You became a child in the moments I wasn’t looking, and I have loved every minute of your second year on earth.
Dear beautiful girl,
You became a child in the moments I wasn’t looking—while I slept, or wrote, cleaned the dishes. Otherwise, surely I would have seen the shadows of your baby self fluttering from your face, witnessed the shrinking of the infant creases in your wrists and the disappearance of dimples on your knuckles.
Surely I would have noticed the moment the top of your head began to smell of sunshine and wet soil and Playdoh and strawberries instead of that unnamable new baby perfume. I would have captured each fragile moment of your metamorphosis, frozen and kept them, written each of them down.
Surely I must have been sleeping.
Because look at you, beautiful magical child of a girl.
Look at you.
There is a core of fire that runs in you, a deep and profound confidence, a sureness of self that you wear in your eyes and your tiny new voice and your goofiest smile. It is the thing that holds you, that stands you on your feet in rooms of strangers, meeting their eyes, holding their hands, singing them songs.
It is the vault of your secrets, the part of you that waits to reveal what you are learning, what you are seeing, what you know until you have it all mastered and the moment is safe and specific and completely yours.
You trust your own timing. You carve your own way. You meet strangers from a place within your spirit that knows its own worth and trusts the God-thing in new faces, the potential for love, the desire to play.
I envy this in you. I watch it, and learn it, and let you teach it to me.
You, at two, are generous with kisses.
You are prone to spontaneous bursts of enthusiastic hugging.
You are fully convinced that life is not worth living unless we stop and dance whenever you feel the rumble of heavy bass.
You love your grandparents and aunts so passionately that occasionally, when they are not with you, we must yell their names in the car at the top of our lungs, a lament to the heavens for the brutal injustice of their absence.
You are convinced that all food falls into one of two categories: soup or cake. You prefer the latter.
And somewhere within you is a magic bit, a fiery core, a sureness. I watch it, and learn it, and let you teach it to me.
You love Daniel Tiger with a love that borders on obsession.
You take fantastic care of your babies, kissing and wearing and tucking them in.
You call all the trucks and trains and trolleys “Toot,” and the sight of a bus sends you into literal spasms of joy.
You still laugh whenever the wind hits just right.
You still take my face in your hands like you’ve been trying and trying to tell me something I haven’t understood.
You still prefer to fall asleep on the back of my neck or lying with our noses touching, eye to eye. And your feet no longer fit in the palms of my hands. Your feet used to fit in the palms of my hands.
You are still the thing for which I am most profoundly grateful, still, the someone who drives me to ground and renew and trust and seek after my Maker, still my very best girl.
My promise to you, tiny beautiful magical child of a girl, is to name the sureness in you, to remind you of it, to feed it and nurture it and help it to grow.
I have loved every minute of your second year on earth, and I promise you that I will love every minute of every year with you that follows, even the hardest minutes, the angriest, the bleakest.
You and I will continue to work our way through our imperfect days—we will rely on grace, we will cling to each other, we will celebrate.
We will measure always, always, always in love.