Sunday, December 31, 2017

Dear Will - Two Years Old

Dear Will,

I wrote this letter on the day that you turned two. But as it sometimes happens, life intervened. It was Fourth of July weekend and there was family to be with and pools to jump in and popsicles to eat and a birthday party to plan, and publishing this somehow got lost in the shuffle. Yesterday you turned two and a half and it's snowy and cold outside and miles away from that steaming hot summer day when you walked around all day in your blue bathing suit telling everyone who would listen, "Will is two." But six months late is better than not at all, so this is for you, my not so little anymore baby boy, exactly as I wrote it then.


You are two years old today.

It's 6:40am and you are still sleeping as I write this. I can hear you stirring and I know that in a few minutes you'll be wide awake and calling for me. And I'll come scoop you out of your crib and you'll ask for milk and two pancakes and your blue iPad and I'll give them to you. And we'll sit on the couch together for awhile before anyone else wakes up and before I go downstairs to start working, you with your breakfast and YouTube videos and me with coffee and maybe a book. An ordinary day, celebrating a day two years ago that was decidedly less so.

You were born early, early in the morning. It was a Tuesday. The sky had just started to lighten when a nurse handed you to me for the first time. You were all wrapped up and so tiny that I had to pull the blanket down to get a good look at you. The room we were in was filled with a buzzy energy as doctors and nurses bustled around doing all the things that doctors and nurses do right after a baby is born, but none of it seemed to bother you. You laid there with me and looked around at things you couldn't really see yet with eyes that were already blue, occasionally fidgeting around in your blanket, barely making a sound as you got yourself acquainted with your new surroundings, closed your eyes for a quick rest, and repeat. Barely five minutes old and you were already a cool customer.

And I was tired. I think I was the most tired I have ever been in my entire life and I wasn't entirely sure that I wouldn't just fall asleep right there, my eyes drifting closed right along with yours. But even though every part of me was exhausted I couldn't stop looking at you, trying to see if I could see myself stamped on your face somewhere, wondering who you were exactly. Who you would be. Who I would be now that you were here.

It's been a two years since that early morning in the hospital, and we're no longer new at this, you and I. Our lives have long since settled into a routine, and it's been awhile since I thought about those blurry and chaotic early days. But two nights ago, I did. 

It was 6:00. You bounced up from the little table where you eat dinner now, your highchair retired, unused, to the corner of the dining room. You came running into the kitchen where I was loading the dishwasher and demanded a "possible" which is your word for "popsicle." I asked you what color you wanted and you said "orange. no, red. red possible." We went outside so you could drip that popsicle all over the place with abandon and run around for awhile before bed. You got busy right away lining up all the toys in the water table, running up and down the deck stairs into the yard, asking to go jump in the big pool, pressing the doorbell on your new playhouse to hear all of the different sounds, and examining all of the rocks in the fire pit. We spun in circles, and sang songs, and talked about how you were about to be two, and you decided you had enough of your red popsicle and asked for an orange one instead. And I gave it to you even though it was almost 7 because you asked and it's summer and sometimes being a mom means breaking the rules and staying outside to play and eat treats on a gorgeous night long after you should really be sleeping. And it seemed impossible that the newborn baby and this inexhaustible toddler running around in front of me could be the same person.

This is you, absolutely, at two years old. Bright and smiley, funny and curious, adventurous and brave and absolutely fearless. A lover of music and books and TV and veggie straws and absolutely anything with sugar. Full of fierce concentration when you're doing something that is important to you and delighted with yourself and with the world in general. Never walking anywhere when you can run, talking up a storm, and making us laugh every day with your sense of fun and your brand new observations on everything you see.

Last night, on your very last night of being 1, I put you to sleep, the same way I have almost every night of your two years. After you finished drinking your milk we sang some songs like we always do and then I put you in your crib. You jumped around for awhile and then laid your head down and we talked about your dreams - our routine since you really started talking a few months ago. Last night you told me you wanted to dream about colors and you rolled onto your back and started listing all the colors that you know and then you grinned up at me and said "hi mommy." And like it sometimes happens in those quiet moments while I'm putting you to sleep, the enormous gratitude - that you're here, that you're mine, that you're healthy and happy and silly and fun - reached up and grabbed me by the throat.

Since the day you were born I've always understood that it's the ordinary moments - and the quietest ones - that I'll always be the most grateful for. The moments I have time to stop and absorb, to know that I'll always be able to look back and remember how it was when you were small. Because even now, looking down at you in the crib you love so much, fresh from the bath and snuggled up with your beloved "Poppy blankey," I know that it won't always be like this. That one day you won't want to sing silly songs and talk about dreams and ask me a million questions so that I'll stay with you in your room just a little bit longer. This is the natural way of things, and that makes me happy and sad all at the same time and I wouldn't have it any other way. Motherhood is funny like that.

Happy second birthday my sweet Will. I love watching your grow, and I can't wait to see what comes next.

With love as big as the sky,


Previous Letters:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

This is Thirty-Four

This morning, when my alarm went off at 6, I felt like I had just gone to sleep. I got out of bed into a quiet house, and went downstairs to finish packing bags for work and daycare, then I got into the shower and by the time I got out, my 18 month old was wide awake and yelling "mommy" from his crib, and my house was quiet no more. He drank some milk while I got dressed, then I got him dressed, got him his beloved morning Kix, and we were out the door. He insisted on listening to ABCs on repeat in the car all the way to daycare, and threw a serious tantrum when it was time for me to leave. I got some coffee, and made it just in time to catch my train. In the quiet car I started a new book, and read my way into Manhattan.

This, I think, is thirty-four. Being a mom. Having a full-time job. In the thick of family life with an opinionated and fiercely independent toddler, always just a little bit tired, addicted to schedules, and grabbing moments of quiet whenever and wherever I can find them.

Thirty-four is eighteen months into this parenting gig. It is being more confident, and less afraid. It is not being freaked out by fevers anymore, and not running to the phone to call the pediatrician for every little rash or runny nose. It is looking at my toddler with something like disbelief that he could possibly have grown so much and learned so many things in such a short time. It is getting a little thrill every time he says "mommy" because it took him so damn long to learn how to say it. It is toddler babbles turning into actual words and dancing to ring around the rosy in the kitchen and reading Llama, Llama Red Pajama six times in a row.

Thirty-four is trying hard to remember that sometimes the best thing I can do for my little guy is to step back and trust him to be who he is. To stop worrying about whether he is eating or drinking or playing enough, or if he is watching too much TV. To stop comparing him to other kids and counting the hours he sleeps in a day and obsessing over whether he's hitting his milestones on time. It's understanding that for the most part, my job is to give him confidence and love and fun and room to grow, and meals and snacks when he's supposed to have them, and the rest will just take care of itself. It is knowing that this stepping back and letting go happens more often and more dramatically as the years pass, and trying to be here now as much as I can in this brief moment in time when he is small and needs me more than he ever will.

Thirty-four is no longer being shocked at how much a baby changes everything. My friendships, my family, my career, my house, my entire life - all of these things look different when they are covered in a layer of toys, sippy cups, diapers, schedules, and a toddler who suddenly has opinions about everything. It is realizing that trying to act like nothing has changed is exhausting, and that it is absurdly freeing to let go and accept the fact that I'm different than I used to be, that I'll never be exactly the person I was, and that's ok.

Thirty-four is leaning more heavily on my friends - both in person and online - who are also moms for their experience, and for the solidarity, and for feeling less alone on this parenting road. Because what I know that I didn't know before is that even though every kid is different, some parts of being a mom are universal, and no matter how much you think you can do it all, it really does take a village.

But thirty-four is also clinging to my old friends - the ones who knew me when my house was clean for longer than eleven seconds at a time and when I didn't have to schedule nights out around bedtimes and early morning wake-ups. Because for as much as I have changed over the past year and a half, I'm still the same french fry eating, pop-culture junkie, obsessive TV watcher, lover and collector of romance novels that I used to be, and sometimes I need a reminder of that part of me too.

Thirty-four is making a major career change I didn't even know I needed. It is realizing that at this time in my life, I don't need or even really want a high powered job in a fancy office that requires suits and heels and an utterly inflexible schedule. What I need is to do good and fulfilling work with good people, and then go home hug my baby. And I feel so lucky that the right opportunity found me at just the right time, and I am happier in my career than I have ever been. I've been in this long enough to know that the elusive "having it all" doesn't actually exist in real life, but I feel like, at thirty-four, I am as close to it as anyone ever gets to be.

Thirty-four is a lot of wondering. Wondering if I'm doing all the things I'm supposed to be doing. Wondering if I'll ever start feeling like an adult or if maybe this is what an adult feels like. Wondering if I'm being a good enough parent, a good enough partner, a good enough employee, a good enough friend, sister, daughter, woman. Wondering if I'll ever be able to fit properly into my pre-pregnancy jeans or whether I even really care about that. Wondering if there will ever be a time when I have all the laundry simultaneously clean, folded, and put away. Wondering if maybe it's time to start figuring out things like eye cream and anti-aging whatevers and the proper way to apply under-eye concealer. And it's a lot, all of this wondering,

But thirty-four is realizing every night when I put my thriving, happy baby to sleep and sit on the couch with my man in the quiet of my house after a day filled with noise, that I am doing as good a job as I know how to do with all of it, and really, that's the most that any of us can ask of ourselves. And after a difficult year in this country and for the world, and with an uncertain future looming, I understand now more than ever that I have a life that's goodI think that for all of the messiness and the exhaustion and the worry and the details that come with motherhood and with life, thirty-four is kind of a miracle. Because I get to be here with the people I love and who love me and because thirty-four is old enough to know that none of this is a given. None of us know how much time we'll have or how much time the ones we love will have, so I take what I've been given and use it the best way I can. By spending it doing the things I love most, surrounded by my people, with little boy giggles in the background. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Dear Will - Eighteen Months Old

Dear Will,

You are eighteen months old today. 

This morning before I dropped you off at daycare, we were in the kitchen and you were eating Kix from your favorite cereal cup and you pointed up at our Amazon Echo and said "daddys," which is your word for "monkeys." So I put on the song 5 Little Monkeys, and you grinned at me as you bounced up and down and sang along with the words you knew and then asked me to play it again. And then twice more. And then you decided you wanted to hear the ABCs instead, that you needed to tip over your ball pit and go searching for a toy that had somehow found its way under the refrigerator, that you wanted applesauce instead of cereal, and that you definitely did not want to wear your hat, even though it was twenty degrees outside. 

This is absolutely you in a nutshell at a year and a half. Happy, curious, and brave, sure of what you want, defiant about what you don't, and thrilled with yourself and life in general. 

Eighteen months is my absolute favorite so far. As you have grown I have always been able to see tiny glimmers of who you might be, but over the past month you have really come into your own. You are sweet, loving, and fun, quick with your laughs, and generous with your smiles. You have an independent streak a mile wide, and a curious nature that somehow always leads you towards whatever happens to be the most dangerous thing around you, be it stairs, the open dishwasher full of knives, or the oven handle that you are about two centimeters away from being able to grab.

As always, you still love playing with toys. Your favorite thing to do is to stack blocks, legos, and magnatiles, and then knock your towers down. You are also a bit of a daredevil, climbing everything that can possibly be climbed, jumping off, and then turning around and doing it all over again. You still love books, the Llama Llama series most of all, but you like to read to yourself more than you like being read to. Music is your number one love, and with just a little bit of help you can sing almost the whole ABCs. You can do all the hand motions to Itsy Bitsy Spider and Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, and you love wagging your finger and saying "no, no, no, no, no" when we sing 5 Little Monkeys.

You started saying words a couple of months ago, and just in the past week or two, you have started figuring out how to put the words you know together. In some ways, eighteen months is hard because you know exactly what you want, but you don't always have the words to tell me. It's frustrating for you, and often ends in an impressive tantrum, but it's also fascinating to watch you watch me while I try to give you the words you need and while you find your voice. You are learning so quickly, and I promise that soon, the frustration of not being able to communicate all the way will be behind us.

It's been awhile since I've written to you like this. For your first twelve months, you could find me at the computer on the 30th of every month, like clockwork, documenting your goings-on for the last thirty days. I was practically religious about it, about documenting your days, and your every milestone. Time was passing by so quickly that I had whiplash, afraid that if I didn't write it all down I wouldn't remember. That I would somehow forget those early days when you were small and I was learning how to be your mom.

But even with the best of intentions and the meticulous documenting of your days, I have forgotten things. I can't remember the exact date you started to crawl, or the day you said your first word. I don't remember exactly how old you were when solid food stopped being a curiosity and started being the normal way of things. I don't remember exactly when you finally learned how to use a sippy cup, and I can never, ever remember which vaccines you have had and when, even though the doctor writes it down for me every time.

But I don't really mind anymore that I have forgotten some of these things. Your first year was filled with cascades of details and it's impossible to remember every single one of them. Eighteen months into this parenting gig, I understand now that this is the way of things. Time moves quickly, things change and so do people, and the tiny details often get swept away in the busyness of our days, buried by the logistics of pick-ups and drop-offs and play dates and meals and baths and bedtimes. But every now and then I look at you and time freezes for just a second and I am reminded yet again what a privilege it is that you are here and so am I, and that I get to be your mom and watch you grow and help you become whoever it is that you will be. And these are the moments that stick with me. The ones that I will remember long after you are grown and these busy, exhausting, and beautifully full days are behind us.

Tomorrow is the last day of the year - your very first full year. And at midnight, when one year ends and another begins, before I crawl into bed, I will tiptoe into your room and watch you for a few minutes while you sleep, and make some quiet wishes for the days and months ahead. There are big things and little things that I will wish for you, but most of all, I will wish for more of this. More of these good days of happiness and health and family and friends. More smiles and laughter and music and fun. More time - as much time as I can get - to be your mom and to watch you grow. 

You are the very best thing, sweet Will. I'm so glad you get to be mine.

With love as big as the sky,


Thursday, November 10, 2016

On a Night that Wasn't

It took some time for me to find these words. I have spent the past 40 or so hours in something closely resembling shock, with a healthy dose of disbelief, and a sprinkling of fear mixed in for good measure.

This morning, for the second morning in a row, I woke up and for a second I didn't remember, and then I did. And I wanted to pull the covers over my head but my son was stirring, so instead I got up and lifted him from his crib, kissed his cheeks still warm from sleep, and carried him into my room. I settled him down on my bed and as I stood for a minute and watched him drink his beloved morning bottle, the words started to come.

As I write this, I am sitting on a train heading into Manhattan for my ninth day at my new job. A job I like very much and am thrilled to have started, but that I haven't been able to bring myself to write about here or even mention very much at all. All along the train platform people have been staring at each other with glazed eyes and shell-shocked looks on their faces.

"I can't believe this happened," they say to each other. "What do we do now?" they ask.

There were tears that sunglasses worn despite cloudy, rainy weather couldn't mask, questions that don't have any answers, and whispered acknowledgment that we are suddenly hurling towards a profoundly uncertain future. One that the majority of the pundits and pollsters and talking heads on cable news assured us over and over again was unlikely, if not out of the question entirely.

I thought the train yesterday, and my office, would be emptier than usual, people having chosen to stay home, to call in sick rather than face their daily routines on little sleep and under the specter of what had happened just hours before. But they weren't. People opted to come to work, to be in the world, to face yesterday in rooms full of people, processing it all in groups rather than alone.

Last night I had a big meeting at work, and at the beginning of the hour the head of the team stood up and acknowledged that most of us were probably having a pretty bad, exhausted day. Everyone nodded. He said that he was too, that he stayed in front of the TV all night and had only slept an hour or two. He smiled. He said he understood. He said we would get through this. At his direction and insistence, more than 200 people in offices across the United States stood up from their chairs, stretched their arms above their heads, and high-fived the person sitting next to them. Ridiculous, maybe, in light of the week's horror, but damned if for a minute or two after that we didn't all feel just a tiny bit better.

It turns out that Hillary Clinton was right all along. We really are stronger together.

It's a strange irony, and a strangely comforting one. She wasn't wrong, and we weren't wrong to believe in her, to embrace her message and to champion her vision of hope and love and diversity and inclusion. And in this new reality, that message might be more important than ever. We have always known this of course, and know it even more strongly after watching her graceful and courageous concession speech yesterday morning, but the voices on the other side are loud, and our exhaustion sometimes makes it hard to filter them out and remember who we are and what is important. But we must.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have not been a lifelong Democrat. I have written about it in these pages before. I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans, but the issues that I care most about have increasingly aligned me with the Democrats over the past decade. I voted for President Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. And I have supported Hillary since the beginning of this long, exhausting campaign, not just because she is a woman and not because she was the "least bad," but because she was experienced and prepared and perhaps the most qualified person to ever run for President of this country. And because her view of the world is one in which I would be proud to raise my children. I wanted her to be my President. Their President.

And so. Yesterday morning I got up early to vote. I wanted to go before I went to work, but more than that, I wanted to take my son with me to the polls. It was still dark outside when we parked at the elementary school a few blocks from home. The gym where we voted was packed with families, mothers and fathers who wanted, as I did, their children to be there to see us vote for a woman for president. A lot of our kids were little, but we thought that one day we would tell them how they were there on the day that history was made.

I caught the eyes of some of the other mothers in line, and we smiled and nodded to each other, members of a secret club, with full hearts, in quiet understanding of the weight of the day. With the acknowledgement that we were casting these ballots not just for us, but for our grandmothers and great-grandmothers who did not live to see this day, and for our children, some of whom were literally sitting at our feet as we voted, too young to understand what was happening, so that we might raise them in a world where they take it for granted that a woman can lead a country.

I was emotional as I filled out the ballot, my eyes filling with tears as I slid it into the scanner, walked back to my car, dropped my son off at daycare, started my day. I hoped that later that night we would watch Hillary Clinton give a long-awaited and much deserved victory speech under the great glass ceiling at the Javitz Center in New York.

By midnight, it was increasingly clear that that speech was not to come. And I was devastated. Am devastated. For myself, for my son, for everyone who feels less safe today than they did on Tuesday morning. For this country.

So many of my friends and colleagues worried over how to explain this to their children who are old enough to understand what happened. And to be completely honest, I'm relieved that, as the mother of a 16 month old, I'm spared that particular conversation right at this moment. But it didn't stop me from thinking about what I would say to him if he asked me. And thinking about it has helped me process where we go from here.

If he asked me, I would tell him that this is the way that a democracy works. Someone wins and someone loses, and it's ok to be sad that the candidate that you supported lost.

If he asked me, I would tell him that women and men are equal and that a woman can be just as good a president as a man can. I would tell him that in his lifetime another woman will run for President, and that one day, a woman will be the President.

If he asked me, I would tell him that we will spend the next four years working hard and fighting to make sure that this country stays a safe place for everyone who lives here.

If he asked me, I would tell him that it's more important than ever to be a good person, and to be kind, and to treat people who are different than we are with love and respect.

If he asked me, I would tell him that hate and mean words have no place in this house and in the world. I would tell him that I won't tolerate this, ever. That this is not who we are.

If he asked me, I would hug him tight and I would tell him that I love him and that he doesn't have to be afraid. I would tell him that it is my job to protect him and that we will be ok.

And we will. Because we lost, and we might be afraid, but we aren't powerless. I keep reminding myself that I am the same person I was yesterday, and so are my friends, and the people in my family and none of us want to leave for our children a country and a world steeped in hate and fear and stripped of rights. And there are millions of other people in this country, a majority in fact, who agree. I'm not alone. We're not alone.

This isn't the way this was supposed to go. So we let ourselves mourn the loss of the world we had hoped to wake up to yesterday morning, and then we get up. We hold our families close and surround ourselves with good people, and we let our anger and confusion and sadness spur us to action. We fight for freedom and for equality, and for the families and the people who have the most to lose over the next four years. We fight because we do not, will not, accept the descent of this country into a swamp of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and hate. We fight because our children are watching and they are counting on us to show them the way through. They expect no less of us and we should expect no less of ourselves.

This isn't what we wanted, what we hoped for, what we dreamed of. But this is where we are.

So now we get to work.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Dear Will - Twelve Months Old

Dear Will,

It's your first birthday today.

Three hundred and sixty five days ago, at right about this time, I woke up in a hospital room from a quick nap that was my first real sleep in more than twenty-four hours. It was still early in the morning, and they had taken you to the nursery for a bath and a check-up. Not at all sure what I was supposed to do, I pressed the call button hanging from my bed. An unfamiliar voice blasted out of the speaker next to my head, asking me if I needed anything. "Um, my baby, I think?" I said in a tentative voice. "No problem hon," the voice said, and hung up.

Five minutes later the door to my room opened and a nurse came in, wheeling you in a plastic bassinet. She smiled, lifted you out, handed you to me, and walked out, calling over her shoulder that I should page her if we needed anything. I thought that I probably needed a lot of things, but at that moment I didn't know what any of them were, so I just let her go.

And there we were. Just you and me.

Sometimes it seems impossible that this all happened an entire year ago. I've written to you over and over again over the last twelve months about how time seems to be flying by, and I'm feeling that again today most of all because today you are one, but it really does seem like yesterday that the nurse handed you to me and sailed out of the room, leaving me to get to know you.

And I did. I do.

I know that you love to sit on the kitchen floor while I cook, but only if you have a spoon in each hand to play with. I know that the second you push your bottle away at night I have to put you straight into your crib or it takes you a long time to fall asleep. I know that you love corn and hate scrambled eggs. I know what cry means, "I'm tired" and what cry means something hurts. I know Mother Goose Club will keep you occupied for hours but Sesame Street isn't really your jam. I know you rub your eyes when you're a little tired and your nose when you're exhausted. I know that you hate pants with buttons. I know you like the blue ball but not the orange one as much. I know you never met a television remote or a smartphone you didn't need to grab, immediately. I know that when you really like something, your smile reaches all the way up to your eyes. I know how to make you laugh. I know what your face looks like first thing in the morning and right before you fall asleep.

You were mine the very second they handed you to me one year ago, even though I didn't quite understand it yet, and it's been my great pleasure to watch you grow.

And you are growing, fast and furious. This month, you discovered that books are good for reading, and not just chewing on. Your favorites are Where's Spot and Pat the Bunny, but really, anything with pictures and bright colors is just fine with you. I've started reading to you every night before I put you to sleep, and you sit on the carpet, legs spread, and listen with rapt attention.

You love to stand up, and you are getting so steady on your feet. You mastered pulling yourself up on everything from the bathtub ledge to the gate that we had to put up to keep you away from the stairs, and you'll take some steps if we hold onto your hands or if you balance yourself on your walking toy. I really love watching you figure out this new little slice of independence, and I'm pretty sure that you'll be toddling around in no time.

You are finding your voice too. Aside from "da da," which you figured out awhile ago, your first word, strangely, was "wow" followed closely by "uh oh," and, just yesterday, "see ya." I'm still holding out for "mama" though. Just humor me and get to it soon, ok?

Sometimes I just step back and watch you as you go about your business, still amazed a year later that you're here, and that you're mine. Amazed that the six pound baby I met for the first time twelve months ago is a smart, strong, curious little boy. Amazed that I had a hand in making you that way. And then you notice me watching you and you look up and grin and my heart grows wide because for all of the tough stuff and the exhaustion and the worry and the details, motherhood is miraculous, full stop, and these are the moments that remind me. That I have been given this gift - to raise you and to watch you grow - fills me with a gratitude so huge that I sometimes feel like I can reach out and touch it with my hands.

I spent a lot of time over the past year wondering when I would start to feel like myself again until I realized that the answer was, I wouldn't. Because you changed me the day you were born and you keep changing me, every day, in ways I see and in ways I haven't even begun to figure out yet. Motherhood, with its sharp edges and slippery angles, cracked me wide open and then filled me back up again. I'm not the same person I was a year ago, but I think that having you, raising you, loving you, has made me a better person. A little more open, a little kinder, a little more patient, more confident and comfortable with who I am and who I want to raise you to be.

One year ago today you came into my life, and over the past twelve months, you have made it shine.

Happy first birthday, my sweet, sweet Will.

With love as big as the sky,


Monday, June 6, 2016

Dear Will - Eleven Months Old

Dear Will,

You are 11 months old and my god little man, I can hardly believe it. It feels like two minutes ago that I was dressing you in the tiny newborn sized alligator sleeper that I bought for your ride home from the hospital and wondering if there was a size smaller than newborn because your not-even-six pound body was swimming in it. That alligator sleeper is about four sizes too small now and packed away in a memory box that lives on the top shelf of your closet, and a couple of days ago I started picking out stuff for your first birthday party that we're having in about a month.

Your first birthday party. How did that sneak up on us so fast? In between my excitement over themes and the outfit you'll wear and the big cake I'm baking for you to smash is the deep longing I feel to slow time long enough to make memories of these sweet summer days when you're not really an infant anymore but not quite a toddler yet either.

Because these days are my favorite ones so far. You are getting so big, and it seems like every day you discover something new. You are happy and curious and love to learn how things work. You are pretty fearless too, which gives your daddy and me some scary moments, like when you make a run for the steps faster than we can catch you, but secretly, I love this part of you and hope that it never goes away. This is the tough part about being a parent, I'm learning. Striking the balance between making sure you're safe and giving you the freedom to explore your world. I think this will always be hard because part of me just wants to want to hold you close and keep you small forever and ever.

Last weekend we went to visit Aunt Susy, Uncle David, Grammy Reet, and your cousins. You were a tiny bit hesitant at first with all of the new people, but you got over that fast and were soon chatting up a storm, devouring the cheese curls that Aunt Susy got for you, playing with everyone, and smiling and laughing away. From my perch on the couch I watched you and I was so proud of you. You were open and thrilled to be there, in a brand new place, in the center of attention, with so many people who love you to pieces.

For some reason I can't quite grasp, this weekend was a big turning point for you. It seems impossible that you would grow up so much in just four days, but that is exactly what happened. Over four days filled with family, food, and fun you came alive. It was like you had been growing up slowly over the past eleven months, and then it happened all at once and it was jarring and fascinating all at the same time.

It seems impossible that I would forget anything about your first year, and yet there are already parts of it that have started to blur around the edges. But there are also parts of this past year that stand out in my mind, memories that are in complete focus and full color, and I already know that this past weekend will be one of those.You aren't going to remember it but I will, and so one day I'll tell you about how we went to Maryland for Memorial Day the month before you turned one and you started to say "mama," and swam in a big pool for the first time and learned to clap at exactly the right time when Grandma sang "If You're Happy and You Know It." I'll tell you about how you stayed up past your bedtime to eat grilled cheese and french fries in a restaurant and then wouldn't go to sleep and how you really got to know your great-grandma whose husband's name is now yours. I'll tell you about how you laughed when you played with Poppy's mustache and decided that everyone's reading glasses were more fun to play with than any of the toys I brought for you.

I'll tell you about how, at 11 months old, you were silly and smiley and full of fun. How you kept me on my toes and brightened up my life. How every day, you make a mom out of me.

You are such a joy, my sweet Will. Just keep on being you.

With love as big as the sky,