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,