Time keeps moving faster, kid. They tell you about that when you’re little and it doesn’t make sense, but as you get older, it really does seem to go faster. I can’t believe you’re one month away from being a whole year old.
You are quite possibly the happiest baby I’ve ever been around. Unless you are exceptionally tired or exceptionally hungry, you almost never have a cross moment. You smile when you wake up, when you see a familiar face, when you see a toy you haven’t seen in a while; you have the most magical laugh. When you get excited, you start to sound like Daffy Duck. (If there’s no Daffy Duck on television when you’re old enough to read this, please look online for classics. The classics, by the way, are older than your dad.)
This week, you had your first Thanksgiving. You got to spend time with your cousins Maggie and Mollie from Wisconsin. They just love you to pieces, and you seem to hang on every word they say. They’re trying to teach you all sorts of stuff (some of which you’re just too young for yet, like using crayons), and they play with toys with you. Every time I see you with them, it just fills my heart with joy!
You’ve been trying lots more food and you’re starting to show a few preferences. The biggest food change is that you love “Baby Goldfish” crackers. You’ll sit there in your high chair eating the food we’re giving you, but then you’ll turn your head to look to see if the goldfish crackers are on top of the refrigerator. If they are, you will point at them and say “ess? esh? ess?” (Your ‘s’ sound and your ‘sh’ sound are pretty interchangeable right now.)
You’re standing on your own — you’ve gone nearly a minute without tumbling down and without holding on to anything except a couple plastic cup toys that you tend to hang onto when you want to stand, as if you think you’re find as long as you have something in your hands. You can lower yourself safely to the ground most of the time, too.
You finally have enough hair that wearing a hat in the cold weather can lead to cowlicks, but not enough hair that we can really do anything with it; we can’t even put bows in it yet without full headbands.
My favorite thing that has really developed in the past month is that you hug me for the sake of hugging me. In the past, you’ve rested your head when you’re tired, or if you were crying because you bonked your head on something. But now, sometimes when you’re wide awake, you’ll crawl over to me and pull yourself up on my pants legs until you’re standing, and you’ll hold a hand up to me to tell me you want to be picked up… and when I do, you’ll sometimes rest your head on my chest or shoulder just for a few seconds. (Sometimes you say “awwwww” because you know you’re adorable.)
When you do that, I feel like I’m the best dad in the world, which is what I try to be every single day. (Some days, I’m more successful than other days. You’ll get that when you have a kid.)
I love watching your personality developing. Some mornings you wake up and just entertain yourself for a while, talking and singing in your crib and then pressing a button on your mobile to play some music. On occasion, you’ve done this for nearly half an hour before calling out for us. We let you do it, even though sometimes I just want to rush in there and scoop you up, so that you know that it’s all right to be alone sometimes. You’re having a good time — why should we interrupt?
The other morning, while I was changing you out of your pajamas, you were very definitely singing. The words were all baby gibberish, but you were definitely singing notes of a melody you were making up. Some notes were longer than others, some got more syllables than others, but there was no doubt that it was a song. I started to improvise a song too, just singing a random melody with the words “Sage, Sage is my baby; Sage, Sage is my favorite baby,” and you listened and smiled, and then you sang back to me, and the word “dadda” was crystal clear as the first word, and then again about halfway through.
You are amazing.
Sage, I have some tough advice for you this month. By the time you read this, I’m going to guess that you’ve heard this advice before and so it may be easy to discount it. It’s not the advice itself that’s hard — it’s taking it seriously enough to think about it. But here it is: take nothing for granted. Nothing. In the past several years, I’ve watched some things change that I never believed would change, and I’ve lost some things that I will never have back. Unless some miracle has occurred between the night I write this and the day you read it, you’ll already know that your extended family has some really unfortunate issues. I’m still trying to figure out how I’ll explain those issues to you someday. But as recently as eight years ago, I can remember gathering with most of those same people in one room and singing hymns, as your late great grandmother had requested for her birthday. It’s been only eight years, and I don’t believe that we’ll ever see most of those people together in a single room again. I don’t say this to embarrass anyone, to call anyone out, or anything of the sort (you see, this is a public letter, and some of them may read this and be angry at me for even saying this much publicly).
Ultimately, my point is this: I have wonderful, wonderful memories of that family acting like a family. It may not happen again, which makes the word “heartbreaking” seem like too weak a word. “Soulbreaking,” maybe. So take nothing for granted. Enjoy the good times while you have them, and remember them forever.
Here’s the good part of the advice, though, and the part I may not have said to you in a letter before: if you don’t take things for granted, you get to enjoy them even more. You get to realize, daily, how blessed you are to have what you have. Every day that I get to see your beautiful smile is one more memory that I get to keep, and that I had never expected to be so deeply touching and powerful.
I love you so much, Sage! Your mommy and I both do. Remember to be yourself, because let me tell you, so far you’re doing it and it’s working out great!
The next time I write you a letter like this, you’ll be a year old. Unbelievable!