Stella turned one last week and it’s still a little weird when I stop and realize that Wes and I are parents to a one year old when, no joke, wasn’t she just this:
She started out in the 85th percentile, at 8 pounds 4.4 ounces, 21.5 inches but when I took her for her wellness exam she’d dropped to the 20th percentile at 19.4 pounds and 29 inches. Most days she still looks very much like a baby to me. But then I’ll dress her in shorts and shirt and she’ll bring her shoes to me to put on and suddenly she’s a toddler and I’m slack-jawed at how quickly it all happens.
Lately she’s been turning anything with a strap into a purse- grocery bags, journals with straps on them, and buckets. She likes to sling them over her arm and make a loop around the living room and kitchen. She hasn’t quite gotten to putting things in (though she’ll take them out if I try to put whatever else she’s holding in there. No thanks, she’d rather hold that tube of Burt’s, thank you very much. When she first started making this loop through the main floor, I would follow her to make sure she didn’t fall or head straight for Tsunami’s dishes, and when she started getting more control of her body I would run to the other side and surprise her, forcing her to follow me instead of playing in the dog’s water and food. Now, though, I can match her squeals or tongue clicks and she gets so excited that she’ll just walk all the way around until she sees me.
She likes to find things to sit on that are just her size, which basically means the dog door or a shape bucket (which is also used as a purse). If it’s at butt level, she’ll sit down on it. My parents made her an adirondack chair in her size and I cannot wait to see her face when she sees it. I have a feeling she’ll be pulling it all over the place and sitting down.
She likes to blow raspberries. A friend told me to try blowing raspberries in her mouth when she goes in for a kiss and now it’s one of her favorite things, to come up to me open mouthed and wait for a raspberry. She’s getting to the point where, if something’s funny once, it’s funny a million times and I know that at some point I’ll get annoyed at having to do the same thing over and over again but right now I’m still in awe at how she’s learning what she does and doesn’t like. Her smile still catches me off guard and makes me laugh and if blowing raspberries will make her smile then I will do that all day.
She wants to talk so badly and will jibber jabber all day. She walks up to people, puts her hand on their knee and starts spouting nonsense, complete with hand movements for emphasis. She’s incredibly animated during these conversations and I always wonder what she’s trying to say. She seems happy enough when you make a few responses and smile.
She can walk on her own, but still loves a helping hand. During the day she tends to walk around by herself, but as soon as Dad gets home she’ll reach for his hand and lead him around, lap after lap. Wes asked if this is what we do all day and I told him that I rarely gave her my hand because I know she can do it herself (out of the house, though, when I want her to hold my hand while walking around she refuses it, happy to explore uncharted territory). He only gets a few hours with her each day, though, so he’s happy to tour the kitchen and living room with him.
She’s still so friendly. She’s got enough smiles and waves to give to everyone. She’s learned to blow kisses and give high fives and if you let her, she’ll snuggle up to you. It makes it easy to have guests or go places because we know she’ll be happy to meet new people or see old faces.
And her friendliness has changed my attitude. I used to let small things ruin my day but I don’t anymore. Or at least, I don’t let them take a hold of me like the did before. Stella is so happy all the time (unless she’s hungry or tired, but we’ve got our schedule pretty well timed) and she makes me want to be a better person. She makes me want to be happier and healthier and nicer. I know there’s a lot of bad stuff out there and that life isn’t always going to be so easy for her, but I want to be a strong role model for her. This past year of being her mom has seen a lot of growth for both of us and I couldn’t be happier about it or more excited for the future.
Before I had a child, I never thought I’d be a stay at home mom. I always thought that I would need a break from being a mom to be Someone at My Job. But I don’t. I’m happier in my role as a mom than I ever was in anything else. The hours are longer and there’s less drinking than at my first adult job, but the rewards are better. Stella’s smile and laugh are better than any bonus. And even on the worst days I still get to spend my day snuggling this child.