Month thirteen

Dear Eleanor,

Today you turned 13 months old. I wasn’t planning to write these letters beyond your first year, but after your birthday, you just kept doing new things. The journalist in me can’t let it all pass without a written record, but I am busy these days chasing you around, so these messages will have to become shorter.

Yes, so your birthday party, The Saddest Birthday Party Ever, as I have come to call it. You awoke feverish and completely lethargic on the day of the party. You refused to be set down for even a moment, so I held you while Dad called all the other parents to tell them not to bring their kids. We still had our adult friends over because someone had to eat all that cake. You slept through most of it, then awoke. But for you, I think the waking was a bit of a nightmare because we brought you downstairs to a bunch of scary, tone-deaf grown-ups who began singing to you. Tears streamed down your face, so we reduced our singing to a whisper. But you forgave us when we gave you the cake. Wow. You and that cake: There was passion.

Your grandparents came to visit this month, and Grandpa taught you several bad things. First off is the pillow fighting. You always want to wrestle with us on the bed now. You crawl over to your changing pad all the time and lay there until I find you. This is your way of asking me to bring out the pillows. “Hey, Mom. I’m on this soft surface now, so this would be a great time to clobber me.”

The second bad habit involves your walking cart. Dad and I got you this cart for your birthday to help you improve your walking. Initially, you were thrilled to push it around the house. Then Grandpa showed you how you could sit in the front while he pushed. And guess what? Getting a ride is a lot better than giving one. You spend about half your day sitting in the front of the cart. Even if I’m not pushing, you sit there and wait like a queen expecting her horses to be hitched to her chariot. And Dad and I are the horses. The horses who can barely stand up straight after pushing you all day.

Every day as your mom is a thrill. Many days now you seem more like a little girl than a baby. And every day, I think I couldn’t possibly love this cautious, stubborn, playful child any more than I do right now. But then the next day, I do.