Tomorrow we celebrate the Littlest’s second birthday. Of course, in moments of milestone and reflection like this the usual sentiments come to mind: I can’t imagine our family without her; it seems like both yesterday and eons ago that she was born; she is a gift, a blessing from Him, who has both enriched my life and challenged me to grow in more ways than I can count. And yes, all of this is true, if not a bit trite.
But there is more. Isn’t there always? Dear Littlest, you are this amazing person! Your older brother can be such a torrent, such a force, already so well-liked, that at times I’ve wondered how you would make your own way in this world, under his shadow. Why did I doubt your strength? You have proven over and over that I needn’t worry. You are not a faint little girl, content to be known only in relation to those around you. We walk through the halls of the preschool to pick up your brother, your hand in mine when you let me, and you smile and say glad hellos to any who will listen, even greeting the teachers by name. Your presence is undeniable.
I will not mistake your tendency to be easy with routine, and a personality that can move in flexibility for a lack of opinion or firm steadfastness. No, you have shown me that you can have both an easy-going light-hearted spirit and still be committed, grounded. You convey this easily, and with tenacity, but without the sometimes harsh edge that your brother carries. Being so much like your brother myself, this is something that I admire and hope to learn from you. I do not doubt that this will serve you even more as you earn your years.
You have an imagination that inspires me; an independence and depth to your play that is glorious to watch. You have embraced a manner of playing that allows you to mimic what you see — in me, in our family, in our daily routines and our special occasions, and it is always entertaining to listen to your interpretations, and notice what carries weight in your mind. The stories you weave, and sometimes sing, are complex and nuanced. You encourage your brother and invite him into your pretend worlds, and I’m filled with love to watch the friendship between the two of you develop further, deeper, and without the aid of your father and I. You complement his rigidity, and I laugh at the vision I get of a time in the future where it is you enticing him to make some interesting choices. He laughs deeply and whole-heartedly at you, dear Littlest, and the love is fierce.
I am honored and challenged to raise you — a young girl, a young woman today, and mostly don’t know how to not over-think the feminine legacy that you will inherit from me. What I do know is that you are your very own person, and that I trust God will guide me in ways to honor this, and give you what you need.
You, this bundle of pink — pink skin, pink blankets, cozy and content always in my arms as a babe. You wouldn’t nap without me for some time, and that was OK. I swallowed you whole, breathed you in, and even now, you allow me this from time to time. My body grieves your growing, your streching out from my womb, but still it is well, oh so well, with my soul.
Oh, Littlest. You, who has been anticipating this day: “My birthday coming up!” for weeks now. You, who began singing “Happy Birthday” to yourself three times before the crowd was ready when we gathered this past weekend. You, who demanded chocolate cupcakes, only to lick the icing off of yours and trade it in, unbeknownst to me, for a new one. You, dear Littlest, who won’t be the Littlest for long. I love you. Happy 2nd Birthday.