My baby girl turns one this weekend. She is beautiful and amazing and I love to watch her proud smile as she walks around, trying desperately to keep up with her big brother.
But I am not yet ready to let her charge head-long into toddlerhood. Not that I really have any say in the matter.
With my first baby, it was not this way. The transition to motherhood overwhelmed me in unexpected ways -- I was much more afraid of life with a newborn than I thought I would be. When his first birthday finally arrived, I was so happy. After a year of insane sleeplessness, it seemed like a milestone that might finally mean we were past some of the exhaustion. Each new stage with him was like some kind of miracle -- as if he were the first baby to tackle the world -- and I couldn't wait to see what magical thing he would do next.
I was reminded of this feeling reading a friend's blog last month as her son approached his first birthday. She was right when she wrote, "Babies are hard. And often not fun. They are needy and demanding. They are exhausting." They are all of those things and then some -- and watching them grow up is such a thrill.
The second time around, I was just as tired, but also much more relaxed, less afraid, more able to enjoy her newness. I thought maybe it would last longer, that I'd remember it better this time. Instead, time seems to pass even faster, and I'm so busy trying to keep up with her that I take fewer pictures, post fewer moments online, write less often in her baby book.
Now, with every new step, Pippi is literally and metaphorically moving away from me. She doesn't want to be carried, pushes away when I pick her up. She wants to walk everywhere now, all the time.
And so I will cheer for her as she grows, while also cherishing every little baby moment that I have left... the bedtime nursing, the mostly toothless grins, the wobbly toes-out walk, and yes even the 4 a.m. cuddles. She's my baby and I'm holding onto her as long as she'll let me.