Our birthday tradition of waking the girls with balloons in their beds continues…in Cricket’s big girl bed this year!!!
Tonight you wouldn’t let me leave your side. You spent the evening babbling while I lay next to you, trying gently to urge you to close your eyes. But it’s your birthday today — and you know it. The excitement was too overwhelming, too energizing. You love being the center of attention, Crickie, so today was truly your day. But then, when the balloons had all been popped and the cupcakes all eaten, it was time to rest, and you didn’t want your day to end. You wanted to talk about everything we did, to relive every moment. And so we did, until the conversation became very one-sided, and I could hear the slowing of your heavy, sleepy breath. Every time I was certain you had finally drifted off, I would slowly move to leave the room, and every time you’d remind me that you were still awake with a desperate, “But I want you!” *Sigh.* The orange, inky glow of the early night sky gave me away with each move, and after seeing the plea in your little brown eyes time and time again, I finally acquiesced. How could anyone willingly leave being loved so deeply? So instead of trying to separate myself from you, little one, I leaned into your need, and in a way it filled a need for me, too. Motherhood has brought forth so many hidden and unknown things within me, and in the best way possible. I could never have fathomed how fulfilling it would be to hold your child close, to hear their steady, sleepy breaths in rhythm with yours.
Laying there, with you, in your big girl bed, my mind wandered to the passing of time — as usual. How has it been two years? It seems that the older I get the faster time moves, and the approach of your second birthday proved that point. Didn’t we just have your first birthday party, like, YESTERDAY? Didn’t you just turn one? This past year has been a bit of a blur — a challenging, wrecking, wonderful blur. Our family has done so much, changed so much. We are not the same people we were 365 days ago, and you, little Kit, certainly are not either. When we moved into our home, just a month after your first birthday, you were a new walker. You drank from a bottle and wore diapers. Your vocabulary was immense for your age but just a shadow of what it is now. And now, now you are so much more grown up in every way. There is a deep-seeded piece of me that refuses to believe that you aren’t a baby anymore, but with each passing day I can deny it a little less. You are capable of anything you want physically — walking, running, riding, climbing, jumping. You were weaned at 15 months and are drinking out of grown up glasses and eating off my plate at every opportunity. You’re trying eagerly to potty train yourself, as much as I’m trying to delay you. In every way possible you are pushing forward into childhood with an eagerness I both love and hate; you are ready, but I am not.
The most telling indicator of how far you are from infancy, dear Cricket, is that you can speak your mind. And you do. At every chance you get. (That is know I know you are mine, haha. :) ) The pediatrician pulled me aside at a well-check a few months ago after observing you and speaking with you. “So, let’s talk about Cricket’s high IQ, and what a blessing and a curse it will be.” I laughed at that comment, but she was right. You are incredibly smart, Smiles. Insanely smart. They’ve moved you up a class for next year at preschool and refer to you as “the third teacher” this year because you’re so ahead. While most children are working on speaking and stringing phrases together, you can speak in complete and complex sentences. You express your emotions with words and with accuracy. You understand temporal things (like “right now,” which is your favorite phrase currently). You and I have conversations, sweet child, and that is amazing on so many levels. I love knowing you at such a young age, what you like and dislike, what brings you joy and what confuses you, what you think about and dream about. You are constantly in the middle of a thought, and I love being your audience — most of the time, haha. The flip side of that big brain of yours is that you are opinionated and very vocal about those opinions. In fact, your birthday today is a true testament to your headstrong ways. You had been so excited about your birthday party theme until a month or so ago when you all of a sudden decided that you wanted to change it to be Peppa Pig. I was already in the throes of planning your big day, so I ignored your chatter and continued on as planned. But you persisted. And persisted. And persisted. So, in an act of compromise, we threw you a Peppa Pig birthDAY in hopes of fulfilling your every dream. (And it seems that we did, since most of what you babbled about tonight revolved around all the Peppa Pig decorations, gifts and clothing from today.) You are so headstrong and sassy and demanding at times…which I suppose is simply getting what I deserve. ;) Your dad and I call you a Sour Patch Kid because first you are sour, then you are sweet, just like the candy. Your sassiness is your way of testing of limits and lines, which is challenging, but once you’ve figured out your place, you like to hug it out to remind us that you’re still our sweet little baby.
But, truthfully, you’re not our sweet little baby anymore. You go to school; you have friends; you sleep in a big girl bed, for goodness sake! Your sister was over three by the time we got rid of her crib, but you’re always eager to be on her heels, so when you started asking for a real bed, we weren’t surprised. I can see who you are going to be one day, sweet Crickie, because you are already that person. And I LOVE that person: smart, passionate, witty, headstrong, beautiful, creative, inquisitive and full of life. There will be no challenge in this world that you won’t boldly face, and my only fear is that the world won’t be able to keep up with you, dear one. And God bless the sweet man whom you choose to marry. He will be the luckiest and most loved man on earth…and his life with you will never be boring.
At two years old, you are filled with so many likes and dislikes. You love to read. It’s your favorite thing in the entire world. You love to draw (babies, mostly), and pretend to write your name constantly. You adore dolls and dogs and bubbles. You are eager to ride your sister’s bike and scooter, and you are fearless. You want to be outside at all times, and I don’t blame you; there is a great, big world out there calling your name. You would swim everyday if I would take you. You love Play-doh, princesses and “Stella and Sam.” All you want to eat is cheese, eggs, pancakes, bagels bananas, Larabars and smoothies. In the middle of each night you cry out for food — for milk and a “bana” (banana) most of the time. You hate getting your hair washed or brushed or put up. You would be naked every minute of every day if we let you, my wild one. You want to do everything yourself and have a fit if we try to hurry you along. When you don’t know how to do something, you want us to show you how, then undo our work and then let you have a try. Getting into the car is now a part of our schedule because you refuse to be lifted in anymore; you have to climb in yourself, and it takes a lot of effort for your short little legs to get up there.
Everything about you is big, Kit. Your emotions, your expressions, your ideas, your words…you do nothing halfway. Everything is go big or go home, and you always choose the former. These past two years have been such a joy and such an adventure being around you. You are an independent, determined child, and I love every inch of you and who you are. There’s nothing in this world that can stop you from doing what you put your mind to, and the best part is that you already know it. Nothing scares you, nothing intimidates you, and you always seems to know exactly where you’re going and how to get there. I am so thankful to be the one by your side as you explore this great, big world because you remind me to be bold.
Gosh, Cricket. I love you in a way that I didn’t even realize existed until you and your sister entered the world. I would protect you with my life, fight to defend you from every harm, give my life, my dreams, my means and myself away to make you happy and fulfilled. I would die for you, sweet girl, and I hope you know how deeply my love runs for you.
Tonight, as I lay there with you happily unable to move, the sun sunk lower and lower as we both stared at the ceiling. The orange glow on the walls around us faded to the blackest of black, and we laid there quietly, just enjoying one another. And then, in the darkness, you leaned over and kissed my chin. And then my nose. And my lips. My cheeks. My eyelids, my forehead, my jawline. An emotion arose within me, and unfamiliar one but a wonderful one. It was happiness and sadness and awe that made my heart turn violently within me. Your kisses said I love you, Mom. One day I will be old and gray, dear Cricket. I will need you to lay with me until I fall asleep, and each time you stand to leave I will tell you, “But I want you…” And in that moment I hope you joyfully sit by my side and enjoy the sunset as I slowly slip into slumber next to you. I hope you kiss my face again then, too, little one, and that I am able, even in my old age, to remember how wonderful it feels to be loved by you.
Happy birthday, Cricket. Here’s to another wonderful year ahead, my love.
Mommy (and Daddy and E.V.)