Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Letter to My Daughter: Nine Months Old

Your 9-month picture with Giraffe
Dear daughter,

Today you are nine months old. You are bright-eyed and love to watch the world around you, although I'm continually amused at how you'll suddenly duck your head down and grin bashfully when you're showered with compliments by others. You'll flirt and laugh, and then duck down like you're so coy. Very adorable, but I'm not sure I'm buying your shyness!

Whenever we're around the high-school students, I rarely get to hold you anymore unless it's time to eat or sleep (and even then, it might be a fight to regain possession of you!). This past weekend you and I attended an open house, and you were whisked from my car before I could even finish parking. In the span of an hour, every time I turned around you were with someone else. The hostess had you when she left the backyard, and when she came out of the house five minutes later, it was with another child. I was constantly chasing people around to find out where you were next and who had laid claim to you. Fortunately for them, you aren't yet showing signs of stranger anxiety, so you took it all in stride.

Previously, you only rolled over from tummy to back, but you regularly roll over from back to tummy as well. This was initially accomplished in the crib at naptime if you were fighting sleep. You'd get yourself in the most interesting arrangements as you staved off sleep - diagonally, sideways, against one side. You love to sleep on your stomach or side now, even if we put you on your back to start with.

You now have a regular babysitter. One day a week, while I am at work, one of my high-school girls comes and watches you for a few hours so Daddy can get in some extra writing time on campus. She's someone you've seen regularly from birth, and other than fighting naptime your first day with her, you seem to enjoy this change of pace. Of course, this is only a temporary arrangement, since she goes to college in early August, but we'll enjoy it while it lasts.

This summer has brought about new opportunities for our daily routines. We've hung up the tree swing your paternal grandparents gave you, and we purchased a small pool for you to splash around in. Add in walks in the stroller and sitting on a blanket in the grass, and there's a slew of new activities to engage in when the weather cooperates.

You love both the swing and its straps
You enjoy the baby pool much more than your introduction to a hotel pool. Admittedly, it was a little past your bedtime and the water was a little cooler than you're used to, so we shouldn't have been surprised when you were uncertain and then broke into tears until we removed you.

A little worried about this swimming thing, while showing off your strong legs
There's still no crawling yet (although there was a little "reverse army-crawling" action that took place on our wood floors this morning), but you can migrate around the floor to some degree of success from your seated position. You lunge for things out of reach and thus get closer and can easily turn around. You particularly love the challenge of reaching the diaper bag or your baby shoes (the latter to chew on - eww).

Favorite toys run the gamut. You still love Sophie, but then there are strange attachments you have to other objects that we don't completely understand. There are three "envelopes" - thin, hard plastic pieces from your mailbox toy - that you are enamored with. They don't make noise, they don't bend, but they do boast texture and apparently happen to be the perfect size to grip. Your grandparents also gave you a spoon, plate, and bowl. While trying to distract you from playing with your clean clothes while I was trying to put them away, I gave you those objects, and you still adore playing with them (especially the spoon). They make this delightful banging sound when you slam them against each other, so there's no question as to why you're drawn to them.
"I can sing while drumming!"
The jury is still out on food. You have made no attempts to feed yourself, but we're having more predictable success with spoon-feeding you. You are ambivalent on just about everything, although I'm not sure you really enjoyed the baked potato. But sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, blueberries, asparagus, and a few more I may be forgetting - all have been found acceptable.
Asparagus was pretty popular
You continue to grow. We don't have another appointment for a few more weeks, but you were over 20 pounds and nearly 29 inches at your last checkup. You're solidly in 12-month clothes, but even some of those are getting snug (this is true primarily of pants, due to the extra padding lent to you by your cloth diapers). In fact, your hand-me-down 12-month swimsuit was pretty snug, so we bought a 24-month size for you. I'm shocked to admit that it's not as roomy as I was expecting.
Why settle for one duck when you can hold two? Indeed.
There's a saying that resonates with me: The days are long but the years are short. Along with reminding myself that someday I will miss this, I try to keep this thought in mind. Here we are, already having enjoyed nine months of life with you, and I don't know where the time has gone. Typically, it's been a blessed time filled with new discoveries, cuddles, and kisses. But then there are moments when there are more tears than smiles. Or I really wanted to vacuum during your nap but you needed to be rocked and held. Maybe I had a to-do list that I wanted to accomplish but it was 11 PM before I realized I forgot to empty the litterbox and never got to clean the kitchen or run that errand. When my expectations aren't met, when my house isn't as tidy as I'd hoped or wanted, I just have to remind myself that when you're older I will not regret the sticky countertops or the unmade bed, but I will wish I could take back the time I could have savored the opportunity to snuggle with you when you were feeling clingy but instead grew internally frustrated when I couldn't transition you to the crib although I was hungry for lunch.  When you're running off with friends and enjoying moments with them more than time with your parents, I will wish I hadn't wasted time surreptitiously checking my email or Facebook during a free moment while you played nearby. When you're older, I will have ample opportunity to read, craft, even clean, but these moments with you are all too precious. So I am continually trying to invest in you, read with you, sing with you. It's a continual challenge, but writing this here reminds me of where my priorities should be.
Playing train mechanic with her trusty spoon (and knit chicken)
Darling, thank you for all you have taught me already, and all you will continue to do so. May your dad and I be worthy of you.


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