Ok, I have to admit, when I started writing these 'Dear Aurora' letters, I didn't have a 10.5 month old post in mind. To be honest, they were to be monthly posts throughout your first year of life but that was before you came screaming into the world and took all of mama's free time so here were are. Ten and a half months it is!
These past few months have been so precious to me. While the days, weeks, and months felt so long in the beginning, they're now whizzing by like road signs on the side of the highway. Here comes 8 months...here it comes...whoops, there it goes, growing smaller in the rear view mirror. Nine months, coming, coming, whoops, gone. I don't know if time is speeding up because you're crawling now and our days are like, 208973498 times busier, or because I'll be going back to work soon and I'm trying to savour every single moment (even the moments I find you playing in the dog's water bowl or smearing peanut butter in your hair). Next month you'll be one year old and when people say "I just can't believe it's been a year!" I respond with a wholehearted "I KNOW!" because I really, truly can't believe it either.
Yet, every day, you show me that you're more than ready to enter toddler-hood. I guess I under-estimate your abilities sometimes, because you still surprise me with your mad learning skills. I'll say "Do you want to read a book," and you'll say "book", so clearly that it can't possibly be any other word. You see Daddy's truck pull into the driveway and head for the front hall to greet him, whispering "Dada....dada....dada..." the entire way. I will say, "Rory, that's not yours, give Gus back his bone," and you hold it out for him until he (reluctantly) comes over and retrieves it.
Your relationship with Gus is still pretty one-sided. You adore him, you scream, laugh, and say "Gus Gus!" whenever he comes near you. Gus, on the other hand, is still a pretty big pansy when it comes to you. He spends most of his days avoiding you - lying down, then getting up when he sees you crawling toward him, lying down in a different spot, repeat. In the past couple of days though, I've seen a slight improvement in Gus' attitude toward you. He's been letting you get a little closer, sit near him a little longer, and yesterday he even let you touch him on the head. That was a great moment for mama. Our patience and watchful eye seems to be paying off and although we have a long way to go, for the first time I really believe that you guys will turn out to be the best of friends.
You are still such an easy going and happy baby. This past month, mama and daddy left for a weekend away together and left you with Nona. This was the first time we had ever left you on your own, and you rocked it girl! You and Nona had a great time, although I had no doubt that you would. I used to worry (selfishly, I'll admit) that you didn't really need me, that you would be happy with just about anyone. I now realize what a true gift that is - to be able to leave you, and know that you'll be content while I'm gone.
Next month, I'll go back to work full time. This is something I've been struggling with - the thought of someone else having all of your sweet little moments throughout the day. Again, I realize that this is a selfish worry, and deep down, I know you'll be just fine. I'll be ok too, and once we're in the swing of things I'm sure everything will run like clockwork (delusion or wishful thinking?). On the plus side, you will make some new friends and I will get to speak to adults again on a daily basis!
Aurora, my love, as you learn, you also continue to teach me and your Daddy. As you follow Gus around the house relentlessly, hoping to get just a quick pet, you teach us about patience (Gus also teaches patience too as I can almost see him roll his eyes with every approach). As you explore every nook and cranny around the house, pausing to examine every crumb and tumbleweed of dog hair on the floor, you teach us about the importance of curiosity. You teach us determination as you try (still unsuccessfully) to climb up on the couch, your little leg lifting just a couple of inches off the floor. And, you remind us how important it is to be silly, as your squeals echo through the house during what we've come to call your 'silly time' (just before bedtime, FYI). You've taught your dad and I to appreciate each other, as we find ourselves genuinely thanking each other for the most mundane tasks that seem so big ("Thanks for making dinner!" "Thanks for emptying the dishwasher!" "Thanks for taking out the diaper pail bag!" "Thanks for acting like it's normal when we're both in bed at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night!").
There are lots of kids in the world, Aurora. Our journey is something that many, many people have done before. I'm no different than a million other moms out there, struggling with the reality of going back to work, wondering what the heck I'm going to make for supper tonight, wondering how this Cheerio got tangled in my hair, and just soaking in every adorable minute with my sweet girl.
But, there's only one you, my love. Only one happy, sweet, smiling Aurora Gillian, who has turned Mama and Daddy's world inside out while simultaneously making us the happiest we've ever been. You're truly our little ray of sunshine.
Shine on, my lovely little Rory-girl.