Yesterday the three of us spent the rainy day indoors, watching movies and playing with birthday toys. Nora was wearing her new overalls and was doing a great job entertaining herself. Stacking blocks, laughing at the dogs, babbling about all the important ideas she's been mulling over and adventures she's planning. When family and friends see Nora, they often remark that she's gotten bigger, and yes, of course she's gotten bigger. I think we might worry if she hadn't, but lately the growth spurts seem so much more noticeable. She's bigger in size, but also, she's inching towards kid status. I call her my "baby," because she will always be my baby, but she is becoming more and more of a little person every day.
The changes are gradual but she often startles me with her growing awareness. The other day I caught her looking at a cut on my knee, touching it gently as though she somehow understood I'd hurt myself. She will now point to the particular item she wants to eat when I'm feeding her, acknowledging that, yes Mom, I can see I have pears here on my tray, but I want that yogurt right there. She knows when we are being funny and, even better, she knows when she is being funny. At brunch this weekend, she repeatedly put a menu over her head and then glanced out slyly, before erupting into giggles, playing peek-a-boo with anyone willing to join the game. She waits with suspense during breaks in tickling attacks. She looks up to make sure we know when we are supposed to be chasing her, or that we see her dance moves.
Her personality is now more complex. She is relentlessly friendly. She sometimes judges new people with long, uninterrupted stares before granting a smile. Other times she is immediately drawn to a someone, presenting them with her sippy cup, grinning in their direction long after they've looked away, until she wins and they have resumed interaction. She has gained a stronger sense of affection, clinging to my neck, her head burrowed in my shoulder, as I walk her to bed, and delivering enthusiastic, spastic hugs when she gets excited about the prospect of a new toy, or playing an instrument at our music class.
In addition to an endless stream of baby talk, she can say a few real words and phrases, including "uh-oh," "dogdog" (for "dog," of course) and "duck." I'm pretty sure when she says "wassa" it means "what's that?" and that a often-repeated sound along the lines of "yook" means "look." Listening to her is one of my favorite things to do, whether she's in the carseat, pointing out the window and making nonsensical (to us, anyway) observations about the world, or holding open a book, talking to the characters, to us, to everyone. Books are her best companion at this point and I carry them with us everywhere. She loves to sit with a board book and turn the pages, close the book entirely, then open it again. And so on and so on.
In addition to the literary life, she really, really, REALLY likes Elmo.
I've written a lot on my blog in the past year about how being a mother has affected me...how it has been wonderful and, at times, difficult for me and how our life has changed in so many ways. Nora's changed, too, and so quickly. Having a year's perspective, I find myself bursting with pride. I remember writing after she was born that Nora was amazing. I can now repeat the sentiment, and mean it a million times more than I ever thought possible.
When I told my friend Elizabeth, who has two girls, that I was pregnant, I remember asking her about being a mother. She told me that she didn't want to sound sappy, but that being a mother is wonderful because you have this little baby, and you can't possibly imagine loving them any more than you do, but as they grow up, that's exactly what happens. You love your baby more and more every single day.
One year later, I know exactly what she means.