Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Letter to My Daughter: Seven Months Old

Dear daughter,

Today you are seven months old. It’s mind-boggling to me that you are now closer to your first birthday than to the day you were born; I know time keeps marching on, but I’m constantly struck with how quickly you’re growing, especially as I see close friends welcome babies. I see their newborn pictures and know you were at that stage not too long ago, but I see you now and you are so vibrant and interactive.

You rarely spit up now, which is a welcome change from the days of constantly carrying a burp cloth around; I feared you were getting attached to those things, and while they’d be easy to have duplicates of, they sure aren’t as pretty as other blankets you’ve been given!

We introduced you to rice cereal a month ago. The first week was interesting – you didn’t know why we were trying to put something in your mouth, so it was amusing to witness us try to get you to sample it. Dad would try to get you to smile, and I’d slip the spoon in. You’d get this confused look on your face as you sampled food. Now you know how to open your mouth and slurp off the spoon, but your tongue pushes just as much food back out as down your throat. I know this reflex decreases with age, so we’ll just keep at it. Your indifference to food now will change before long. However, I’m not surprised at your apathy, as you are not orally fixated; unless you’re teething, nothing goes in your mouth.

You are so attentive to the world around you, watching everything and everyone raptly. I think you’re starting to wave – we’ve noticed you lifting an arm up around new people and flexing your fingers. You're now in your convertible carseat, and you will keep a keen eye out the windows, taking in the world. When we're in public, you might grip a toy, but it has none of your interest; instead, you watch the waitress and patrons at the restaurant, or the shoppers and merchandise in the stores.

You love to grip things, and you're adept at passing them from one hand to another, picking them up from the ground, and not letting go for anything! Your paternal grandparents came out for a visit, and Grandma was quite impressed at how well you held things. You're starting to show interest in my water bottles and Daddy's glasses of tea, which makes me think we should introduce you to a sippy cup soon.

Daddy loves to read the paper in the morning, and anymore he's taken to "sharing" a section of it with you; you're a fan of grabbing paper and we're amused at how it looks like you're reading. We ordered some takeout Chinese, and you got ahold of the menu as if you were trying to make your selections known.

This past month also marked your first plane trip. Your daddy had a conference in the Twin Cities, and since we used to live there, I tagged along to introduce you to old friends. We couldn't have asked for a better companion. I felt like Super Mom after the first flight! We woke you up just before 6 AM to transfer you to the car. You were interested in everything around you and tried to flirt with anyone who made eye contact. Once we boarded, we fed you during takeoff, you played a little, and then you fell asleep in the Snugli with no trouble and no noise. Teething hit you full force while we were away, though, making for some early mornings, and you weren't as happy during the days as we're used to (still few to no tears, but you made this angsty noise as a soundtrack to your playing). However, you fared well on our return flights - we were supposed to have a direct flight, but that one was diverted into Detroit after our airport shut down to attend to a small plane crash (the pilot of the small plane was extracted and hospitalized after a strong crosswind blew the airplane off the runway upon landing). You were pretty talkative on this one - your mouth was hurting - but I think Daddy and I were the only ones who noticed, as everyone else was grinning at you throughout and commenting afterwards on how great a traveler you were. And once we were able to finally get back home on that final flight, you fell asleep during the taxi and didn't wake up until we landed.

Another big milestone: your first tooth is here! It's above your gums, although it has a bit more popping out to do before it's done. This has meant your sleeping has been interrupted again, but you seem to be over the pain of this tooth and in a reprieve until the next one comes, meaning you've been sleeping in until 6 AM.

You are so great at entertaining yourself. As long as you can see us, you don't care what we're doing or if you're being held. You happily grab at toys, look closely at them, manipulate them, then trade them for something else nearby. I'm surprised you're already so contented at solitary play, but it reminded me - after the nursery ladies at church commented on it as well - that I was once told by a friend of my parents that she used to work in the nursery when I was pretty young, maybe 3 years old or so. She once set me up in front of an easel with some paints, and all the other children tired of the same activity quickly, but that was all I did the whole time, happily lost in my paints until my parents collected me. This stood out to her enough that she still remembered this about me many years later when I encountered her. I hope we share the trait of being easily amused so I can spend hours staring at anthills with you, tracing the paths of the scurrying ants. Or tracking the moon's rise through the sky as twilight transitions to night. There's a lot of beauty that can be missed when we rush, and I'd like to experience these wonders again with you. Already I'm caught up in seeing things again through your eyes. I think that's one of the chief joys of parenthood - recapturing little bits of our childhood as we witness our child encounter so many things for the first time.

I love your spontaneous laughs. I admit that when you laugh suddenly in response to something that amuses you, I feel as if I could cry. And I don't just mean a solitary tear leaking out of my eye; I mean a good, hearty sob. If I had to explain it, I think it's because it shows how alive you are, how joyful, and it's captured and shared in that moment. Not only that, but that as your mother, I get to play some role in this (and that, at least in that little moment, we haven't completely messed up in raising you). There are so many things that you're going to face down the road, and I know my heart will break as you encounter sadness and hurt and betrayal. But for now, those things aren't even in your memory, so as the wind whipped through your hair one gorgeous afternoon, as it tickled your face and tossed the dead leaves in the driveway into an impromptu dance, you couldn't help but laugh outright. It erupted from you, and I got to witness it. Each time a huge gust came, so did your hearty enjoyment. Yes, darling, keep that joy. Don't forget there are marvelous things all around, just waiting to be noticed. Winter is long, but there is a spring that comes and makes all things new again.

Much love,


Dr. aWoW said...

I love these letters. I have just penned my first one! I can't believe she's old enough to eat solids already.

Dr Garima Shivhare Bansal said...

hey Hi, my daughter is seven months old too and this letter is like..... AMAZING !!! Really loved it. Motherhood MUBARAQ (mubaraq means conratulation in urdu).