Dear Samuel Woodford,
You came into our lives one year ago on this day — with dark blue eyes, soft blonde hair, a sweet button nose, and a strong grip — perfect in every possible way. I was in love from the moment I held you in my arms. Your coos and grunts and babbles, your gummy grins and giggles, and your snuggles have brought us infinite joy these past twelve months. And I can’t imagine our world without you.
It’s really amazing what a difference a year makes. From the early days of dissecting and quieting your cries with shhhhing and swaddling to now seeing and satisfying your signs for more — more cheerios and blueberries, more binky, more play in the dirt, more bath, more crackers from the snack cupboard. (Your sign for “more” is technically the sign for “milk,” but it works. You also use it for “help.”) And if we don’t immediately satisfy your request? It’s followed by whines and sometimes screams. Yes, we’re still working on that tiny temper of yours.
But I love that you can now communicate with us. You pull on the straps of your high chair when you’re hungry. You get your ball when we ask you to. You point the remote at the television to turn it on and close the gate after crawling up the stairs. You pull a book off the shelf and crawl into our lap for storytime. You say “ba ba ba” when we start the bath. You are a little sponge, soaking up new information daily.
And we have learned as much from you this past year as you have learned from us. You arrived eight days later than we expected you, and we have been following your lead ever since. Who cares what the books and the doctors and the experts say. You are you — with your own personality and desires and comforts.
I still rock you to sleep at night, despite the belief that it will lead to poor sleep habits. And you still use a pacifier — or three. We often find you in the morning with one in your mouth and one in each hand. You have tasted peanut butter, chocolate, berries, citrus, and shellfish — all before your first birthday. You’ve been crawling for almost five months, but are not yet walking without assistance.
Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned since you were born is to just relax and enjoy the ride. Because every phase will pass. Yes, there have been sleepless nights. And runny noses and bumps and bruises. There have been long car rides with you whaling in the back seat and moments when you have tested my patience. Motherhood is both exhausting and energizing. It is the most challenging and the most rewarding title I’ve ever held.
I sometimes struggle to remember how you ever fit into those itty bitty newborn clothes that are now packed in boxes in the basement. And how it felt to lay you on my chest with your head tucked under my chin and your baby feet resting in my hands.
Every day you grow a little bit bigger, a little more confident, and a whole lot more entertaining.
You imitate our actions — from rolling the ball to stacking cups to “dusting” the furniture to “burping.” You give high fives, wave with your whole arm, and blow kisses. You point to Elmo on your placemat and pay attention when I point to squirrels, leaves, and trucks on our evening walks. You sign “all done” and “more/help.” You believe you are strong enough to lift a curtain rod and coordinated enough to carry a large lamp shade — though both tricks are accompanied by lots of grunting. And you love to fling the wet washcloth in the bathtub — soaking the walls and both Mommy and Daddy.
You’re able to stand on your own and can bend over to pick up things off the floor. And you can take about four steps between Mommy and Daddy or from one piece of furniture to another. And, oh boy, can you fly around the house with your push toy or giraffe bike. You whip around the corners and easily maneuver obstacles. I know you will walk when you’re ready, but I really do think it will be soon.
You still love to take laundry basket rides and play in the dirt, mulch, and leaves. And the bathroom cabinet is one of your new favorite places. You remove every bottle of lotion and nail polish, then climb inside. You have also recently started to “hide” under Daddy’s desk. And when we “find” you there, you have the biggest smile on your face. We have learned that if we can’t hear you babbling and giggling, then you’re probably up to no good — attempting to pull cords or open cupboard doors or remove Mommy’s snow globe collection from the shelf. Though you never actually do the thing you know you’re not supposed to do before we catch you with a devilish grin on your face.
You got your top two teeth this month, which meant lots of extra snuggles on the couch with Mommy. And we’re pretty certain you’re cutting two more — you have been drooling through at least four bibs per day and gnawing on your pacifiers and teething rings. You also caught your second cold just one week before your first birthday — both Mommy and Daddy caught it, too. You were congested and coughing, and it just broke my heart. I was very concerned that you would be sick for your big birthday party, but you were an absolute angel and loved every minute of the attention.
You are still eating like a champ. In fact, we have started to call you our little food monster. You now know where Mommy keeps the snacks, and we often find you pulling out puree pouches and crackers and begging us to open them for you. You went through a brief broccoli strike (and threw every piece on the floor), but you’re back to eating everything we put onto your plate. Hummus on whole wheat toast, string cheese, and turkey meatballs are current favorites.
Also, you have officially weaned yourself from the breast. It was completely natural and exactly how I hoped we would close that very important chapter. We dropped down to just a nighttime feeding about one week ago, and just four days later you seemed perfectly content without it. I feared you would no longer want to snuggle, but I was very wrong. If anything, you are more cuddly now than before.
We’ll know your exact height and weight tomorrow at your one-year check-up, but I suspect you are just about 20 pounds. And you are officially tall enough to reach the kitchen table, which means we have to be careful what we set on top of it. You are wearing size 4 diapers and mostly 12-18 month clothing, though you can still fit into 9-12 month pants. Oh, and we moved you into a big boy car seat this month. Poppy calls it the sports car edition, and I think you love it.
Daddy started school this month, and he is gone two — sometimes three — nights per week. We miss him so much! But while he is working hard we go for extra long walks and eat ice cream. Not a bad deal for us, right?
Sam, this past year with you has been the best of our lives. It flew by so fast. And yet it seems as if you have been with us forever. Thank you for making me a mother and a better person. I love seeing the world through your eyes and anticipate every milestone yet to come.
You are the best, bud.
Love your Mommy.