Last week we celebrated Eleanor's first birthday. It was a smashing success, with a nice mix of my friends, Joanna's friends and both of our families. The new deck in the backyard made for the perfect grilling platform, the kids (ranging from several months old to early teens) all seemed to have a good time and the adults enjoyed themselves, although for the first time the stragglers mostly ended up leaving because they were bringing a rugrat with them who needed to take a nap.
In any event, I suppose it's natural at times like this to look back on the past year and take stock of everything that's happened. It's certainly been enlightening, enjoyable and just overall an amazing experience.
Eleanor went from a tiny little bundle of baby to a little person with her own desires (more food please!) and interests (can we read that book again?) who's even starting to walk around on her own (a recent development from the past few weeks).
Joanna's turned out to be an amazing mother (as expected), although she will admit that for quite some time she was a little surprised that she was actually somebody's mom. I suppose it comes with all the babysitting she did as a kid, but it takes some time before it really sets in that yes, this kid is yours, it's not just a really long term babysitting job.
I think one of my favorite memories from this part of our lives together was watching Eleanor deal with a week apart from Mommy. Joanna had a week long conference in Copenhagen, so Eleanor spent the week with me (and her Nanny and her grandparents and the multitude of other people who make up her daily life, of course). She actually dealt really well with the whole thing, but once Joanna got home it became clear exactly how much Eleanor had missed her. Our normally independent little girl spent the next 48 hours or so following her mommy around like a little blonde shadow, as if she was trying to keep Joanna from flying off to Copenhagen again. "You can't fly to Copenhagen if I'm sitting on your lap! Now lets get another book for you to read to me..."
As for myself, I'm enjoying being a dad. It's certainly got its exasperating moments (awesome, diet coke spilled under the table, in the magazines and on the wall!), but Eleanor makes them all worth while. It's just so cool watching her grow up, she's always been more alert and interactive than a lot of babies, and it's only continued as she's gotten older.
We've always been pretty big on taking Eleanor out and about, she likes getting out of the house and if we're going to go someplace Joanna and I would definitely prefer the Science Museum or the Aquarium to the mall. It was pretty clear at the beginning that Eleanor didn't have much of a preference, she can just as easily enjoy looking at the crowds of people at Target as she can the penguins at the Aquarium, but as she's gotten older it's pretty clear she's actually started to get something out of the more interesting destinations for these weekend trips. These days she's just as likely to be staring with rapt attention at the animals at the zoo (she was a big fan of the ostrich at the Franklin Park Zoo and the giant tortoise at Southwick's, for what it's worth) as she is to be staring at the other people in line at the grocery store.
It's been a hell of a year, and looking back all I can say is I'm looking forward to many more years of watching her grow. Eleanor's just gotten more fun as the year went on, and I'm sure that'll only continue as she gets older.