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little girl

little girl,

This is hard for me, this time passing thing. I'm just going to say that up front; that it is not easy. It is not easy, but it is also wonderful. That you are growing, getting big, that you are doing all the things you should be doing, collecting words, throwing tantrums, testing us, delighting us, adding incomparably to our family. All of it. I celebrate all of it even though it makes me super-duper tired and a full-fledged abuser of caffeine. There, I said it.

Today you are two.

Two. Two entire years have passed since you entered the world. And I remember that day. Of course I remember it. You arrived in the morning at 9something and I could look back and find the exact minute and maybe I will, but it was early and we had been up all night, your Daddy and I. We checked into the hospital around midnight and I sat in the hospital bed and watched the monitors, the ebbs and flows of your heartbeat, the ups and downs of my contractions. Daddy slept on an uncomfortable chair in the corner. And in the morning, it was time.

And soon you were here. In the world. In my arms. You were pink and big. 8 pound and 8 ounces. Hefty for a baby who was two weeks early. And bigger than your sisters. All of this makes me smile because you have been my tiny one. I tell people I don't quite know what to do with a baby that isn't appropriately fat, but you were, and are, my skinny-minny. You've never had a roll in your thighs; it's something that fascinated me, but the truth is it shouldn't. The truth is you are all different.

And you are. Different. You are your own little person. Smart and fiesty and physical and fast. You have more hair than your sisters did. It is wispy and dirty blonde and has this little kick to it on the end. And you have this goofy camera smile where you squint your eyes and show your teeth. And you are very very aware of what you like and what you don't like and when there is any pinch of injustice in your little orbit. You know what's up.

You are ready for school. Any chance you get, you wear your little bumble bee backpack to practice for what's to come. You love nothing more than taking your sisters to their respective schools, slipping into their classrooms, wooing their teachers, even taking a seat at the little tables and embarking on a project while you have the chance. You are at once aware that you are younger and adamant that you can do what they do. You want to keep up. And the thing is that most often you do.

One of my absolute favorite things to do is to turn our corner toward home. This is when I feel free to let go of your hands and let all three of you go. And that's just what you do. You go. You run. You chase each other toward home, your little bodies becoming blurs in the distance. And I hang back and I marvel at the sight; my three creatures alive and happy and together, en route together. It is indeed the greatest gift.

But let me tell you something. Something I will tell all of you again and again as the years pile up. None of this is easy. This raising of little people. You guys are smart and tricky and beautiful and wonderful and Daddy and I are bone-tired much of the time. It is all beyond worth it, worth it in the way the best things in life are, but it is a consistent challenge. A privilege, but also a challenge.

Take last night. Daddy and I did the bedtime juggle. We managed to get all three of you in pajamas and you all brushed your teeth. And I took you into your room for stories. And I was going to read you the puppy book you've been loving and also the Elmo one, but you wanted something new. You asked to be lifted to look at your bookshelf and I did just that and you pointed to a book, a book that means everything in the world to us. Brown Bear, Brown Bear. It's a book we read all the time to your big sisters, a book so cherished it inspired our own lullaby, the one we've been singing you since you were born. Somehow, it got lost in the shuffle and in the rubble of everyday life, but you found it. And asked me to read it.

And I read it, my eyes misting with tears. And when I was done, you asked me to read it again. And I did. And then I placed you in your crib, your bed for not that much longer, and I covered you in your two blankets and gave you your pacifier and all of your lovies. And I told you I loved you. And I slipped out and ducked in to say goodnight to your sisters. I made up a story, a Loo Woo Boo story about your birthday. And in this story, the mom - or Moo - asks her three girls - Loo, Woo, and Boo - a question.

What is happiness?

And I let your sisters answer this one. Big Girl said, "Happiness is pooping and farting." And Middle Girl said, "Happiness is when you feel, like, happy, because someone, like, gave you your toy back." And both of these answers made me happy even though they were not what I had in mind. I said to them, your big sisters: Happiness is spending time with my girls. Even though it is tricky and silly sometimes. This makes me happier than anything else in the world. And it was a story, but it was also true. And your sisters got this and their tired eyes lit up. I have a feeling you get this too. Already.

Daddy and I ate Chinese food for dinner. We were happy to sit there and talk and have some time, but then we heard you on the monitor. You were crying and I went to you and you clung to me, and tightly too. You asked for the book one more time and I caved and flipped the lights on and read it to you. And then you asked for your sisters and I told you they were sleeping, but you wouldn't give up so I sneaked you into their darkened room so you could see them sleeping. You wanted to stay there with them, but when you started to cry, we escaped. I put you back in your crib and you cried some more. I kissed you and kissed you. Goodnight, my girl, I said. Again and again. And as I left, you were still crying.

This is hard. Amazing, brilliant, but hard.

Today you are two. And I am awash in things to say, but it is too much to get down in one shot, in one place. But know this, my baby. I love you with every bit of my being. I am not perfect and I will never pretend to be, but I am trying with all my might to be the best mom and person I can be for you and your sisters. And it has been fun, hasn't it?

One day, I hope you will read this. I hope these words will bring a smile. That you will glimpse who you were and how much you were loved. Because you are an incredible little creature and you are so so loved. I look forward to our day of fun and giggles and presents and cake.

I love you to itty-bitty, skinny-minny pieces of sky, my girl. Know that. Always know that.

love,

mommy

P.S...

Here is a little video I made. Totally amateurish, but oh well.

LG Birthday from Aidan Donnelley Rowley on Vimeo.

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This Is Childhood: Eight