Today you are 15 months old! And while overall you still seem very much my little baby, you are starting to give me more and more glimpses of the toddler you are quickly morphing into.
First things first: you are officially walking! Your first true steps were in mid October and it took a little over a month to really find your balance and get comfortable on two legs. But earlier this week I went out of town for work and when I got back, it seemed like you had taken huge strides (pun intended) in a mere two days. Last night I watched you get up from the floor without anything to pull yourself up on for the first time that I’d seen. You then proceeded to toddle through my study and into the kitchen. You are walking at least as much or more than you are crawling, so there’s no going back!
You continue to grow like a weed and have quite the belly happening these days. Some current favorite foods are blueberries, eggs, bread and noodles, and the other night I think you ate more of the chicken tortilla rice casserole I made than Emma did. You’re also drinking reasonably well from a sippy cup after months of resistance, and last week when we went to Corpus Christi for Thanksgiving, we officially ended all bottles. Yaaaay! (Now if you would just stop throwing your plate and cup on the floor, repeatedly, that would be great.)
Also on the list of things you love are 1) Daddy and 2) books. It’s not uncommon for you to show some separation anxiety when we’re in new situations, even with people like Momo or Uncle Alex if you haven’t seen them in a while. You’re happy enough to stick with me, but I think you might be even happier when you’re with Daddy. Your eyes light up when he gets home from work and you’ve come close to literally jumping out of my arms to get to him. And when you combine your love for Daddy with your love for books — something he can definitely appreciate as your fellow bibliophile — it’s pretty magical. Seeing you climb into his lap with a board book clutched in your fist makes me smile every single time.
You also love your big sister, and no one can get you to laugh quite as hysterically as Emma. As you’ve gotten bigger, you’ve both become more interested in engaging with each other. It can be a challenge to let you play together while also policing the situation to prevent inadvertent biting (you) and unfair toy-taking (her) but it’s also just really fun to see you interact. I’ve noticed you trying to emulate her in so many ways, from wanting to eat with a fork to picking up her crayons and trying to draw. And even though I know I’ll be refereeing disagreements for years to come, I look forward to seeing your relationship continue to grow.
I write these letters for you, Charlotte, but I suppose you could argue that they’re also for me. It’s a way to document what’s going on in your life at this moment, but it’s also a way for me to work through what’s going on with me as a mother. So here’s the part where I say that along with all the good in the last three months, they’ve also felt pretty rough for me. You’ve sprouted at least 5 new teeth. You’ve battled several rounds of illness including a couple rounds of truly miserable stomach issues. The daycare has transitioned you to one nap each day and you’re still not really adjusted to that schedule. Your teachers tell me that you are happy and smiley throughout the day, but I only get to see you in the evenings, when you often fall apart as soon as we walk out the daycare door.
I have been frustrated by your frequent crankiness, and annoyed that I can’t seem to “fix” or “solve” it with either a literal or figurative wave of my hand. But as I looked through all my snapshots from this fall to pick a few for this letter, I saw how many of them were happy occasions. You don’t cry all the time — of course you don’t! And somehow I manage to forget that not only are you 15 months old…but you are ONLY 15 months old. You can’t tell me what’s bothering you. You can’t ask for a snack if you’re hungry or put yourself down for a nap if you’re tired.
And so I am trying very hard to remember that you are little, and to work on my patience. If you are happy and calm while in my arms and sad and screaming the moment I put you down…well, can I really be annoyed by the fact that my daughter wants me? In this phase of our lives, maybe I just need to hold you as much as I can.
Charlotte, you remind me on a daily basis that I don’t know everything about parenting yet. That I am still learning how to be a good mom. Some days I think: this is terrible! Shouldn’t I have things figured out by now? But other days I think it’s wonderful. I am not the same person at 38 that I was at 18, or 25, or even 34. And you are not the same kid you were at 3 months, or 6 months, or even a mere season ago. How lucky we are to have already spent 15 months growing and changing and learning together! How lucky we are to have many, many months ahead.