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Dear Zella: Month Thirteen

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Dear Zella,

A week after your birthday, we got on a plane and went to Florida to see your Poppa Pete and his family. From our hotel room, it was just a few steps out to the pool or the beach, and you adored it. You loved the beach, with its buckets full of sand to dump and dig through and its waves to bounce in. But your true love was the pool, because it combines three of your very favorite things: climbing, water, and hugs.

You are an insane and fearless climber. At the pool, this meant eagle-eyed monitoring lest you climb over the edge fully clothed and heedless of whether someone was going to catch you. You adored climbing up and down the pool stairs while swinging from the railing. You climb out of restaurant high chairs, onto high couches, and into any box you can find.

You are certainly more of a water baby than Ezra ever was. Ezra is all about the outside of the pool, the circling of it, the throwing of things in and out of it. You love to take luxurious twirls around in the water, splashing and kicking and even hugging us tight and resting your head on our shoulders in total relaxation.

On this trip, and throughout your thirteenth month, your love of a good hug has frequently crossed over into a serious case of the clings. If I am in sight, I must also be in reach, or tragic tears will ensue. Tragic tears are also on tap in cases of non-mama things you want to hold but cannot reach (my phone, my ice water, a red pen). It is amazing to watch your whole body tense up as you try to express what it is you are reaching for, to see the tears begin to well up, hear the anguished cries, and then see the tension drain in an instant once you figure out how to get the object of your desire. Sometimes you even audibly sigh.

Speaking of the object of your desire: someone clearly showed you the secret memo about how after babies turn one their moms sometimes try to nurse them a little less. In response, you have stepped up your game. You have been known to pull my shirt completely down in public places, to make huge lunging dives from my shoulder to my breast when I’m not paying attention, and to bite my nose hard to bring attention to the boob-free state of your hungry mouth.

This month has been a complicated one for you with sleeping. You are almost, but not quite, sleeping completely through the night. You still have a fondness for a 4am snack, and you sometimes like to get up for the day at 5:30. On those early mornings, you and I cuddle on the couch, by which I mean I doze while you climb around on, me, bashing my face with remote controls and pulling on my shirt so I’ll nurse you more. And the skipped naps. Oh, don’t get me started about those. I forgot about this utterly evil developmental period where if you sleep for 15 minutes in the car it will short-circuit an entire three hour nap. Ugh.

The day after we came home from Florida, I turned around to find you standing in the middle of the floor. You giggled, sat down, and then showed me your new trick, getting into a downward facing dog position and then working your hands up until you’re standing. You’ve walked across the room a few times, too. But you’re not quite walking yet. Crawling is still so much more efficient. In the last few days, I’ve seen you standing with a manic gleam in your eye a few times, though, and I know you’re evaluating, practicing, and plotting for your next big leap towards full-scale foot-based locomotion.

In the meantime, you have discovered that one does not need to be able to walk in order to rule the playground. You climb up stairs and ladders with ease, and have no fear as you navigate the slides. This has led to more than a few face-first misadventures, but you bounce back quickly. As spring dawns, with an amazing week ahead of warm days and post-time change light afternoons, I am getting so excited at the prospect of playground adventures with you.

Love and an endless supply of hugs,

Mama

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