Today, my youngest is 18 months old.
While I realize the "half-birthday" is a fabricated one, I can't help look at her and wonder how it's possible that tomorrow, she'll be closer to two than one.
When her brother was this age, I was 7 months pregnant with their sister. And while I couldn't believe how fast he was changing everyday, I also was a little bit relieved that my baby didn't seem like such a baby anymore, relieved that he was gaining some independence just as we'd be bringing home another baby. I didn't get all nostalgic about the baby stage because we were about to do it all over again. When people called me crazy, I joked about doing the baby stage all at once, getting it over with in one foul swoop.
On Ben's 18 month birthday, I even posted this on social media with some overconfident thing like: "Where did my baby go? Good thing we'll be bringing home his baby sister in two months!"
These are the kind of math games my mind tortures me with.
I try to be mindful of my children and soak them in, although I am always coaching myself on this with a constant to-do list running through my mind.
At 18 months, Josephine has the biggest appetite. She is particularly obsessed with cheese, carrying a bag through the grocery store and sullenly handing it to the grocery store clerk to scan before grabbing it back, holding on it the whole way home, then climbing on to her chair (the high chair has been gone since her first birthday) and demanding I open it and give it to her. She says "cheese" both for the food and for taking pictures and she seems to know she's cute, scrunching her shoulders up along with the grin.
She puts everything in her mouth - hair ties, dirt, mulch, rocks, rings. She gets angry when we take them away, as if we are doing her some kind of injustice.
She wants to be outside all the time and throws fits when I drag her inside. She puts on her bike helmet and scoots around on her tricycle. She falls down in the mud and giggles and gets up and runs and then stops to play in the dirt. (And as much laundry as I do, I'm a bit grateful she so far seems to show no interest in princesses).
She loves her big brother and wants to do everything Benjamin does. She doesn't waste her time on the smaller areas at the playground. She wants to climb the big structures with Ben and throw herself down the tallest, longest slides. I wish she had just a bit of fear, but then again, I can't help but admire the way she throws herself around the playground especially while I watch other kids her age stick close to their parents.
Our token extravert, she walks up to strangers, waving and saying "hi hi hi" until they notice her and reply. I often get comments about how cute she is, and I agree.
She never wants the party to end, with a big dose of FOMO, perhaps from her mother never letting her sleep while in the tum. The other night, she cried and on and off in her crib for 45 minutes, and when I finally gave in and went in to check on her, she stood up and started shouting "Buh! Buh!" for Ben. "He's sleeping, silly!" I told her and she looked dejected. Each morning, she toddles over to her brother's room to get dressed and it's fair to say she would always rather be where he is. Last evening, she climbed out of the stroller to run around the block following her brother, and as Justin and I walked behind, we laughed about how how six months ago, she was only "knee-walking" and now she runs everywhere,
She loves Wheels on the Bus and the Itsy Bitsy spider. When I give her raspberries on her tummy, she then lifts up her shirt and asks, "more?"
She points to her big sister's portrait and says, "baby!" "That's Lydie, your big sister," I tell her and she nods. She pushes her own dolly around the house in the stroller and I wonder what when she will start to comprehend her reality, that she was born grieving. When we light Lydie's candle, she sometimes chimes in or blows kisses, and I like to think she's learning how to say "I love you, Lydie" too. She says "Lydie" when I prompt her and it simultaneously fills my heart up and cracks it wide open every time.
Justin keeps track of her words on a pad of paper in the kitchen and Ben often runs to him to tell him to add one. Just yesterday, her newest word was "hockey," and I swear you can visibly see this girl's brain working as she learns new things.
This morning, when I pulled her out of her crib and onto my lap for a snuggle, I cried. I thought of how hard I had to fight to get her here.
Happy 18 months Bowie Girl. I love you more than you'll ever know, and I'm so damn glad you're here.