My dearest Lillian,
I want to preface this letter by pointing out that I’m a little annoyed you’ve taken over my blog. This is not what this site is supposed to be for. There are enough sappy Happy Shiny Family blogs out there – I had one myself, of the Happy Shiny Newlywed variety, and it was drivel. This is not a place for drivel. This is a place for writing, and all the chaos that goes with it; it’s a place for politics; a place where I stand on my soapbox and talk about the causes close to my heart; a place where I am a wordsmith and witty ice queen.
But you melt the ice.
You, with your toothy smiles and sloppy, milky kisses. You, with your high-pitched giggle and the stumbling way that you run. You, with the way you are inseparable from ‘your’ dog. You, with the way your face lights up when I pick you up from daycare; the way you drop whatever you’re doing to come running to me, hands in the air, yelling “mumm-eeeeee!”. You, with the way you call yourself “Ninnian”. You, yes, even you, with your toddler tantrums and the whirlwind of mess that seems to follow you.
I don’t know what I did before you.
Perhaps I wrote more, or read more, or just wasted my ample time with Netflix. Perhaps I had hobbies. Perhaps I went on lunch dates, perhaps there was a TV show that I “just couldn’t miss”. Perhaps I looked for meaning in baking the perfect sponge cake, or tried to forge an identity as The Woman Who Makes Everything Herself. Or perhaps I just loafed. The funny thing is, I truly don’t remember. You have been in my life such a short time, but in that time you have changed me so much that I don’t remember who I was.
I have spoken before about moments. The very first time it occurred to me that your childhood is fleeting, you were about six weeks old and I had just nursed you off to sleep. We were cuddled together on the couch, in that dingy apartment in Marietta, just us two. I had a to-do list as long as my arm, and Baloo was whining to go out, but I just sat there with you sleeping in my arms; knowing that one day, I would forget this. I knew that this specific unimportant day, as much as it meant the world to me right then, would one day vanish from my memory. I thought of all the other unimportant days, all the quiet moments that had already passed without pomp or circumstance. I wanted to remember them all, every single moment of your life, even the little details. To this day, I remember that hour or so I spent snuggling on the couch with you. As I feared, I don’t remember other days. Little non-milestone days, like when you were 23 days old; 78 days old; 105 days old; or the third time you called me Mama or the eighth time you pulled up on the furniture.
You are two. TWO. How can that be? Weren’t you just born yesterday? I remember it vividly. I remember that they put you on my chest and you looked, frankly, pissed off, with a hint of terror. You raised your little head just the tiniest bit and your eyes were a muddy grey-blue. Your gaze met mine and I saw the murkiness fade, and I am sure science would tell me that I was seeing your eyes focus for the first time, but I refuse to believe it. What I saw was recognition; the fear leaving. You knew who I was, immediately; and it’s strange that when I first saw you, I thought “oh, yeah, I remember now” as if I already knew your face.
How did you grow so fast, becoming a small person all of your own in the time it took me to blink? You were helpless, at one time; completely dependent on me to feed you, clothe you, wash you, entertain you, lay you down for a nap. Now you do all of these things yourself. You speak to me. You count to three (oh, my aching heart). You climb into your high chair. You draw me little pictures at daycare. You rule this house, Little Roo. I can pretend all I want that I am in charge, but my life has been completely altered to suit your schedule; my Pinterest-perfect home sacrificed to toys and washable fabrics. Even the dog takes orders from you (thank you, by the way, for getting him out of the kitchen this morning. I guess he “didn’t hear me” again).
You needed me, once, and now it seems that I am the one who needs you. Sweet, precious girl, you have pulled me out from dark days by doing nothing more than existing. I have found that identity, now, that meaning that I always searched for. I am still The Woman Who Makes Everything Herself. I am still Fearless Writer and Witty Ice Queen. I am still Aspiring Lawyer and Big Dreamer. But now, I am also Lillian’s Mother, and it turns out that is the missing piece I was searching for all along.
We are a team. We are formidable. I’ve been blessed to have you to myself for this whole second year, and I wouldn’t have it any way. I don’t want to share you. With it being Just Us Two, like it was a lifetime ago on that couch in Marietta, we complete each other.
Here’s to a lifetime of adventures.
Happy birthday, my beautiful not-so-little Roo.