“How old is she?” the woman smiles and waves at Rhi.
I stop and do the math. Nine months didn’t seem so old. Ten months still felt like a baby.
But the undeniable fact that Rhiannon will be 11 months old on Thursday leaves me a little sad. I have begun to plan her first birthday party (by plan I mean I’ve noticed that her birthday is a Saturday and said “we should do something”). I watch her standing while only holding on with one hand, and clearly considering letting go, and I have to admit it–she’s still my baby but she is moving towards toddlerhood.
On one hand, I feel incredibly sad. Rhiannon is my last baby, and knowing that makes each day that goes by is day further away from the indescribable sweetness of holding a newborn.
On the other, I feel relief. Each day that passes is one day closer to a life without strollers or diapers. A life without children sleeping in my bedroom. A life where I sleep the entire night.
Now that she has discovered the joys of table food, we are down to five or fewer nursing sessions per day, and most of those center around sleep. Which again–sadness, because the nursing relationship has been a really wonderful experience for me. I was really heartbroken that I never got to try with Ellie (it just didn’t work out with all the medical drama, and pumping didn’t work out long term once her food allergies/sensitivities were diagnosed–thankfully they’ve since resolved). I’m so happy to have had this opportunity, but I can see the clock on the wall. Which also has a positive side–it will be nice to plan outfits without worrying how nursing-friendly they might or might not be (and yes, that may be shallow, but it’s real).
I view her growth as this constant push me-pull you of sadness and pride (although it certainly leans far more towards pride than sadness). In truth it’s not even sadness as much as it’s wistfulness. I know for certain that she is my last baby. Our family feels complete, and the costs (material and non) and risks (especially the health risks) involved in having a third child just don’t make sense.
The most exciting part of Rhiannon’s growth, though, is watching her personality emerge. Newborns, for all that they smell wonderful and are so sweet to cuddle, do not have much in the way of personality beyond NEED–CONSTANT NEED. In the early months we constantly compared her to Ellie, because Ellie was our only experience with a child of that age.
Rhiannon is a very different child from Ellie.
Ever since Ellie’s personality began to emerge, she has always seemed to be racing against a clock that only she can see. She’s in a hurry to do it all, and to do it now. She gets angry that she can’t read on her own yet (beyond her sight words and simple consonant vowel consonant words). She wants to do the bar routines of Gabby Douglas (never mind that Gabby is 13 years older than her). She wants to dance en pointe like the big ballerinas. She wants to write stories. She wants to cook me a meal.
the “talking” starts around 45 seconds in (shot on camera phone)
Rhiannon is far happier to take things at her pace. She is more interested in talking than walking. She says ‘mama,’ ‘dada,’ ‘el’ or ‘la’ for Ellie, and ‘heeeeey’ when she waves hi (a product of us stretching out the word ‘hey’ when we say hi to her). She’s standing, but happier to crawl when she wants to get somewhere. She’s still very happy to cuddle with us. She is more likely to be observant than to dive in.
When I look in the mirror, my reflection isn’t all that different from a few years ago. But when I look at my daughters, particularly Rhiannon, I can feel time rushing past me.