Well, it’s official. We’re getting into that period of time where you will have been outside of my body longer than in it. That period of time called the rest of your life. You have grown up so much already that every day I can’t help but think about the man you will ultimately become. I have no idea who that man will be, but if he’s as amazing as the nine-month-old that I hold in my arms and rock to sleep each night, we have nothing to worry about.
You are curious. Crawling everywhere, especially to the places that maybe you shouldn’t go. The hallway where there are always several pairs of dirty shoes to eat. The bathroom where you long to splash around the water you’ve only briefly glimpsed in the toilet bowl. The messy, messy office. You go for the closed doors. You climb over every obstacle in your path. It’s only a matter of time before you figure out how to move large objects out of your way. Then we’ll really be in trouble.
You have been cruising the furniture for weeks. I can’t even remember when you started pulling up on everything because it seems like you’ve been doing that since before you even started crawling. But that’s probably not true. And your crawling? You are fast. And you just love it. The last couple weeks, before diaper changes, naps and bedtime, we’ve been playing a little game where I start slowly crawling after you down the hall to your bedroom. I tell you, “I’m gonna get you,” in that sing-song voice that adults so often use with people your age. And we peek, and I come up on you a little faster, then slower. You crawl away, then sit to look and smile, and I end up basically herding you into your room where we either do the diaper or start the sleep routine. It’s so fun.
And speaking of sleep. I’ve been reading about this thing called a nine-month sleep regression. Now, it’s not like you were sleeping like the dead before you hit this so-called regression, but there have been many nights over the last couple months that I didn’t know how much more I could take. But with your brain and body all trying to figure out how to work these new skills of yours, a long and deep night’s sleep just wasn’t going to happen. Knowing that it happens to a lot of babies right around this time actually calmed me down a little bit, made us realize that this, too, would pass. And wouldn’t you know it, last night AND the night before, all three of us slept for five and a half hours straight. Now, I’m not complaining, but the next thing we must work on is one more hour in the morning because 6:00 am? Doesn’t work for Mommy.
You love going out to places, and I’m working on getting us out of the house more often. You love our play group, though you are far more interested in the other babies’ toys and car seats than the babies themselves. They sure love you, though. And even though they’re not always the most gentle, you rarely cry. You just keep doing what you’re doing, and if one of the girls steals the toy right out of your hand, you just move onto the next thing like it was your idea all along.
Your current favorite toys include the telephone, the remote control, a rounded plastic massage thing, and an empty oatmeal canister. You enjoy things that make noise. Rattles, cups and hard things to bang together or against the furniture. We yell into glasses, into the oatmeal canister. We hit things with a wooden spoon.
You know your name now. You definitely know it. Because most of the time, when we say, “Michael,” you turn your head like, “Hi, how are you?” But sometimes, you get that selective hearing loss thing, like when you’re focusing on making a break for it into one of the forbidden zones. Kids and men are known for that exact type of hearing loss. You think that if you don’t “hear” me call your name that means that I don’t see you doing something naughty. You think that if you don’t “hear” me, I can’t ask you to do something you don’t want to do. This will go on for years. Possibly the rest of your life.
You eat everything. We share a muffin every morning before you get your own breakfast. You will eagerly taste anything on my plate if I offer it to you, and if I don’t offer it, let’s just say you aren’t happy. You nod your head vigorously during mealtimes, as if to say, “Yes, this is the most delicious bite I’ve taken,” but you also will shake your head from side to side like a “no,” but a teasing kind of “no.” It doesn’t seem to mean that you are done with that particular dish, just that you want to see where the spoon will go if your head doesn’t stay still.
Just a few short months ago, there was a certain darkness around me. It’s not that I wasn’t happy or totally in love with you, just that life was hard and it was a big responsibility to be myself, the wife and the mom all the time and all at once. Bigger than I thought it would be. More difficult. But you know what? I can read over my sad writing from that time, and I can remember that I felt off in some way, but here in the now of our relationship, of our family, even though things are far from easy, there is so much light I couldn’t describe that old darkness to you anymore even if I tried. I am learning everything right there on the floor with you. I am so grateful for these moments we have together, for these days and hours. For your big toothless smiles, your laughs, your silly faces, your enthusiasm. I don’t know how we got so lucky to have you in our family, I know that’s one thing that I reflect on every time I write one of these letters to you, but it still totally blows my mind every day.
See you in the morning.