It’s probably more traditional to write a letter to your baby when they reach one year old. But you’re a quirky girl, so I’ll quirk that particular convention for you. In any case, this elevenish months milestone feels like the biggest one we’ve approached yet, what with me starting work and you going to your childminder, both of us in our Big Girl clothes.
You’re doing so much and changing so much: cruising around the furniture, pulling the books off the shelves, grabbing the spoon to feed yourself… And it’s exciting to watch you pick up new skills. But whilst many parents (parents who I find hard to bear) measure their babies up against developmental milestones and average ages, to proclaim them “advanced” (when really, surely, it’s a case of there being a relatively small window of a few months in which babies tend to learn to do things, and of course there’s variation? Anyway), I find to my surprise that this isn’t my thing. Baby girl, don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t know if you’re advanced, and I don’t really care.
No, I’m not concerned with the When. But I love the How. I do know when you first smiled, because the day is etched into my heart, but I’m more concerned with how you’ve barely stopped smiling since- when you’re not exercising your developing diva ‘tude, that is. Obviously I notice when you learn a new way to move around, but when you learned to dance about matters far less than how you love to dance about at any opportunity.
And I notice too when you learn a new word, of course, but I’m more enchanted by which words you say and how you say them. “Hi” and “wow” are your favourites, and as my sister said, no two words could better sum up your personality. For you, “hi” and “wow” are not mere words, they are a way of life. And how this neurotic mother has thanked her lucky stars for this as she entrusts you to the care of somebody else, as you’ve pretty much approached this new adventure by saying “hi there new people, wow this is going to be fun!”.
You’re such a very, very jolly baby. I’m not a person naturally prone to spontenaeous outbursts of joy, but you send me, honest you do. I can’t even describe everything you’ve taught me, and the warm yellow furry ball of happiness that lives at the top of my chest and rises into my throat when I think of you, and now I’m going to cry.
Every couple of weeks you throw in a wakeful night or two (or ten) which make me think “oh GOD how will we ever manage two babies?”. But that’s about the extent of the hardship. Most of the time your sheer deliciousness makes me squeal inside “oh GOD when can we have another?!”. But for now I’m enjoying you, my Leila, so so much. My goblin child, my 5am raspberry-blower, my avocado artist, my increasingly big girl.
ps One day, when you are a teenager, I am going to wake you up at 5.30am, bite your face to say ‘good morning’, and sytematically pull all the books from the shelf behind your bed, making sure several of them land on your head. And then look really pleased about it.