You emerged tiny and slippery. Your body was warm and firm. I found strength I didn't know I had birthing you. It was not the strength of stone, firm, hard, unmoving, but the strength of a young willow; the ability to bend, and not break, to yield to the storms instead of resisting them, to hold my arms up in surrender and let the forces around bend and shape me all the while trusting that it would not carry me away, trusting in the rock that holds me but no longer trying to be the rock. I learned at last not to try and uselessly fight the way things are, but to face the way they are and find a way through it instead. It's hard to believe that such a tiny bundle could bring in her wake such great wisdom and peace, but you did.
It's been really great to not have any depression this year, at all. I don't know why, but I'm grateful. Babies are a lot of fun when you're not feeling overwhelmed by life. And you are especially fun, perhaps the funnest baby ever. I hear myself laughing when you are around, all the time, and the part of me that sits removed and analyzes everything listens to that and thinks, "Wow, I must really be happy."
Mostly I am.
You seem to be too.
You've taken to laughing, a sort of fake belly laugh whenever someone else around you is laughing. You are joining in on the fun. You may not be exactly sure why it's fun, or funny, but you want to be part of the group and so you open your mouth wide and join in. And then of course we all laugh some more because you are just too adorable, and you sound silly too.
You're getting a lot of mileage out of your teeth, and you're especially fond of grinding them together. This drives your daddy insane, by the way, he can't stand the sound of grinding teeth. You don't get why sometimes he puts you down when you're sitting on him, and sometimes you cry. So stop torturing the poor guy already with that sound and he'll hold you longer.
Oh and you are busy. Busy, busy, busy. You pull out books and try to look at them. You shred toilet paper, you unload the dishwasher while I'm trying to load it. You dump blocks out of the box, then back in the box, then out of the box, over and over again. Of course, you never finish off with them all back in the box and neatly on the shelf, no, that wouldn't be exciting enough. You need to wander through the house blocks in one hand, crayon in the other, and hide them in places where it will be painful to step on them. You're grinning and giggling the whole time you are doing this, so I can't help thinking it's purposeful mischief.
You like to grab hold of my knees now when I"m trying to go somewhere, and trip me. If you think I've been standing at the counter too long in the kitchen, you'll push your body in between me and the counter and start forcing my knees backwards as hard as you can. It's really quite bossy of you, and still funny.
You watch noises and imitate sounds and sometimes your noises sound like words, beyond mumumumumumum, or dah!
You love to play with the big kids. They are your favorite people. When ever you can pretend to yourself that they are including you, or whenever they actually do you are ecstatic. You will follow them around and try to play their games for hours. And they are usually very patient and let you play along and include you and try to be careful that you don't get hurt. Something deep inside me wells up spills over with warm gushes to see the three of you play together so joyfully.
Today we went to the store to get party things. You were walking around outside with your brother while I locked the door, so instead of plopping you in the stroller as we started off, I let you walk. You toddled behind the big kids grinning proudly and laughing as you hurried along, and they encouraged you to come. You walked around the corner, past the playground around the mailboxes and down the sidewalk, a good 100 yards or more before I scooped you up and put you in the stroller for the rest of the journey. You just can't wait to be a big kid.
And today, in a way you are. You are bidding babyhood goodbye more and more taking great leaping strides into the world of toddlers and older children. My heart hurts watching you. It makes the gigantic body of your big brother even more bittersweet as I can hardly pull him onto my lap anymore. I miss the closeness that I had with him, that I still have with you for a time. I regret moving him into his own room when he was 4. Especially since the Girl still hasn't moved out of our room, granted she only turns 4 this week, but it has turned out that he is the only one who sleeps alone at night and it wrenches my heart sometimes to think of it when he asks, "Why am I sleeping by myself mom, I wish I wasn't the only one sleeping in my room." I promise him that his sister will join him soon but what I really want to do is turn back time, take it back, bring him back inside the warm circle of our bedroom, of my body, and hold him close once more. I didn't know it would hurt this much to watch my baby grow up. I guess that really doesn't belong in your birthday letter, but I don't know if I would feel that way if you weren't growing up so fast too.
I want to be the mom who lets go, who can hold my kids securely, but not stifle them and keep protecting them when it's time for them to take off on their own. I don't want to be the mom who pushes them out of the nest too early either. Maybe I'll have it figured out in time for you.
Well, my funny silly girl. I keep saying it, because it's how I feel, you are the greatest gift wrapped in soft skin and silky hair, long curly eyelashes and dimples. I sit in awe of how blessed I have been to know you, to give birth to you, to hold you in my arms everyday and night. Some people who don't have a lot of children I suppose may be surprised to hear that it works this way, but for me, rather than become more blase the more children I have, instead I feel a deepening sense of awe. The more children I am blessed with the more my awareness of just how precious this gift really is expands. I start to feel the sacredness of ordinary life, how fleetingly precious and divine these moments are. And I begin to feel that the moments holding you, teaching your siblings, serving my little family, these, these are my sacraments, my communion. And I start singing to myself the chorus of a very old hymn, "Sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble..."
I'm not worthy of such an honor, and responsibility. And yet, in His grace he gave it to me anyway. And this journey though often terrifying, is an adventure I don't deserve, and wouldn't pass on for a minute, and I hope that we all come out of it victorious.
And now, pictures of the cuteness.