A Painted House

Dear James: Month Twelve

Posted on: January 5, 2011

Note:  Readers from my former blog will be familiar with the monthly letters I write to my babies for the first two years of their lives.   As each new letter will be posted here I will be moving over all previous letters to my archives for continuity.  Thanks for your patience as I work on all this administrative stuff!

Original post date: April 16, 2009

Dear James,

Today you turn twelve months old.  Happy birthday, baby boy!  Exactly one year ago at this time Mama was as big as a house, so large that I couldn’t put on my own socks, shaving my legs required that I hold my breath for what was probably an unadvisable length of time, and everywhere I went strangers would take note of my belly and scoot to the side a bit lest my water break all over their new shoes.  Sorry for that whole deprivation-of-oxygen thing during the shaving.

When I was growing up your grandparents could always be counted on to make a big deal out of birthdays, and we intend to do the same for you.  You’ll find that new pony in the backyard, eating my daffodils.  You do have several non-equestrian gifts to open from your Dad and I, things that when we were out shopping as family and I wandered an aisle or two away, magically made it into our cart.  When I came back and looked inquiringly at the small pile of brightly-colored toys that all have buttons and make noise, your Dad informed me, “James wants these for his birthday. He told me.”  Quite a feat for someone whose longest string of syllables, at least that I’ve heard, was ‘Gah Bah Ya’.  I suppose that could be loosely translated to, “Please, Dad, may I have the light-up jukebox that sings songs in a really high-pitched tone and is sure to slowly drive Mama batty when I push the same button over and over and over again?”

Your birthday party is actually going to be held on Saturday, at which point your gaggle of grandparents will gather around your chair, cameras at the ready, and watch you systematically smear butter cream frosting into every pore.  I just pray that you don’t actually get much into your mouth, considering your continued distaste for anything with more texture than paste, or we may have a whole different kind of precious moment to capture on film.  Part of me wonders if you’ll be put-off by the dozen cameras pointed at your face or if you’ll just accept it as a side effect of celebrity life.

The Spring weather has finally arrived just in time for your special day, and we’ve been taking every advantage of the chance to be outside.  You love to be out in the sunshine and trips to the park to swing are my go-to cure for crankiness.  You desperately want to investigate everything within sight, explore this new side of your world.  Yesterday I sat you on a blanket in the back yard while I hung laundry on the line and within two minutes you had pushed aside the toys I brought out for you, scooted to the edge of the blanket, and started eating blades of grass.  I briefly considered taking them away from you but then figured that at least this way you’re getting a decent quantity of leafy greens.

This month has brought out your sense of humor.  You think it’s hilarious to fake-sneeze, laugh uproariously when your Dad wears your clothes on his head, and peek-a-boo has become a favorite game.  You laugh easily and often, a source of unending joy in our house. A couple of nights ago I was feeding you before bed and moved you upright, onto my shoulder.  You rocked for a minute with your head on my shoulder and then pulled back to look at my face.  What a sweet moment, I thought, as you leaned in and placed your forehead against mine.  And then you burped in my face and giggled.  Your uncles would be proud. 

You’ve started to imitate our sounds, wave bye-bye, clap your hands, and jump up and down anytime we say the word ‘bounce’.  We introduced milk to you a couple of weeks ago, and you readily drink it out of a straw cup, even more so when we treat you and add a bit of chocolate syrup.  You cruise around the furniture at lightening speed, can pluck the grocery list out of my hands and swallow half of it before I even have time to react, take cautious steps across the room when you summon the courage, and spin around and around on your bum, on the hardwood floor like a baby break dancer. All of these new tricks can be summarized when we ask you “How big is James?” and you raise your hands to the sky.  Sooooo big! 

I’ll admit that I got a little teary when I put you to bed last night for the last time as a baby, before you turn one and overnight, magically transform into a toddler.  I know that when you wake up you’ll look and act just like my wiggly, chattery, funny-face little boy of yesterday, but there’s this irrational fear inside that I’ll go in and find a gangly kid who only wants to eat pizza rolls, needs braces and gets (ok fine, understandably) embarrassed when I eat his face.  If the speed at which this year has passed is any indication of how quickly you will grow up, my fear is well-founded. 

I count it an immeasurable blessing to have witnessed each and every day of your first year of life, James. I struggle to remember our life before your arrival, wonder what we ever did without your presence in our family.  We celebrate you today, so thankful that God chose you to be our firstborn.  Happy birthday, sweet pea. 

Love, Mama


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