You grow more beautiful every day. What they didn’t prepare me for about motherhood is how it’s more than just your pretty features or the shape of your chubby little arms that is beautiful. It’s how white your teeth are – so white it doesn’t matter that they’re a little crooked. It’s how white your eyes are, and how they match your teeth and blind me with their beauty. And it’s not just your pretty straw-brown-blonde hair or your pretty brown eyes. It’s how your hair and your eyes are exactly the same color, and how when you wear a brown shirt I just can’t stop looking at you.
There’s a lot I want to show you about beauty in the next ten or twenty years: what it is and what it isn’t. How it’s achieved and how it’s not. More importantly than that, how it’s not ultimately an achievement but just a fact. You ARE beautiful. It’s not that your dress makes you look pretty. Forget the dress. YOU are pretty. Among the things I want you to grow into is this simple delight in the beauty God’s made for you. Those eyes and that hair and the way they match – that’s all yours, baby girl, and I don’t want there to be any doubt about it ever. Even if you’re a chubby pre-teen like your Mommy was or you get a very unfortunate haircut or your clothes just aren’t working for you or you put on 70 pounds with your first pregnancy. Those things can’t touch the fundamental loveliness you will always have.
And we haven’t even talked past straight-up physical beauty yet.
But enough about that for now. This month – Oh, this month. You are just such a little stinker. You have feist in you. You don’t really have a choice, since there’s that small matter of your brother. You give him heck all day every day. Also, you’ve started responding to correction or discipline with this little sassy-butt grunt. Of course, most often you can’t be bothered to respond at all. And your Daddy and I will FOREVER be telling you to sit your butt down in your chair. Then there’s the constant whining when you are trying to ask for something. You dial it almost all the way to tears sometimes but all I have to do is say “Merry, stop. Ask nicely!” and then you say “Pee!” for “Please” and your angry face is all melted away.
The climbing is getting more and more impressive. I think sitting in a chair is just too tame for your personality. Standing just feels right to you, which is why we have the “Sit down!” argument a hundred times a day. But it’s not just your chair. Today we were all in Daddy’s office. I was sitting at the organ with my back to you and Daddy beckoned me to look. There you were, standing on the arm of the sofa, holding onto the back of Daddy’s swivel chair, playing a fast and furious game of peek-a-boo with Jacob, oblivious to your grave danger.
A few days ago you were entertaining yourself by walking around the stone edge of the raised garden. Jacob was doing it, a bigger, stronger, wiser pair of feet. You were holding my hand and full of oblivious, cock-sure zeal. Over and over again I steered you from tumbling off the edge but finally you took a wrong step and I caught you just before you face planted on the edge of a brick. It didn’t shake you up, though. You went right back to it and wouldn’t let me stop you. Then you wanted to jump off the edge so I held your hands and you revved up for it (“Pop”) but as you jumped you stayed too close to the wall and the sharp, rough stones scraped the skin right off the backs of your legs. Sad, sad baby.
I did warn you. A million times.
Your other pastime of choice outside recently is dandelions. You pick them off right at the head and bring them over to Daddy or me one at a time, as proud as though it were a beautiful bouquet. Half the time they’re already in tiny bits from being squeezed in your little baby palm, but we thank you enthusiastically and you go back to get another.
I surprised myself this afternoon when I heard the phrase “Keep your pants on!” come out my mouth. It’s a colloquialism usually, but not today. Today I was literally telling you to keep your pants on. So of course we turned it into a song, probably to the tune of “Oh my darlin’ Clementine” and you giggled your heart out.
I’ve mentioned in the past that you figured out how to take your shirt off… Well, you are still working on this skill set and making good progress. Sunday night you were pattering around our friend’s back yard in nothing but your sundress since Daddy had taken off your tights so they wouldn’t get snagged. The grown-ups were sitting on the patio and suddenly we spotted you, stepping out of your diaper, which you had succeeded in pulling off your butt until it dropped to the ground. You enjoyed running around “in the breeze” for a couple minutes and seemed ridiculously proud of your accomplishment. Once again I feel the need to point out: Jacob has never done this in three whole years.
This month has been full of good times, including a trip to hang out with our dear Hils in Chicago, a visit from Nana and Papa and Auntie Bethany, and finally the arrival of glorious spring. We spend every possible moment outside. You were also very sick this month, spending a few days listless and cuddly, with a high fever. That was the week your favorite toy finally emerged from the pack, and your giraffe is now the love of your life. You love to walk around with his neck tucked under your arm, and all the better if your blankie is part of the picture, too.
You have an eye for giraffes and they always give you the giggles when you see them in pictures. You love to find the giraffe magnet on the magnet board and bring it to me so I’ll kiss it on the nose. The giraffe is definitely your special favorite, but that doesn’t stop you from kissing the rest of them, and bringing them to me for additional kisses. In fact, kissing is your greeting of choice. The other night we were walking a trail and a family passed us walking a dog so big you were at eye level with each other. Before I could even hold your hand you had marched right up to that “Puppy” and kissed it right on the nose.
When Nana and Papa visited for Daddy’s recital you got to go hear him play on a Saturday afternoon before the real thing took place on Monday night. You were so cute, running around the concert hall, jumping up and down the stairs. You’re really good at stairs, and your favorite thing is to hold on to a rail or a hand and jump down them one at a time. Usually you yell “Pop!” as you jump, and you throw your whole body into it. This word originated with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, one of your favorite stories. You know when the page is coming and your whole body gets involved in shouting “Pop!” as soon as it’s time.
You play trucks with the best of them and are even coming up with some impressive sound effects to match. You loved Jacob’s birthday fire trucks as much as he did. And while the concept of riding a bus had you pretty excited and your expression of glee as the bus pulled up to the bus stop where we were waiting was pure wonder, as soon as you realized we’d climbed inside that big box you started to scream. You buried your head in your giraffe and clung to me until we got back off the bus.
You want to do everything yourself (especially the stairs) and if I offer help that you don’t want you resist me and give me the snottiest little squeak. Today you wanted your milk. We were in the basement and it was on the kitchen counter. I told you I wasn’t ready to go upstairs quite yet and you walked away. I thought you were just going to wait on the milk but then a couple minutes later there you were, pattering down the stairs with your cup in the crook of your arm. I was so impressed that you knew how to find it.
I love your confidence and how quickly you’re growing into everything from playing on the playground to climbing (OK maybe not climbing) to drinking from a cup to talking. On Saturday I poured a little tea into some milk and let you drink out of a little tea cup and you were so pleased. And your words! It’s fun to see that you are quick to try new sounds. You’re even starting to string words together and today you tried to imitate Jacob saying “‘scuze me.’ You are also fascinated with the concept of a beep, and when you hear one you always repeat it, usually in the same rhythmic pattern.
On Palm Sunday we had a quiet moment and you came to sit beside me, something you do often. I took a moment to engage in that awful ubiquitous art form, The Selfie, but you wouldn’t sit still; you were too obsessed with my necklace, wanting to wear it. I love how you come sit beside me when you see me in a quiet moment, just because you want to do what I’m doing. I love how you snuggle – how you run to get your blankets out of your crib and then just sit down and cuddle them. These are some of my favorite moments of all these days, and they are teaching me so much about what’s important in life.
I love you.