by Ashley Weeks Cart
You now call yourself that. Sunny. And you call me “mommy” and James “daddy.” And it’s just so grown up, it breaks my heart. What happened to mama and dada? Where did my baby go?
I know, you’re now 20 months old. You are in the home stretch to two and I have no idea where the time went. I started diving into all of the infant clothes, and burp cloths, and drool bibs we have stored away that will resurface with the arrival of your baby sibling, and I was struck by how quickly it all goes. In the moment, you think that that gurgling, drooling, blobby stage will last forever. Sometimes you wonder how you’ll ever survive. And yet, it is a blip. A very short lived moment in the grand scheme of a life. Please, remind me of that when I am crazed with sleep deprivation and don’t think I can make it another day with your baby brother or sister. Infancy is exhausting and overwhelming, but it’s here and gone with the blink of an eye, and I’ve found myself scrolling back to my photo archives in the Spring of 2009, rewatching videos, and getting totally overcome with nostalgia and the weepies.
Stupid pregnancy hormones.
Meanwhile, you keep me on my toes. I can’t wallow in the past with your ever-constant growth. Daddy was away for less than 24 hours and was blown away by what a different child you seemed in just a day’s time. In that period, you’d developed a love of pigs, and demanded constantly to watch Miss Piggy on YouTube (as naturally, she was the first famous pig I introduced you to when you began to enthusiastically tote your two pig stuffed animals around the house). You learned to do a ridiculous impression of a pig’s oink. And you grasped the meaning of the number two, as you have “ONE! TWO PIGS!” Now you strut around the house proudly showing us when there are TWO of something. “Ursa! Hanna! TWO DOGS!”
Who knows what tomorrow will bring.
You can pick out letters in books and on signs, and I totally was not prepared to have you already mastering the alphabet. We’ll be reading “The Napping House” (your current most favorite book) and you’ll stop me mid-sentence to point out an E! or a G! or a N! and clap with excitement. You’ve memorized the easier board books that we’ve been reading to you since you were really little. I’ll flip to a page and you’ll start flapping your arms like a butterfly, or pretending to splash in the tub, or shout “EAT! Nom nom nom!” to imitate whatever is happening on that page. We’ll have you reading Dickens in no time.
Most notably, this month you have mastered the art of manipulation. We totally saw it coming, but it doesn’t make it any less shocking when I find myself caught in your adorable, precious, manipulative web. When Daddy was away, I went to check on you in your crib before I went to bed, and you had totally soaked through your diaper. I couldn’t let you sleep in a pool of your own urine, so I tried to ever-so-quietly pull you from your crib and change your diaper, and dripping pants, without waking you.
Yeah, fat chance.
As soon as your soggy bum hit the breeze, your eyes shot open and your first words were “Mommy? Snuggle?”
I cannot resist the snuggle, no I cannot. I am powerless against it.
I finished cleaning you up, and thought, what’s the harm in her sleeping with me tonight since James is away?
Have I mentioned the stupid pregnancy hormones?
The excitement of being in Mommy and Daddy’s room, and the blinking light of the fire alarm on the ceiling, and the dogs, especially Hanna who throws herself around the bedroom all night, were like a double shot of espresso. You enthusiastically babbled about the light of the alarm. Then would hear Hanna and start shouting “HANNA! URSA! PUPPIES!” I kept encouraging you to close your eyes, and you’d slit them slightly and then say “No” in the most matter-of-fact (IN YOUR DREAMS!) tone. When you started demanding “Sunny cookies. Mommy cookies” I knew this whole Mommy snuggle bit was a giant failure and headed back for your crib. As soon as you hit the mattress you began shouting, “NO! MOMMY SNUGGLE! PWEASE! MOMMY! PWEASE! TATO MOMMY! SNUGGLE PWEASE!”
Tato being your word for Thank You. You were thanking me in advance for pulling you from your crib and snuggling. We battled for 3 hours because my mommy heart could not listen to you shrieking for me with such pleading and manners! (please and thank you, y’all!) But every time we’d snuggle, it undoubtedly turned into a wide-awake party fest. Eventually, your toddler body’s need for sleep wore you down, but yikes. I need to grow some cajones to resist your pleadings, or just hope that Daddy is around to manage the situation.
When Daddy came home, he and I lay in bed talking about all of your new developments, just how dang cute you are, how we are totally and completely and stupidly in love with you and we cannot imagine a world without you.
Do you think it’s possible she needs us as much as we need her? Because, I do not know how to exist in this world without her. She’s my lifeline.
It’s crazy to think that despite all of my independence, and all of your dependence, I am the one who needs you in every possible way. Sure, you need me to change your diaper. And feed you. And clothe you. And bathe you.
But I need you to breath. Not to inhale and exhale, but to breath and experience the world around me. When you were born, you took control of all the things that were once involuntary and gave them new meaning.
I have said it in so many different ways in each of these 20 monthly letters, but Sunny, thank you for changing my life.
Photo: Courtesy of Kate Miller Photography