It’s been a beautiful year with you. Below, a favorite photo from each month of the first year of your life.
From day one you have been a sweet baby. I claim you are the easiest baby in the world, though I haven’t been around enough babies to know for sure that you can claim your spot in the Guinness Book. I sleep trained you to sleep through the night before five months, and you often take a 3-4 hour nap in the afternoon. If you decide to have children of your own you will understand why parents talk so much about sleep when they want to relate where their baby sits on the ease-of-parenting scale. You may also seem easier to me because you are my second, and I’m getting a little bit better at this parenting thing as the days go by.
I’m finding it difficult to write this without thinking about the ways that you differ from your brother. Growing up I did that to myself, comparing myself to my sister and judging my strengths and weaknesses based on hers. I was the singer, she was the photographer. She was good at math, I was good at public speaking. She was tender and sweet, I was outgoing and passionate. I can see now how I limited myself because I believed that the areas where she excelled where the areas where I would always be sup-bar. As though there was some sort of finite limit on math proficiency in the family. Almost a decade after she started, I bought myself a dSLR and found myself wanting to take pictures of people as a profession. But that was her thing. Could I?
Don’t limit your life with comparisons and doubt. I don’t want you to do that to yourself, and I don’t ever want you to feel like I’m doing it to you either. You may not be a special snowflake, but you are one-of-a-kind with a potential that astounds me. At this age it is easy to imagine that you can do anything.
I predicted that you would be walking by Christmas, but you are taking things at your own pace. You’re walking along the furniture and have taken a few unassisted steps, but otherwise you are cautious and prefer to use the mode of transportation you are familiar with. I want you to progress because it’s going to be easier for me when you aren’t crawling on the dirty ground, but, you do what you need. There is time yet to walk and run and chase the butterflies. Crawling dirties your pants a lot faster, but at least I can keep up with you!
Your favorite person in the world is your brother. When we pick him up from preschool your face lights up and you kick your feet in excitement. He is your first choice in a companion and the source of your greatest frustration. Even though he often makes you cry with his antics and over-enthusiasm, I know there is no face you would rather see.
We cut your hair last week, again. It’s blonde and downy and lagging on the sides while sprouting furiously on the top and back. I joke to your dad that having long hair is a privilege in this family, and I’ll stop keeping yours short when you have shown that you can grow an even mane. I have lots of funny ideas like that. You’ll be rolling your eyes about them soon enough.
When I think about you at this age, there are two memories that stand out to me. The first is from a mundane weekday morning, as you and your brother were getting ready for the day. He brought his blue bunny to you and you gave it a hug. Then you handed the bunny to me, and I gave it a hug, and you handed the bunny to you brother, and he gave it a hug too. Afterward you dragged the bunny across the room (he is almost as big as you are) and fed him your bottle.
The other is from a trip we took on the train together up to San Francisco. On the way there you were frustrated that I wouldn’t let you crawl around on the floor, but easily distracted with attempts at flirting with the guy sitting next to us. I took you to a cafe and had an informal business meeting while you explored and spread your cheerios all over the floor. Afterward we ate our lunch while watching the pigeons. You flapped your arms and said “hoo hoo hoo” whenever a bird came into view (you love all animals). It was a really wonderful day for me because it felt like I could be your mom, and I could be Jenna too. We can approach life like Icarus and Daedalus, strapping on our wings together. I want you to be inspired to dream big dreams because you see me doing the same.
Just don’t fly too close to the sun, okay?