A baby’s first months are filled with milestones—first bath, first outing, first smile, first everything. Once she grows into a toddler, those baby book moments become fewer and stretched farther apart.
Peeper’s 21st month turned that pattern on its head.
The last month was filled with new experiences, and this adventurous toddler soaked them up. Most notable was her first trip without Dada. We met my parents in Mexico, where Peeper enjoyed a slew of firsts—tasting her first mole (so huge a hit that she ate it plain and straight from the dish), her first swim in the Pacific Ocean, witnessing her first lightning storm. I loved watching how closely she bonded with Nana and Grandpa Shempy. Every morning, she ran into their arms. She’d ask “Where Crampaw go?” when my dad left the room and sprint after my mom if she stepped away from us on the beach. While I worked, Peeper and her grandparents took walks, discovering cacti, taking water taxi rides, visiting seals (“Too noisy!”) and charming the housekeeping staff. Despite the fun of her first big vacation with Mama, she was thrilled to come home.
When Eric met us at the airport, Peeper clung to him like a superglue-monkey hybrid. Each time he tried to put her in her car seat, she wrapped her arms and legs around him even tighter, refusing to let go.
Peeper’s other firsts marked the passage of time in a way maybe only a mother would notice. She began sitting in a booster seat at the table instead of a high chair. She now rides the slide without my holding her hand. And she wore her first pig tails and then her first ponytail, which I haven’t repeated since—it made her look way more grown up than I was ready for. Firsts are memorable, but I have also loved witnessing the gradual and wonderful revelation of Peeper’s personality. She is such her own little person that my breath sometimes catches when I watch her. She is unequivocal in her opinions (as well as vocal—her verdicts are often punctuated by “No like it!” or “So excited!”), and I’m happy to be raising a strong little girl who knows her mind—even if I think she’s crazy for hating pancakes. It’s a mom cliche that their child’s current stage is the best one. But this period in Peeper’s short life is the most fun.
I love devising new things for her to try, like playing with shaving cream or stomping in tennis court rain puddles, and am thrilled by her own inventions, like feeding her toy duck “toe junk”—the lint between her toes—or doing toddler yoga beneath the triangle of my downward dog.
The extent of our fun somehow continues to grow, matching the expansion of my love for this tiny person who—implausibly, luckily—joined our family. I can’t know what next month will bring, but I’d wager this just keeps getting better and better.