Today you turn nine-months-old. This means that you have been outside of my womb for as long as you were inside it. At first it seemed you didn’t like it on this side that much, but in the last month you have turned into one of the most giggly, tender and joyous creatures that ever lived, at least when you’re not screeching or trying to dig my eyes out of their sockets. That hurt.
(This is you with your Caesar hairdo. It’s the only hairdo your hair will allow.)
When you were just weeks old and the transition in our lives was going a little haywire, people used to say to me, wait until she’s three-months-old, or wait until she’s six-months-old. Then, they said, things would be a lot better. Well, I waited and waited, and after the three and six months mark I was getting a little worried because you still seemed a little upset that I had taken away your placenta. But here at nine months, oh dear little Leta, we have hit that magical time when things are so okay. This month I finally remembered why I wanted to procreate in the first place because you are just so cute that the frightening thought of one day trying to have another baby POPPED INTO MY HEAD, OH MY GOD. Someone please pinch me or throw water in my face and rid me of that nonsense.
In the last month we have met Leta The Person. You are no longer this little blob of a thing that I take care of and wipe up, but this flailing, wiggly little personality that likes certain things and really, really doesn’t like other things. You love pears. You do not like peaches and will fling them at me if I try to feed them to you. You like applesauce. You do not like vanilla custard and you make this horrible gagging noise as it sits in your mouth and tries to make an innocent descent into your throat. You love to be tickled under your neck and around your thighs. You do not like it when I try to eat your nose and you’ll look at me like, “Mom, that is so not cool. Get a grip.”
In the last week you have discovered that if you throw yourself backwards while sitting on my lap that the whole world turns UPSIDE-DOWN! You LOVE to throw yourself backwards and gurgle as you do it, and then you wait there for me to tickle you on your neck, and it is just the funniest thing in the whole world to you. If I’m late to tickle you on the neck you make this jerking motion with your body that seems to say, “Hey. Hey. You’re supposed to tickle me on the neck now. Why are you veering from the routine. I can only stay in this thrown back position for so long, woman. Snap to it!”
We’re still going to physical therapy to try to get you to put weight on your legs, but I think we’re butting heads with the most stubborn part of your personality. You are not yet mobile; you aren’t crawling or scooting or rolling across the floor. You’re just very content to sit there surrounded by toys, and when you see other kids walking or crawling you stare at them like, “Why are they wasting such precious energy? Energy that could be used to rip apart a toy or scream for attention? Do they not know that EVERYTHING can be delivered right to them? That’s what this whole baby thing is about.” Right now I’m confident that you’re going to be fine developmentally, that you’ll eventually want something so badly that you’ll move your body in its direction somehow. But I have to admit that having you immobile is kinda convenient. I can turn my back and not worry that you’ll be halfway across the room about to put your tongue into a light socket.
We finally have a solid routine during the day, one that can be timed by the clock, and you seem to like it just as much as I do. Within minutes of your naptime you show me signs of fatigue and make it solidly clear that you want nothing more than to curl up in your crib. The biggest sign that you are tired is the rapid sucking of your thumb. Yes, the nightmare that people warned me about CAME TRUE: You are a thumb sucker! (That should be read as if God were yelling it down from the sky). You suck your thumb, and surprisingly, THE WORLD STILL TURNS. The best part about your thumb-sucking is, well, okay there are two best parts about your thumb sucking:
1) It takes you about three or four times to get your thumb into your mouth right. You’ll bring it to your mouth, and then pull it away, and then bring it close again, and then pull away, like, “No, no, no, that’s just not right!” The rest of your fingers caress your nose as you do this, and then finally, when you get your thumb into your mouth JUST RIGHT, your whole body relaxes like you’ve just taken a huge hit off a bong.
2) You suck your thumb rather loudly when you sleep. So loudly that we can hear it through the monitor, and your father is constantly telling me to turn that damn thing down. I like to hear it, because it lets me know that you are asleep and happy and snuggly with your friend, the thumb. But it is kind of an annoying noise, slurp slurp slurp, and I smile inside thinking about how horrified you would be if I recorded that sound and played it for your friends at your 16th birthday party. THAT is going to be awesome.
Today is a bit of a sad day for your father and me as the person we wanted to win the Presidency was defeated. It’s sad mostly because we’ve brought you into a country that is heavily divided, and we’re worried that things aren’t going to get much better in your lifetime. We’re leaving your generation a huge mess to deal with, but I want you to know now, here when your judgment isn’t clouded by the crap that you’ll hear on TV, here when your heart is pure, I want you to know that your father and I want to teach you love and compassion. We want to teach you that there are always several sides to every story. We want to teach you about all religions and let you choose for yourself what you want to believe. We want to teach you that there is power in knowledge, but that there is even more power in reaching out and loving other people, that life is about relationships and friends and giving everything you’ve got.
I love you, Leta. I love that you hug me tightly before I put you down for naps. I love it when you growl like a bear because you know that it makes me laugh. I love how you like to turn the pages in books. I love it that you cry when I leave and then brighten up like a sun-flooded room when I come back. I will always come back to you.