and I say, “This is a Kitty.” You look at my mouth and say, “Kit-ty.” A sheep says “Ah-ah-ah” a puppy says “woof” and you know all this. You’ve named your Nanny and my dad is now Poppa. I’m working on “Love you” and have conned you into saying it a few times. That’s my favorite. You give lots of hugs, but are very stingy with your kisses. A few nights ago, we had just gotten out of the bath and you were laying on the changing table while I put your diaper and pajamas on. Most nights you fight wearing pants (hey, I can’t blame you. I don’t like wearing pants either), but that night you put your legs up so I could put your pj’s on. Then, when I stood you up to put your shirt on, you reached out to me and gave me a hug. The weight of your head on my shoulder and your hand patting my back made me melt. Then you pulled away, looked me in the eyes, and gave me a kiss. I almost lost it. It’s not that you’re a bad kid. Far from it. You just change so quickly, it’s hard for me to keep up. There are things you like one day and hate the next. You’re growing up, little grub, and I’m struggling to keep up. It’s only at night, right before I put you in your crib, when your head is on my shoulder and your arms are around my neck, and I smell the shampoo on your hair, the same kind that we’ve been using your whole life, that I can reach back in my memory – far back past the temper tantrums and beyond the words and your soft voice – and remember you as a tiny baby. It’s by far my favorite time of day.
Every day I try to be the mother you deserve. I struggle, but I hope you know that I don’t really know what I’m doing, here. This is your first time to be a baby, and my first time to be a mother. If I falter, or miss a step along the way, please be patient with me. You have taught me so much about myself – you’ve pushed my patience past it’s breaking point time and again, and you’ve stretched my love farther than I ever thought it could go. Your Dad and I were talking last night about you, the person you’ve become and the person you WILL become. We talked about what would happen if you came home drunk at 16 18 20, and how we would gain your trust. We talked about you in middle school, high school, college. But honestly, I don’t want to think about that. It’s overwhelming to think that what we do, what we teach you, will help you become who you are. I just want to think about today, and tomorrow. I want to be the best for you, and I try every day to live up to what you deserve. I love you, Claire. More everyday. Thank you.