Friday, August 18, 2006
Today, as of later this afternoon, we will have had you in our arms for an entire year. I was going to say that we will have had you for an entire year, but truthfully you've been with us far longer than that. We carried you in our hearts for 6 months, and then Mommie carried you in her body until you were pulled, screaming, from that safe place and given to the far more tenuous (but no less fiercely loving) cradle of our arms.
Before you were born, we already knew so many things about you. We knew that you were going to be tiny. We knew that you had adorable little fat rolls on your thighs. We knew that not much phased you. We would watch you in your private spa, your hands behind your head, your ankles crossed, just hanging out in there. (You have no idea how your extreme relaxation gave fits to the nurses trying to make certain that you were ok in there). We knew that you had a temper, and that it was slow to rise and quick to burn off. All of these things we looked forward to with great anticipation and love.
But it was the things that we didn't know, the things that you have been revealing to us over this last year, that has proven to be such an amazing delight. Your sense of humor, your ability to find the humor in everything around you, the fact that your ability to make jokes and tease has expressed itself from your earliest moments. It is rare that we can't distract you from a temper or an upset by doing something you would consider funny -- and you consider so very many things funny! It seems to you that this world was put here primarily to amuse you, and you are mightily amused.
I remember holding you in my arms when you were a few weeks old. You were sleeping. I was reading. And suddenly I heard a rich, fat chuckle. I looked down at you and you were chuckling in your sleep -- a little smile on your face. That sound was the loveliest thing I had heard in my entire life. And Mommie and I are so lucky that we get to hear that laugh many, many times a day. You are joy incarnate. You are a giggle made flesh.
But you are more than that, too. For there is this deep soulfullness within you, this ability to pierce through illusions. There are moments when I look at you and I know that you are not fooled by my attempts at perfection. These moments when you let us see that you will never have the wool pulled over your eyes also fill me with joy, even as they terrify me. Joy because life can be so hard for people, girls, who stand out, who don't fit the frames people would like to hang on them. You're going to need every bit of wisdom and wileyness and perception you've got to make it through this world whole. And that is also why I'm terrified, as well. Not because you will be wiley and stubborn and strong, but because you will have to be so to survive intact.
Today you made your very first long-distance phone call to your Auntie Kathy. Unfortunately, we didn't know that you'd made it. But there you go. So independent. You know that a phone is for talking, for saying hi, and you're determined to talk, talk, talk to as many people as possible. A few months ago your little toy phone was enough to satisfy this craving of yours. But now nothing but the real phone will do. When Mommy or I talk on the phone you reach for it, call out hi! or other words. When we put the phone to your ear you sit in stunned silence. We've been allowing you to play with the real phone, but that may have to stop, now that you've managed to place a long distance call.
This letter was going to be a welcome to toddlerhood, but in truth you've been a toddler now for months. Your babyhood is slipping away before our eyes, with each emphatic "No!" that explodes from your lips. I would be lying if I said I wasn't sad. But I would also be lying if I sad that sad is the main thing I feel. Mostly, I feel excited. Each unfolding of yours is a delight. And though I realize that I may not be able to say that for much longer, I also know that no matter how frustrated I become with your behavior over the next few decades, I wouldn't have it any other way.
And now you know, as if you didn't before, what big saps your mommies are. Please don't use it against us.
Happy Birthday, darling!