Dear Baby Jack,
I can't believe you're eleven months old today. It seems like just yesterday when I brought you home from the hospital. You were so tiny, the tiniest baby I'd ever held. And you were mine. I remember looking at your Papa when we were leaving the hospital and telling him, "I can't believe they're letting US take him home. We don't know what they hell we're doing!" Quickly, though, we did figure out how to be your parents. You didn't come with an instruction manual, but we wrote our very own with time, practice, and patience on your part. You must've been thinking, "Who the hell are these people and why do they keep snuggling me?" You sure didn't mind the snuggling and neither did we. Even now, we cuddle like there's no tomorrow and you've grown used to it.
In another month, you'll be turning one year old. I can't believe I'm your Mother. I can't believe you came out of my body. I can't believe you haven't taken me back for a full refund. I think you're happy with me, though. You have quite a personality and you can get into your moods, but so can the rest of us. You have added a dimension to my life that didn't exist before you came around. I love being your Mama. I love having a son.
Your eleven months old today. Even writing that makes my eyes well up with tears. You're your own little person, an extension of me and your Papa. You're sweet, sassy, active and you make me run around after you, making sure you don't bite the cords of the lamps (which you love to do). You like to play with electrical outlets; thankfully, they have childproof plugs in them that even I can't get off. You like to step on the dog's head and body and try to stand on her. Java's a great dog because she just sleeps through it all.
You're very strong, physically. You push your little Radio Flyer wagon all over the house, walking on tippy toes. You're getting better at using it, though. You seem to have much more control and you're starting to walk with your feet flat when you push it. You like to go into my bathroom and play with the shampoo and moisturizer bottles. You stand there and take them off of the table one by one, throwing them on the floor until the table is empty. You like to pull books off of bookshelves, too. When I'm in the kitchen, you like to play with ladles, measuring spoons, wooden spoons, cookie sheets, and whisks. You quickly figured out that the ladle is meant to be dipped into the dog's water bowl (thank you, Food Network, for teaching him how to use a ladle) and the water is meant to be worn by you. You like to swim in Java's water bowl often, too.
You have learned so many things in such a short amount of time. You love to speak your language, Jackanese (the term coined by Grandma and Uncle). You spew out polysyllabic sounds loudly to participate in the conversations going on around you. Everyone just stops to listen to what you have to say, smiling at the signs of your emerging language development. You use emphasis when you speak. We know when you're angry, frustrated, delighted, or feeling mischievous. You're full of a lot of mischief, you know. You and I have a new game we play; it's called "Hide and Seek" or "I'm Going to Get You, You Better Run." I hide, you find me, I chase you, you crawl like mad to get away, I grab you and kiss you, you giggle and pee. I love that game.
You also have your highchair games, too. In fact, you learned a new one just yesterday; How to Feed the Dog From Your Highchair, where you drop food to her on purpose and watch her eat it up. You also play the following: I'm Going to Spit This All Over You; I'm Going to Scream Until You Get Me Outta Here; Hurry Up and Give Me More; Let's See How Far the Food Will Go When It's Thrown; and You Can't Make Me. We enjoy all of these games because they are part of your discovery of the world around you. I'm the lucky Mama that gets to be a part of that.
You eat table foods like no one's business. You love toast with seedless jelly, toast lightly spread with peanut butter (about once a week), grilled cheese sandwiches, spaghetti (but only when you're in the mood for it), any kind of yogurt, Grandma's homemade meatballs, potatoes, green beans, carrots, cheese and crackers, scrambled eggs. You name it. You're willing to try anything. When you like something, you raise your eyebrows and let out a high pitched hum. When you don't like something, you just don't keep it in your mouth. It's a pleasure watching you try new things. It's an even greater pleasure to see the resulting diapers that show me you were okay with each new food item. Heh...
Socially, you still have some stranger anxiety, but that will pass soon enough. You're adored by all who know you. You frequently put on "shows" where you bust out all the tricks you know to everyone around you. It's like you're saying, "Hey! Look what I can do now!" You understand praise when you see everyone clapping. You smile so often it makes me all mushy inside. How did I get so lucky to have such a wonderful son like you?
I'm going to enjoy every moment of your babyhood because it doesn't last long. I just want you to know that, from Day One, you've been the love of my life, the man of my dreams. And I am going to be the best Mama I can be to you for the rest of your precious life. Nothing in the world can duplicate the feelings I have when I'm with you. You have grown so much in eleven months, and so have I. You're the peanut butter and I am the jelly. We make a great team.
P.S. Thank you for giving me the title of "Mama." I wouldn't have it if it weren't for you. Hearing you say it is music to my ears.