(October 2010, "Practicing")
Today you are two. Two years old. And this is very hard for me to believe, but it also makes perfect sense. Hard for me to believe because, in so many ways, it was yesterday. That crisp October evening. It was our third trip to the hospital. Yes, you kept us guessing from the very start. But this time it was real. You arrived in a hurry, pink and screaming. A perfect seven pounds. Immediately, I could tell. You looked just like your sister. The pictures are proof. Thank goodness for pictures. And words.
But it also makes perfect sense. That you are here. That you are two. Because you are so big. So strong. So smart. Your toughness tickles me. Your humor baffles me. Your sweetness sustains me.
Last year on your birthday, I wrote you some words. A letter...
Baby's First Bridge
Today you are one. A full year has passed since you arrived, pink and screaming and strong. A full year has passed since I first studied your tiny face and kissed the tip of your nose and whispered your name in your ear. A big name that fits you perfectly.
A full year has passed since we brought you home, over the threshold of our good life and into our world, a world of which you are now inextricably and organically part. A full year has passed since your big sister studied you, slumbering and snug in your car seat, and then rocked you back and forth with unparalleled gentleness.
This weekend, we took you and your sister to the zoo. You were mesmerized by the llamas and the bunnies and the proud peacock. Your Daddy helped you feed a goat. You held out your tiny hand, splaying dimpled knuckles and chubby fingers, and watched in awe as this creature gobbled from your palm. You were not scared.
It was a magical day. A mixture of steady and stumbling, you chased your big sister around. You stayed close and strayed. You mimicked and did your own thing.
In this picture, you stand on a bridge at the zoo. You had run ahead of me, testing nascent wings, and while worry zipped through me, I hung back. I watched as you stopped squarely in the middle of that bridge and looked around. And like a good mother, I snapped a picture. To capture your cuteness and your spirit. To capture my baby on that bridge.
That first bridge.
Between there and here. Between here and there. Between baby and toddler and person. Between mine and ours and yours. Because we might hold you tight and protect you and feed you and sing you to sleep, but you are already yours.
Today, I cant help but look back at your first day and first smiles and first steps. But I cant help but look forward either to the day when you sing and speak in sentences, to the day when you can feed the goats on your own, to the day when you and your sister can have conversations. But most of all, I imagine a day when you can read these words and the ones that will follow. I imagine and hope that in reading these words, you will be able to glimpse your beginning and with it, the furious and complicated affection I have for you and your sister and your Daddy. An affection that fuels me. That compels me. That makes me tear up in Starbucks at 10:16am on a Monday morning.
Happy Birthday, Baby. Keep sniffing and smiling and stealing your sisters yogurts. Keep growing and learning and treading lifes bridges. We will always be here to hold your hand or hang back.
Insecurely and forever yours,
I read this now, my own words, my own emotions, complicated and deep, and my eyes fill with happy tears. I smile, too. I smile because so much can change in a year. We are in a new home where you share your beloved purple room with your big sis. You now have a mess of beautiful blonde hair. You now speak in those full sentences. You now feed the goats on your own.
I smile also because so little can change in a year. I am still right here, in this precarious spot of rabid maternal love, hoping and wishing and knowing. Hoping that your happiness, palpable and profound, only grows. Wishing that time I could freeze time and memorize every ounce of who you are right now. Knowing that I can't, and that you are on your way to becoming a wonderful (and "wild and woolly" as Pots would say) little person. How little can change. I still sit here, celebrating the present moment in my PJs, imagining a future when you read these very words, words I write so you know how much and how impossibly I love you.
I realize something. Something that rattles me now as I sip my coffee. This is your final birthday as our tiniest girl. Next year at this time, things will be different. You will be out of diapers and out of your crib. You will be in school. And you will have a little sister. I have no doubt that you will love her, that you will be an amazing big sister because you are amazing little sister. An amazing little girl. You will be loved and love. Next year at this time, you will be sneaking a little bald baby with blonde fuzz bits of your frosting. I can see it now. And seeing this makes me smile some more.
I must now go and help Daddy frost your cake. And when we are finished we will both come open the door to your purple room. We will lift you from your crib as your sister from hops down from her bed and we will suffocate you both in the best of morning hugs.
"Happy Birthday, Baby!" we will all say. Because today is your day.
You are a beautiful creature, my girl. My big girl now. My Baby always.
I love you to itty-bitty pieces,
- Take a minute and wish my girl a happy day!
- Take a minute and tell this Mommy that it is okay that her Baby is two. Two!