by Ashley Weeks Cart
ourtland, darling girl,
You are now a year and a half old. Teetering on the edge of babyhood and toddlerdom. There are moments when you are such a little girl. Using words (yes, words! Cheese happens to be your favorite. That’s my girl! We’ll take a plate of nachos over sugary treats any day). Pulling out the chairs at the kitchen table, climbing atop and proudly sitting like the rest of us. Putting on your winter coat by mimicking your big sister’s “flip over the head” trick. Feeding the dogs. Putting your laundry in the hamper. Brushing your teeth. Perching on a stool to wash your hands. Dancing to music. Helping unload the dishwasher. Cheesing it up for the camera. Coloring, whether at the kid’s table in the playroom or all over the sides of the tub with the bath crayons. Reading books, pointing joyously at different characters and people that you recognize or understand. And announcing, proudly, when you soil yourself (I POOPED!) while grabbing violently at your crotch. Oh toddlers. So much fun. So very adorable. And oh so very fickle and unpredictable.
And then there are the moments when you are still my sweet baby. At night, as you wrap your blanket around your shoulders and nestle into my arms, insisting on being rocked and soothed before being placed in your crib. After naps, when you’re flushed and rosy-cheeked and still groggy with sleep and slump into my shoulders to ease yourself back into the day. When you fall or are startled and your face melts into tears of distress and you reach desperately upward for me or daddy. When you’re wrapped in your towel post-bath and I’m consumed by the air of baby powder and lotion and the soft touch of your skin. In the wee hours of the morning when you cry out in the dark and your only source of comfort is sandwiched between your parents’ embrace.
While you will always be my baby, I know that these precious baby days are numbered. You are growing so fast. Literally, as we measured you last week and you are taller than your sister (who is also off the charts for height) was when she was 22 months old. Just this afternoon, you were lounging across my chest, clutching my phone between your palms and joyously bouncing it from side to side in rhythm with Will.i.am’s Sesame Street video (which I wrote about in your sister’s 18 month birthday letter as well). I was transported back to those days with your sister, slammed with nostalgia and a yearning for her little brown-haired bob and baby profile. And when I glanced into the kitchen, there she was, long-blonde ponytail down her back brushing the strings of her Peter Rabbit apron, chopping vegetables to help your father prepare dinner while discussing why Saturn was her favorite planet in the Solar System (because of the rings, duh). And in a flash, I know that will be you. A little person with articulate thoughts and opinions and coordination. So I’m committing that profile to memory. The way your hair curls and waves at its tips, and your nose scrunches and eyes squint when you’re truly happy, and your cheeks flush that cherry shade of red, and the top of your head fits just so into the crook of my neck and the way you carry an unencumbered, fearless energy about you. And while the other attributes may fade, I hope that last one never does.
Happy 18 months, baby girl.