As you turn nine months old, I am consistently astonished by the newness of all you do. Yes, I still have to tell you not to chew my flip-flops every single day, but now when I say no, you are aware of exactly my meaning and you get a devilish glint in your eye and continue unabashed.
You shocked your father and me when you pulled yourself up to stand a few weeks ago. I was surprised when you learned so quickly how to wave goodbye. Now, your sweet and sloppy kisses amaze me and your limited verbal vocabulary is pretty impressive, too. You know noses, and mouths, and eyes, and clapping is your favorite. You get so excited when there are other babies nearby that you scream in delight, clap, and promptly steal their binkies. You put every thing in your mouth, the strangest of which I don't even want to document because it makes me want to throw up.
I know that by the end of this month, you will be walking. This can't be. You were just born, right?
I was holding you yesterday, when you first woke from a nap and you were still snuggly and needy, and I treasured you. Sometimes, in between the late night feedings and your desire to scream all your demands, I forget how damned precious you are and how unbelievably fast this is going.
Even in my womb, when an ultrasound confirmed that you were female, I knew some of your future. Mean girls will make you feel insecure about your ears or your forehead or your thighs or some other ridiculous thing. You will be obsessed with some boy, the way he expounds about D.H. Lawrence or the way he worships Jesus (hopefully), his inimitable blue eyes, the back of his neck. You will pour your heart out in a glitter notebook, convinced that you are the only one that ever felt exactly the way you do. You will reach out for friends and you will push back on me. And, it will be my job to love you and let you do these things as you become a woman.
And, women have to be strong, love.
I don't know why I'm so contemplative about this. I don't know why this is making me cry right now. Sometimes life isn't about whether you have matching hairbows and socks, but it's about whether you know how to stand up, how to put one foot in front of the other, similar to what you're already learning now.
I want to protect you from the mean girls, from the boy with the blue eyes who may break your heart. But, I can't. All I can do is teach you how to withstand these things, how to fall gracefully, and how to get back up.
Dearest Daughter, I love you immeasurably, and I'm so unprepared to really mother you. My prayer is for both of us, as time screams past us.