My darling girl,
A few nights ago, we were busy and you missed your late afternoon catnap, the one that gets you through the evening until bedtime. You were so tired and grumpy that I finally just rocked you, trying to hold you off until bedtime. But you fell asleep in my arms, cuddled so close to me that our breaths mixed, your face tucked into the curve of my neck. If there is anything perfect in this world, that was it.
There’s a lot of ugliness in our world and I won’t burden your sweet, young soul with the details, but not a moment goes by that I don’t think of how lucky I am to be with you. To have you in my arms. To watch you giggle at Henry. To tuck you in every night. To kiss your chubby cheeks a thousand times a day. To tickle your tummy. To hold your innocent gaze. (And by the way, locking eyes with a baby is another perfection in this world. Adults don’t lock eyes anymore; we somehow become self-conscious to hold a gaze for too long, but babies don’t have that self-consciousness yet and I can get lost in the depths of your eyes.) To see your beaming smile when I wake you up from a nap.
You are my child, a brand new person who started your life inside my own body, and to know your absolute trust in me takes me breath away. You have no fears. You have no doubts in my abilities to care for you. You have unwavering faith that I’ll get you from your bed, that I’ll feed you, that I’ll change your diaper, that I’ll sing to you and talk to you and hold you and play with you. You trust me with absolution. One of my biggest fears in life is breaking that trust, even non-intentionally. To have something happen to prevent me from being able to meet your needs and be with you. I say all this because that ugliness I mentioned? It’s my worst nightmare happening to other loving parents. And the events that are playing out in history right now make me all the more aware of every blessed moment I have with you and Henry. When I say I’m lucky, I know how true that is. I don’t take a moment of it for granted.
I read this recently in a book, “There’s just something about daughters. From the very beginning, I felt a rush of wisdom that I wanted to impart to her about womanhood: how to be brave, how to build real confidence, and fake it when you have to, how to respect yourself without taking yourself too seriously, how to love yourself or at least try to and never stop trying, how to decide who opinion to value and whose to disregard quietly, how to believe if yourself even when others don’t.” (from What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton) That paragraph resonated so deeply with me that I returned the iPad ebook to the library and bought the hardcover just so I could highlight the physical pages.
You’ve just recently started sitting on your own. You still have some spills when you get excited or tired from sitting too long, but you’re getting visibly stronger every day. We have reached this magical, unicorn stage of babyhood where you can independently sit, but you can’t yet get anywhere. We have a very limited time before the baby gate will need to go up and Henry will have to put his small toys out of reach. (I can imagine how mad he’s going to get the first time—or several times—that you get into his stuff.)
I can’t believe how fast time is going and I’m not just saying that in cliche mom-talk. You’re eating food like a ravenous girl (like, you will aggressively try to pull the spoon if I’m not getting to your mouth quickly enough), you are learning how to drink from a sippy cup (how are you old enough for this?), you are sitting up, you’re funny and adorable and interactive and incredibly curious about what everyone around you is doing, mostly Henry. Your smiles are bright and big for your daddy. You have moved from the carseat-in-the-stroller to just sitting in the stroller like a little girl. You can sit in a baby swing now and you love it! You are so cuddly and not just because you are squishy (you do have the most amazing rolls!). You are cuddly in that you actually love to snuggle close. You like to take my face in both your hands and then just head butt me to get your head tucked against mine so that my lips are lined up with the top of your head, perfect for kissing. You giggle when I kiss your cheeks and neck and then snuggle back in for more. (Similarly, when Henry’s in a snuggly mood, he asks for “nineteen four twenty” kisses, a number whose origin I don’t know, but it’s consistent every time. “Nineteen four twenty”.) In so many ways, the things that I had been looking forward to—longing for—back when you were first born are already here. Bam. You’re a half a year old and when we do the same amount of time again, you’ll be walking.
What a joy to be your mama. What a great responsibility—and I mean that not as big, but as wonderful—to have your trust in me to provide for your needs, to be there for you always. The way you look at me is filled with pure, undiluted love and I echo that right back to you. “There’s just something about daughters…”
I love you with abandon.