Dear Brooklynn, A year ago, we had a one-month old living with us. Your mother was still getting up in the middle of the night, every night, to care for said child. And in between going back to work, having some family visit, and basically figuring out how to be parents, we both agreed that sometimes it felt like we were just watching some one else’s baby. And feeding someone else’s baby. And bathing someone else’s baby.
Of course we loved that baby like nothing else in our lives, even on the day’s when it felt as if someone really should come and take the child from us, if just for one day, to let us catch our breath. Life rarely comes with do-overs, and, when there wasn’t a reset button to be found, we forged ahead.
Brooklynn, we are overjoyed that we did. A year ago, we were happy if you would look at us with uncrossed eyes and maybe, just for one split second, acknowledge our presence. Now, when I come home from work, I am typically greeted with a shriek, a smile, and the sound of tiny feet toddling over to me to be picked up. Crawling is so for babies.
We do not have a baby in the house anymore. Since you have turned one, I don’t think you’ve crawled more than 15 feet in total. Everywhere is walking: around the house, in the backyard, up and down the driveway, and out in to the street.
A very common phrase in the house has become, “Where’s Brooklynn?”, often followed by the askee glancing around the room in an attempt to imagine where you might have wandered off to now. You have an uncanny ability to meander away when we’d like you to stay close and to suddenly become clingy when all we really want is for you to show some independence.
You are very interested in other people from a distance and then prefer to hide behind a leg or look away when they get close. I’m sure you’ll get over it. I think I started becoming more comfortable around strangers when I was about 22, so you might have a little ways to go.
Our life has settled into a bit of a routine over these past few weeks that we’ve been home, and if you happen to be looking at the dates of how often I’ve been writing, you’ll notice that routine rarely involves actually posting anything. We are in the middle of summer, and that means it’s time to be outside. You go on walks with Mom in the mornings, and in the evenings we head out into the yard to explore.
You prefer the stone path to walking on grass. You would very much like it if we would let you climb into the gardens. You enjoy digging bark and stones out of the landscaping, and you like to get up a little speed on the downward slope of the driveway. We worry that you will stumble and fall and, this past weekend, you took your first major tumble of your young life. You stepped a little too close the edge of the deck steps, and when your foot found only air, a look of panic spread across your face and you rolled down the steps head first.
Your mother likes to give me a hard time about my slow reaction time, but I did manage to get to you before just your head met the flagstone of the walkway. (She maintains that she would have caught you at least a step earlier.) But it's ok. You survived, and you also went to be right after your bath that night with no bottle. And you haven't had a nighttime bottle since.
This is the last week that you get to spend with Mom at home since she goes back to work next week; I imagine that you will be happy to get out of the house and see some other kids on a regular basis, but you will also miss spending time with your favorite person in the world. There's no one who comforts tears or makes you smile quite like your mother. You certainly give her far more kisses than you give me, but maybe that's because I don't shave quite as often as I should.
We know you won't stop growing and learning new things every day, but we might pause you right here if we could, just for a little while.