Happy Birthday, Sweet Meredith.
We had a perfectly storybook day celebrating you, from the moment we woke you up to the night-night waves and kisses. I wish I could tell you all about it, but I have so many other things I want to say this month.
So I’ll summarize by saying that we spent the whole day together, Daddy, Mommy, Jacob, and you. There were balloons and a crown, perfect weather, a picnic, epic stairs to climb at the park, a fun shopping trip, lots of time playing together on the floor, and pizza and a cake-smash to do anyone proud.
You received a pretty new dress, jammies, and a toothbrush from Daddy, a hairbrush and hair clips and a dolly from Mommy, a set of stacking cups from Jacob, and a rocking horse and new crib bedding, too. More importantly, we celebrated you, and we celebrated with you, and you were completely delightful all day long. It seems you thrive on all this fussing over you.
Last month I wrote about how I’ve felt us bonding – how I’m growing more and more crazy about you constantly. This month, I feel the need to write you a proper love letter. Your first of so many, I’m sure, and I hope most of them won’t even be from your Mommy.
I love to look right into your eyes, and I love that you would rather look at someone’s eyes than just about anything else, even when it’s the look that says “Really? Really you just told me not to touch the potty?” I love that you love people.
I love your flair for the dramatic, even though Daddy and I have been trying to hold up a pact not to ever use that word towards you, so you don’t grow up thinking it’s not a lovely part of you, like if we were to say “Stop being so dramatic,” or, as I often catch myself, calling you “Drama Mama.” I love that in church when I tell you no and it makes you particularly upset you screw up your face and launch into a completely fabricated crying fest.
I love that your first words, copiously dispensed, have been “Daddy,” “Basketball,” and “Jacob,” in that order. I love that you love your Daddy and your Jacob, and I love that you’ve gotten to spend so much time wrestling with them on the floor lately.
I love how you give “sweet hugs” by resting your cheek anywhere you feel a hug ought to be administered, often a leg or foot if that is the closest thing you can reach. You are so generously affectionate.
I love how you and Daddy have a sacred bedtime ritual, never to be altered: He lays you down on your back, tucks your afghan around you, says “Snug as a bug in a rug,” hands you your tiny bear, gives you your paci, and then you wave night night and he blows you kisses while he backs out the door, squatting to see you through your mesh crib walls as he goes.
I love how you always get up after you’ve been tucked in and throw everything out of your crib and then stand crying until someone comes to right your world. It only takes once, and when we lay you down again you look at us peacefully as if to assure us that you are content now and you won’t bother us again.
I love that you have a sense of the way things are and ought to be. Our house tends to stay on the meticulously-ordered side of things and there’s one bottle of Purell that lives at the changing table that you always play with when you’re lying on your back for a new diaper. Somehow that bottle ended up on the floor at the bottom of the basement stairs the other day and Daddy found you playing with it, flat on your back with your legs in the air. Because that’s how you play with Purell.
I love how you love to imitate anything you see or hear, and how quickly it’s causing your vocabulary to expand.
I love how you love to point at things with your pointer finger, and how you giggle when I touch yours with mine.
I love how you giggle, too, especially when you are tickled by something your brother is doing, even when it might not be the gentlest form of affection.
I love our tongue game, how I stick out mine, mouth wide open, and then you mirror it back to me, sassy as can be, and I love how easily you forget everything in the world when you remember how much you love this routine.
I love the 6:30 a.m. dream feeds, borne of necessity when I worked a short job this month that had me leaving home before you’d wake, and continuing because you get more overall sleep that way and because I am attached to those sleepy, snuggly moments with you cozy in my arms, nothing distracting me from your beautiful face.
I love the way you crazy-dance with your arms when there’s music playing and I love how you clap your hands when we sing and I love how you hold my wrists and clap my hands for me if I start to clap with you.
I love that you are endlessly entertained by peekaboo in any form.
I love when you crawl Full Speed Ahead and your cute tendency to hyperventilate when you’re feeling particularly in a hurry.
I love how you live to climb stairs, climb furniture, climb people. It’s like you were made for this, and I expect someday soon you’ll be climbing cupboards.
I love how you still can’t climb down stairs because you love climbing up so much that as soon as you maneuver yourself, with our help, down one step your brain switches gears at the sight of the step in front of you and you just climb back up.
I love your determination in all things, and I love how intent you are on walking, how you take both my hands and charge forward, almost at regular intervals, as if you’ve decided the best method for education is regular practice daily, and now you are implementing your plan with great pride and enthusiasm.
I love how you seem so confident in your awareness of when you’re all done with a meal, and how you twist your little wrists to say so, and even if we ask “Do you want more?” in response, you stand your ground, sure of yourself.
I love the moments when you bury your head in my shoulder or grab tight to my arm (even though you have a tendency to remove little bits of skin) because you feel afraid or just need a good cry.
I love that when you are worried I’m going to leave you in the nursery you’d rather sit quiet and calm in my arms for ten minutes than listen to the voices of all the toys in the room calling for your curious attention.
I love your beautiful, beautiful eyes, and I love that for all the hours I spend studying them I can’t decide what color they are, exactly, but that there are hints of blue and green and gray and that most beautiful of all are the tiny flecks of brown, like punctuation.
I love your hair, golden, straw blonde, not white blonde, getting ever thicker, and soft as the day you were born.
I love your soft skin, and the shape of you, and the way you make me realize that physical beauty is a whole different subject than what our culture conjures–perfect proportions, style, fitness. Beauty is there in an elbow and the shape of a nostril and the touch of skin.
I love your mouth-open grin, the one as big as you: as big as your fierce determination toward the world and as big as your enthusiasm for it, and as big as the fun and the love that we have going around here thanks to you.
And for all this that I love, I find, strangely, that there is still so much I don’t know. I was baffled as your birthday approached, without ideas for how to make a day special for Meredith. What does Meredith do for fun? What does Meredith like to eat best of all? I feel like I hardly know, and as I fruitlessly attempted to plan the day I kept remembering the details that seemed so obvious in celebrating your brother last spring. So of course I worried that I am failing you in this way and that, letting you slip through the cracks by comparison to your brother, try as I do not to compare you two. I was thankful for Daddy’s insightful suggestion that we go to the enormous, sky-high park north of town for your birthday so you’d have enough stairs to climb that you could actually be satisfied. I’m so glad he is here to know you, too, since between the two of us we have a much better chance to love you well.
It’s still true that on this Second Annual Meredith Day I felt stumped about you, but as I reflected over the week I became content knowing that this was all part of the puzzle, part of God shaping you with what He chooses for you, into what He wants you to be, and he loves you much more than I do. There are reasons still unknown to you or me why God is crafting you by circumstance to be the kind of person who goes with the flow and enjoys what she can where she can find it. This is without a doubt a skill you’re developing, and I know it will be beautiful to discover the Why in years to come.
I love you.