dear wren (11 mo)
Yesterday you turned 11 months old. This means that you’re a month shy from turning one, a milestone that I’m not quite ready for you to reach. I don’t know why it gives me such a pang. Is it selfish that I want to keep you small forever?
The weather in England has been particularly lovely lately. It reminds me of this time last year when my work contract ended and we moved house and I spent weeks packing and unpacking and painting bookshelves, standing at the top of ladders with my massive belly, everyone telling me that I ought to be relaxing but I couldn’t, you see, because I was so hell-bent on creating a cozy home for your arrival. Also, I knew that once you came into this world, not much else would get done. Case in point, the stairs remain unpainted, the bathroom floor too. And lots of other bits and bobs around the house remind me of just how busy this past year has been. Recently I took on the task of making a coat rack out of a few cast iron hooks and one of the old floorboards that I kept when the house was gutted. Drilling in the presence of a curious and crawling baby is no easy feat. Once you got over your fear of the drill, you were fascinated by it and wanted to get your hands on it AT ANY COST. Needless to say, I’m glad I got as much done as I did before you were born.
So much these days remind me of those first few months. The light in the house, for instance. The way it comes in dappled on the landing wall and how the shadows dance whenever the wind blows through the sycamore tree outside our window. The wisteria and lilacs are already fading. It seems they were just beginning to blossom yesterday and already they are gone. The cherry petals are now the colour of buttered popcorn, gathered in the creases between the sidewalks and the streets. The elderflower tree at the end of the road is releasing its summery scent. The roses are starting to bloom, just in time for June, your birth month. And mine too.
You’ve recently traded in your favourite word “cat” for “dog”, or something that kind of sounds like dog. You basically point and say “dat” at everything you see. Perhaps you are saying “that” or maybe you are saying a million things that sound like dat. The other day you said “dada” just as your dad was coming up the stairs and I thought you’d finally made the connection but then you proceeded to call everything and everyone dada, even me. I said “mama”, you replied “dada”. It’s an exercise in futility.
A few days ago, you stood on your own for a full five seconds. And then did the same the very next day. And every day since. You are getting very strong and confident on your own two feet but I reckon we have at least another month before you take your first step. That’s fine by me as I fear that you will skip walking and go straight to running. You are, after all, a little canon ball.
Lately, when you nurse, you’ve taken to reaching behind my waist and pinching and twisting my back fat like a lug nut. This is not my favourite thing. And we’ve also reached a point where I can’t carry both you and a bowl of Whole O’s, say, or a jar of peanut butter at the same time. You go fishing and dipping your fingers into EVERYTHING. Glasses of water are your favourite; swishing your hand in and out of the cup and then sucking on your fingertips rocks your world.
You crawled onto the terrace for the very first time last week. You’d never done it before, choosing instead to crawl to the edge of the door and flinging things onto the terrace – spoons, spice jars, shoes. But one rainy morning, there you were. You simply couldn’t resist the puddles and the water gushing out of the rainwater pipe. Before I knew it, the knees of your sleepsuit were drenched in water, your hands up the pipe, your fingers freezing and you were as happy as could be. I tried to snap a photo of you but I keep running out of space on my phone for that very reason – I take waaaaay too many photos and videos of you. Can you blame me?
Your two top lateral incisors sprouted this month so that you now look like an otter whenever you smile or laugh. You also curl your top lip up all the time, presumably because those teeth feel really weird — I call this your Mick Jagger phase. Although it looks like a sign of aggression, I assure everyone that this is your playful face… I think.
On Thursday, I introduced you to watermelon. I stripped you down to your nappy and plonked you on the terrace and presented you with a massive juicy slice. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and messy affair. You went to town, chomping at it with your otter teeth, juice dripping down your chest like a pink waterfall. I think maybe it’s your new favourite food, even more so than peas. And that says a lot — wherever there is a pea in your meal, you find it. You’re like an archeologist, digging for these little green gems with great accuracy and a delicateness that you rarely show for anything us.
I’m sad to say that you’ve outgrown your playmat. Instead, you want us to get down on all fours and chase you around the livingroom. You burst into an infection fit of laughter, curling into a ball like a potato bug protecting its abdomen each time we get close to you. All this tomfoolery does come with a price though. We placed you in the clothes basket the other day thinking “great fun”, until you tumbled out and hit the floor with your face, which resulted in your first proper fat lip (see above). Sorry about that. I’ll tell you one thing though, you’re a tough cookie. You took it like Ali.
You attended your first funeral last week, that of your great-uncle Charlie’s. You were such a ray of light, Wren, bringing hope and happiness to an otherwise sad affair. I think every single person who met you was rather smitten and grateful for the beautiful reminder of the cycle of life. This is what you do for us everyday. You remind us of all that is good and wonderful in this world. So many little joys. Thank you for opening our eyes.
You are so very loved.