Oh, my sweet girl.
You are TWO years old. Actually, you’ve been two for about 6 weeks now, but nevermind that. And we love you, SO MUCH. Your birthday falls in the heart of summer, so celebrating you fell in the midst of many other adventures.
In June, you started attending day care twice a week. Just the very act of putting you in the care of strangers wasn’t in the plan when you were born. But as my time in grad school has unfolded, and it became clear that my internship would require me to be away for at least 2 days a week, we made the decision to try it out. Because I used to teach preschool and know that putting on a brave face and staying consistent were key to your adjusting well, I kissed you goodbye on your first day and walked away as your cries echoed after me. Know this, my love–you stopped crying before I did that morning. I locked myself in a bathroom stall and tried to get it together. Waves of guilt washed over me, wondering if I was doing the right thing–was I being too selfish? After all, you didn’t NEED to be there. I hid out in the coffee shop operated by the church that houses your day care, and ducked behind pillars whenever your class walked by. I did a double take the first time I saw you. You fit so well in that little group of toddlers, yet managed to stand out, chatting loudly and happily to anyone who would listen. I was so proud of you in that moment, and so relieved that I cried again. Once again, as always, you showed me: “Mommy, I’ve got this.” In a moment where I did not feel at all like I had this, or had anything at all, you did.
You have a knack for that, kiddo: proving to me that I’m doing just fine here as your mama. You are two now, and are further spreading your wings, testing your limits and my patience. And on the days I feel like a failure, like I’m failing you and failing the world because you keep yelling “STOP IT!” at the top of your lungs, and I’m convinced that I’m the mom raising an asshole, you somehow find ways to remind me that really, we’re doing okay. After screeching with frustration, flailing about when you don’t get your way, literally kicking and screaming for most of an afternoon, you’ll suddenly remember to say “please” before demanding another snack. Then you’ll say “thank you”. You might help me clean up your toys when I ask, or give me unprompted hugs and kisses. You might say, “I luh you, Mommy” and shatter my heart a little, but those are the times I know: I’m doing okay. And for the record, every mom of toddlers is raising an asshole at some point or another. Everything you do is developmentally normal and appropriate. God help us all.
You are a natural caretaker, Sadie. You are constantly rocking your baby dolls, covering them with blankets and giving them “pats” (read: smacking them repeatedly on the back). When Daddy or I stub our toes, you’ll say “Daddy, you ok?” or “Mommy, need a kiss?” Yesterday, I was carrying a stack of boxes into the kitchen and you exclaimed, “Whoa, Mommy! Be careful!” The way you love the people in your life brings me such sweet reassurance that Daddy and I, for all of our imperfections, are doing something right in this whole parenting gig.
It will surprise NO ONE who knows me that you are a big talker. You’ve been speaking in full sentences for months, and are still rapidly picking up language. When we visited our family in Ohio this summer, your 8-year-old cousin Cooper was frustrated with his video game and shouted, “Oh, come ON!” No less than once a day now, you still say, “Oh, tum ON! Cooper says ‘tum on!” Needless to say, we watch we say around you now, and marvel almost daily at the words you know. As your abilities continue to grow, I am always both impressed and a little sad when you master something new. For months, when you were done with dinner, you’d say “All Dee!” Then one day out of the blue, you threw your hands in the air and proclaimed, “All done!” And we cheered you on, but I was sad. You used to say “Oh no, I all down!” whenever you fell. Now you clearly say, “I fall down!”, and I mourn another little bit of you I won’t get back. For the longest time, your feet wouldn’t leave the ground when you attempted to jump. When they did, I knew we’d left another sweet piece of your story behind us. I bet that’s how it will always go, where you are concerned–desperately missing what’s gone, while breathlessly anticipating what’s to come.
Sadie, there are so many Sadie-isms I’d like to immortalize here. The way you sing to yourself when you think we aren’t paying attention to you in the car. The way you laugh and jump when you’re excited, and the gap in your teeth that shows best when you’re screaming mad. The way you say, “applesauce”, “Microsoft”, and “Mooooommy!”, 756 times a day. I want to remember forever the way your feet sound as you run around the house from one activity to the next. I want to remember the way your eyes light up and your eyebrows raise when you hear Daddy come home from work. And please, dear God, don’t ever let me forget the way your little body stills fits against mine when I’m snuggling you at bedtime. The way your hair smells after a bath, and your morning breath in my face early in the morning. Baby, I want to memorize every single second with you.
So much of your future in this world is uncertain. History will show the early years of your life as tumultuous at best. I won’t detail them all here, but suffice to say that I have so many things to fear about the planet you’re growing up on, and the impact it will have on you. But kiddo, you keep making me braver. Every single day. I’m praying that together with your Daddy and all the people we love, we can navigate it all. I have to believe that you’ll just keep showing me:
Mommy, I’ve got this.
On to the next year, my darling.
Love you forever,