Dear Natalie: 18 Months

n-18months-webDear Natalie,

I’m not going to write about the snow, because it’s obvious from this photo that there’s plenty of it. It also only fell a few days before the writing of this letter, so it really isn’t fair to focus on that, not when I have so much more to say about YOU, my girl.

This has been a challenging month for all of us. Between your 15-month and 18-month checkup, the amount of teeth in your mouth has more than doubled. I don’t even know how many there are anymore and don’t try very hard to check, lest you accidentally bite me and then laugh and laugh at your own special brand of slapstick comedy.

All that activity in your mouth clearly hurts, and you don’t know how to deal with it. That’s not your fault. I’m quite sure if I grew a half dozen teeth in the span of as many weeks, I’d be crying all the time, too. And that’s how you deal with it. Lots of crying and fussing and clinging, but only for a minute and then NO I WILL PUSH YOU AWAY RIGHT NOW MOM.

Your frustration is expressed in toys flung across the room, boneless melting to the floor, and plates of food pushed over the edge of your highchair. In books slapped out of our hands at bedtime because we failed to read your mind, diaper changes that take five times as long because you keep flipping flipping flipping over to your belly, and decibels we didn’t know a human child could even reach, all because we turned on Peg + Cat instead of Sesame Street.

And sometimes, when it’s clear you are DONE and you JUST CAN’T EVEN anymore, you simply stand in the middle of the room and cry.

That’s the most heartbreaking thing of all.

When that happens I gather you in my arms, asking if I can give you a hug. You shake your head vigorously while reaching for me at the same time, a perfect metaphor of toddlerhood.

I need to assert myself but I also need you so much, Mom. 

We’re in the beginning of this dance, the push and pull of boundaries and independence, and right now we’re stepping all over each other’s feet.

At times it feels effortless as we glide along together. Other times we stumble and crash and fall into each other. We’re all learning the steps at the same time and using muscles we’ve never used before. But we’re partners for life, you and I (at least, as long as you’re living under my roof!).

These current challenges will modulate to new ones; some will be reprised in a familiar chorus time and time again. Hopefully we’ll be quicker to find our footing the next time around.

But my arms are always open to you, whether you want me to hold you and we’ll sway gently together, or if you want to do your crazy little hopping dance all by yourself across the floor from me.

We got the beat, baby girl.

Love always,

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