Today you turned two months old. I considered skipping this letter because the past few weeks have been rough, and I feared that I might not be able to remember anything beyond your crying and fussing. You’ve decided that napping is a waste of your precious time. So the past few weeks, I have watched the clock tick past 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., with you crying in my arms. You usually drift off between 5 and 6 p.m., right before your dad gets home from work so that he probably wonders why I complain so much about his sweet daughter.
On the bright side, you have discovered that the world holds more than just milk and diapers. And perhaps the most fabulous thing the world contains is ceiling fans. Nothing can tear your eyes away from a fan, even when it’s not spinning, though you prefer the moving kind. You’re also fascinated with the ground beneath you. Sometimes I’ll lay on the couch with you resting on my chest, and you’ll lift your head as high as you can, which is only a couple inches, and try to look at my shirt. Your eyes get really wide and then cross, and then you lose control and your head crashes down.
One morning, while I had you on the floor for tummy time, you were doing your usual head lifting but getting farther off the ground than normal. I called your dad into the room to take some pictures, and as he walked toward you with the camera, you lifted your left leg and rolled onto your back. Mobility! You probably won’t get far by rolling, but I’m sure there’s more to come.
Your Dad and I have been talking a lot about the sort of childhood and the sort of life we wish for you. Now that you’re here, I think more about how rich the world is, how many amazing things a person can see and do. As a sort of introduction to all this, we’ve played a lot of different music for you. This isn’t some effort to create a baby genius or make sure you get into Harvard. In fact, you definitely prefer disco to classical, so I’ve spent a lot of time spinning you around the house to “Dancing Queen” and “Stayin’ Alive.” The joy you seem to find in this gives me hope that you might share my love of dance someday.
With all the crying that has gone on, I sometimes wonder how we’ve survived the past few weeks. And I think the answer lies in your smile. It starts as a sly little half-smile, and if we smile back, your cheeks plump up and you give us a giant, gum-revealing grin. And so this time with you has reminded me of life back in the Midwest. Life there can be downright dreary. The summers are humid and stormy, and the winters are interminable, with gray clouds that seem to hover just above the ground. But then in March or April, a magical day will arrive when blue skies finally overcome the clouds. The sun kisses your cheeks, and the air that had seemed so metallically sterile smells fresh and sweet. Eleanor, your smile is my spring day.