My baby turned 1 this month. Writing that the first time felt surreal. It took a solid week of watching her skills grow daily by leaps and bounds to come to terms with the fact that I have a toddler and not a baby. Can we just rewind time and I’ll do it over (even the hard parts) and sneak in a few more kisses and a little more laughter? This stage of her life is downright fun and enjoyable with her insatiable need to move her body, her adorable bear-cub walk, the way nothing is too small for her to notice , her joy in peek-a-boo, the way she tries to turn everything into a hat, her still-constant need for me to hold her.
I want to describe my daughter, but there is so much space between words and the uniqueness of her personality and her person is found in those spaces. I can tell you that she is our joy, but that fails to capture laughter that lights up my soul. I can tell you she is energetic, but that will never convey the perpetual motion that is my child. Sometimes she just walks back and forth across the house for the sheer pleasure of it. At 12 months old she has walked a half mile completely on her own before asking to be picked up. She does not sit still. Ever. I am often confused when I see friends post non-blurry photos of their babies at the same age. I want to know if glue was involved. But, if I had to choose one phrase to describe my girl, it would be:
Though she be but little, she is fierce.
I know, I know. It’s become the descriptor of every baby girl since Shakespeare became cool. In particular it is popular among Pinterest nurseries, though I doubt Shakespeare meant it in quite the same flattering fashion we use it now. In my pregnancy hormone driven sentimentality I had about three dozen pieces of artwork with different inspiring sentiments I wanted to plaster my daughter’s nursery walls with. There were so many good and beautiful things I wanted to speak into her life, so much I wanted to imagine that she was. Amazingly I refrained from pretty much all of them, and somehow I have turned that procrastination of never finishing her room’s artwork into a virtue by “waiting to see who she actually is.”
Admittedly, the above quote was one of my favorites, but I have an anti-establishment streak in me that rebels against trends and, for all I knew, my daughter might be born chunky and docile. (That would have been equally as wonderful but an entirely different post.) Turns out, I could have used chalkboard paint on her walls and scratched that line over and over in a thousand phrases of truth – and penance. At last weigh-in my girl was barely above 16 lbs and squeaked right in at 28 inches. I know this because I can now clobber her with the refrigerator door if I’m not paying attention. Thank you, growth spurt. In other words, she’s roughly the size of many 7-month-olds. While she is petite and delicate in her looks, she certainly isn’t in her bearing.
When I say my girl is fierce, I mean that she doesn’t let anybody railroad her. I watched – half disapproving and half delightedly – as she fearlessly told off a 3-year-old for sitting in her personal bubble when she wanted the block pit to herself. She jabbered and flailed her arms until her point got across. If someone does manage to wrestle something out of her iron grip, she will take off after them, regardless of size, and attempt to snatch it back or holler them into submission. This kid is nobody’s doormat.
She is also fiercely independent. When she mastered climbing the stairs at 10 months, I knew it was time to teach her how to get down safely. She ignored me entirely and figured it out herself. Now she slides down at lightening speeds exceeded only by the rate at which she can whip off her socks in the car. The only down side to this independence is the distinct lack of cuddles in this house. But, it only makes them all the sweeter when she does.
Aeryn is fiercely playful, curious, and happy. She spends her days exploring everything, always looking for new textures, shapes, and sounds and focusing intently when she finds some. Absolutely everything is a toy. And in lieu of cuddles, I get plenty of smiles. One of my all-time favorites is that good morning smile I get first thing when I open my eyes to find she is awake -it’s quick and sweet and all for me.
Happy first birthday, my fierce and lovely little girl. I love your size and your spirit equally.