Dear Sadie: 18 months…ish.

Hey kiddo.

Yeah, I know. You’ll be 20 months old tomorrow. TWENTY. As in, 4 months away from two. But I can’t let this season go by without trying to record some of the sweet things you’re doing, and how we (somehow) love you more every day.

Presently, you have 13 teeth, with the 14th threatening to appear at any moment. You have started to run, a gait that seems propelled by sheer momentum, and is often accompanied by your sweet chatter. Sometimes, I’ll hear your little voice wobbling “whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa”, in perfect rhythm with the thundering of your tiny little feet. You love to dance, which involves holding your hands in the air and twirling, slowly, in a circle. It’s possible that you get this from me. You “jump”. As in, you swing your whole body in a sort of distorted gallop, with the biggest grin on your sweet face. Your feet have yet to leave the ground, but you don’t seem to mind. And really, neither do I. The day will come when you finally execute a real live jump, and as I celebrate your victory,  I know I’ll start missing your grinning and galloping. You’re loving to pretend these days. When we go to your playroom, you’ll make a beeline for your play kitchen and say “eat!” while you build sandwiches and scramble eggs with your wooden food and utensils. When you determine that the meal is ready, you enthusiastically jab a toy fork at my mouth, encouraging me to “bite?”

You love puzzles and are pretty good at them. In the past week, you’ve discovered your Mega Blocks and will spend 20 minutes at a time building, taking apart, and rebuilding your “towah”. You can identify all of the (capital) letters of the alphabet…almost entirely due to your “laptop” toy. While we cook or do dishes, you stand perched on your learning tower, pressing the buttons over and over. We like to call out, “Sadie, where’s the ___?” and watch you race to locate and press the corresponding button.  You can identify the numbers 1,2,3,5, 6, and 9. Usually. You’re getting pretty good at color identification, though blue, purple, and–your very favorite–yellow, are your most consistent. You love to learn, and we love to watch you.

And oh, my girl…how you do love to talk. When we are home, you are rarely silent. I’ve lost count of the words you know, and you’re adding to your vocabulary every single day. You have started speaking in 2-3 word sentences, and your current verbal masterpiece is the 4-word Whopper: “I bush ma teet” (I brush my teeth!) Kiddo, you are so full of smiles and spunk. While you are a true toddler and can throw down an exhausted tantrum with the best of them, you still manage to maintain your sweet and happy demeanor most of the time. So far, you’re a pretty good listener. I’m doing my damndest to keep you that way, even as you test your boundaries. Your new favorite protests involve diaper changes and getting dressed. You’ll run laps around your bedroom in a diaper. When we repeat our requests, you often wander in the corner and stand facing the wall, occasionally turning around to shoot us a frown. The first time you did it, I forgot all about effective parenting and burst out laughing. Never a dull moment with you, kiddo. I love that we can communicate with you now, and hearing you respond to our questions melts our hearts, even when your response is an emphatic “NO!”

It still takes you awhile to warm up to new people and situations. When I leave you in the church nursery or with friends, they’ll often report that you were happy but quiet. It makes me a little sad to hear this, because I worry about you feeling anxious and nervous without Daddy or I around, and because I want other people to get to see the side of you that I do–the loud, boisterous, hilarious girl I love so much. But like you do, you are teaching me in this. You’re showing me that you and I are different…for all of the ways you ARE like me, with your love for music and books and letters, you are SO MUCH your own person. When you are reserved in new situations, I’m learning to find comfort in your temperament, and learning to champion this part of you and protect it. You have an innate ability to keep the best parts of yourself close until you, and only you, are ready. I will always do my best to keep you safe, but there will be times in your life when I can’t protect you…In your tiny little soul I see the beginnings of a young woman who will know to protect herself, as much as she can, until she is sure she can trust her surroundings. I pray that I will keep celebrating this part of you, even when I wish that the whole world could know the you that I know. You will only share the best of you with the people who have earned your trust…that, my precious girl, is something I learned far too late, and some never learn at all.

Speaking of when I leave you places…you’re starting  part-time daycare in two months, and I’m not coping well. I’m starting my internship this summer, and we need to make sure you’ll be taken care of. I’d wanted to find a way to keep you home and close, but financially and logistically, daycare was the right answer. I can’t tell you how often fear just grips my heart when I think about leaving you for the first time. We’ve never left you in the care of anyone but family or friends, save for the church nursery…and on those mornings, we don’t leave the building. The idea of spending the entire day a 10-15 minute drive from you makes me cringe. The fact that your caregivers will have numerous other children to supervise and won’t be able to monitor your every move terrifies me too. The “what-ifs” that have run through my thoughts range from mildly neurotic to completely paranoid.

But the thing is, and I’ve said it before: Your safety is never fully in my hands. Your life is ALWAYS in God’s hands. I am clinging to this truth as we prepare for this next chapter in your life. I pray that above all that you’ll stay safe. And I pray that you’ll adjust quickly and well, and that you’ll feel happy and loved and secure in the knowledge that Daddy and I love you more than anything in the world.

This season, sweet girl, is a tough one. Nearly two years after becoming parents, we are still struggling to figure out how to balance jobs and school and housework with being good partners for each other and good parents to you. Baby girl, I feel like I’m failing more often than not. Someday I’ll be able to tell you why I decided to pursue this graduate school dream when I did, and all the ways it’s stretching and growing me into a better woman, who is slowly starting to resemble the person I’d like to be. We can talk about the state of our world, and why it’s so important for our future, for YOUR future, that I learn how to help people, especially women. And I hope you’ll understand. And I hope you’ll be proud.

Lord knows I’m proud of you. As always, my love, keep on growing, full speed ahead.

But take your time.

Love you forever,