10 Months / by Christina Rosalie

Dear Bean,You are starting to have a will of your own and it is amazing to watch you attempt to express yourself—your joy, your contentment, your frustration. You’ve started showing both compassion towards others and determination to do things your own way. You love to share now. You also love to go where you are not allowed. You smile wide, wide, wide when we dance, and at night when we lie down together, you sing with me as I lull you to sleep.

This month you’re doing big-kid things like sitting and looking through board books for ten or fifteen minutes all on your own, with quiet interest. You’re eating macaroni and cheese, reaching for each noodle with your perfect pincer grasp, and drinking water from a cup. You sing for milk when you want to nurse, and wave “hi” when we do. Suddenly, your babbling has increased ten-fold. Each day you explore new sounds. And you can point to things you know: spoon, book, your Daddy, the cats. (You love the cats and pester them mercilessly. One day, they’ll expect payback. Remember this.)

I watch you now and swallow hard—your first year is almost finished. Never before has time gone by so quickly for me: months wash by in the span of a giggle. And yet, never before has time gone so slowly: when you’re fighting sleep and I haven’t had enough, those moments stretch out forever, rubbing every nerve, and I can’t wait for them to be over.

So now you’re ten months old and almost walking—balancing recklessly in the middle of the room for brief moments. Today with your little friend Bella, you kept picking up your toys and handing them to her. You smiled at each other in wonder that you are both small people, and were amazingly tolerant of the fact that each of you has about as much muscle control as a stroke victim, and as much eagerness as a Labrador retriever.

Being your mama is everything like I imagined, and nothing like it. I came from a family of women who have made hard choices about the timing of their children: either choosing to have them, or choosing not to, and before you came I struggled with these choices too. Around me my peers were trying to shape the building blocks of their careers, and it was often said in passing: to have a baby would be the end of independence. Before I had you, I believed that. Even during my pregnancy I wondered, worried. I was reluctant to become a mother. I worked up until the last minute, and then, all of a sudden after twenty four hours of labor, you were there and you fit. Perfectly.

I want you to know that after we sigh with relief having put you to bed at the end of a long day, your Daddy and I then spend another ten minutes talking about how amazing, and silly, and wonderful you are. Tonight, for example, you went to bed early because you missed part of both of your naps and were literally falling apart at the seams. After I finally got your little body to unwind, shushing you a hundred times, I tiptoed out and told Daddy what you did to the slice of orange I gave you earlier.

It was too cold, so when you bit into it, it surprised you and you made an awful face and your whole body shuddered. Then you threw it on the floor, and ROARED at it. You kicked it and roared some more. Then you picked it up, and threw it down again, and roared a little more.

You can count on us laughing about the silly and ridiculous things you do for a good long while. But you can also count on us to be proud. So proud. Like when you put the wooden puzzle pieces into the correct slots tonight after Daddy showed you how. Each time you slipped the piece into it’s place, we clapped, and grinned at each other above your head in wonderment and glee. We think you're pretty darn incredible, kiddo.

Love, Mama