You turned 20 months old a few days ago, and since then we have driven 700 miles round-trip and attended your (Great)Grandma Lucille's 90th birthday party, spent your first ever night in a hotel and watched approximately six hours of Elmo DVDs. You were amazing on the trip, literally could not have been better, and it was a lot of fun to be able to take you with us. Your father and I had been dreading the trip a bit because we were worried about how you would respond. It is fair to say that you surprised the hell out of us. I think we both remember a little too well what a really difficult child you were for your first nine months or so and forget that you are now a stunningly happy, good-natured, even tempered person. I will try hard to remember that in the future.
Mia, I admit that it is getting harder and harder for me to write these letters to you every month. Not because I am any less in awe of you, not because I spend a second less marveling at the sheer amazingness of you, and not because I no longer feel that your every move should be documented for the joy and edification of posterity. No, the problem is that you are no longer an undefined lump of person where every new move or sound was a stunning accomplishment. Instead you are a person with a definite personality and seemingly limitless skills and abilities and each new thing these days just seems to make you more yourself, rather than seeming to make you something new.
And yet, there is always so much new that I can hardly decide what to say, what you may want to hear about years down the line. You are a very physical toddler. This month you achieved actual running, rather than your usual rapid stumble, and I have at times had to put on some real speed to keep up with you. You love to jump, although your little feet have yet to leave the ground. You like to climb ladders and swing and go down slides, all by yourself, of course. This month you left the idea of anybody helping you to do anything firmly in the dust. Nearly everything you do is accompanied by a forceful "Mia!," meaning "I'll do it myself, thank you very much." Those times when you want something you cannot do alone and come to me to ask for help, I can see on your face how much it pains you to do so.
You added a lot of words this month, so many that I can only roughly guess that you have 40 or so spoken words and somewhere around 100 signs. You've started trying to say words that you hear once or twice instead of having to be actively taught, which has lead to grape and cat and Boo (the cat) and Luke (the dog) and, to your father's great delight, iPod, among many others. You have also learned the concept of not. You will point to a hat and say hat, and then point to a potato and say hat while solemnly shaking your head. Hat, and not a hat. We spend as much time these days defining what things are not as we do defining what they are.
You like to tell stories, albeit simple ones, about what happened to you. Today at the playground you told me about how yesterday at the playground we saw the moon and a bug. If I tell you in the afternoon what to show or tell Dada when he gets home, you nearly always remember to do it. You like to play pretend games, like pretending to get snacks from these odd tube things at the playground and then feeding them to anyone who happens to be around. You are currently obsessed with boots, sheep, and armpits.
We have, at great long last, solved our sleep problems, I think for good. I never wanted to be a co-sleeper, not for any reason, just because it didn't seem like my thing. And so, I have spent months fighting the co-sleeping, feeling like a failure for every night that you did not finish in your crib. But I realized something this month - I realized that I like sleeping with you and you like sleeping with us and there is not a thing in the world wrong with that. Most nights now, you wake up five to seven hours after we put you to bed in your crib and I go and get you and bring you back to bed where you go straight back to sleep until a reasonable hour of the morning. We are all finally getting real sleep, it is working for us, and I feel great about it. I'm sorry for all those months that I resisted this for no reason that I can describe, but that is what you get for being the first-born. Some nights lately, you have even forgotten to call for mama and spent the entire night in your crib. I am happy on those nights, but I also miss you waking me up with kisses in the morning.
Mia Bean, being your mama is the greatest thing I have ever done, and I deeply hope that you will feel the same way about being my daughter.