Today you are two. I could regale you with stories of how perfect your birth was. It was. I could wax poetic on what an incredible joy you’ve been since you took your first breath. But the truth is that in the grand scheme of your life this birthday is arbitrary. You won’t remember it. I contemplated not throwing you a party. It’s a lot of work and you don’t yet know you’re supposed to have one. I remember my first birthday party (as I have a freaky good memory) and then my fifth. I don’t remember my second. I’m not even sure if I’ve ever seen pictures of my second birthday party. You see, you won’t remember your second birthday.
But I will.
Two is the beginning of the end. At two you are still a baby. At two you’re in a diaper. You still sleep in a crib. At two you’re still at my breast from time to time, popping off to speak in broken sentences. “I ride horsey!” you exclaim over and over at bedtime after your first pony ride at a pumpkin farm. “Bonk head?” you inquire when someone seems injured. “Kisses!” you giggle as you play the game of grabbing my arm on the changing table to kiss my hand over and over.
You my dear are a wonder, and still my baby.
Next year you will be three. Three year olds speak in full sentences, use the potty, sleep in big kid beds and generally, are total assholes.
So there will be a party. We will celebrate you, my girl, because you deserve to be celebrated. Over the last year we have watched as your personality has slowly emerged. As of today I have already come to some conclusions about who you are:
You love deeply and are deeply possessive of your people. In fact, deeply seems to be your adverb. On a recent visit to meet family you latched onto my cousins as if you already knew them. You threw yourself into their laps. You lifted your shirt to feel the skin of your belly pressed against the skin of my cousin’s bare leg. You adored intensely; you couldn’t get close enough. As you maintained deep eye contact with my cousin he remarked “She’s looking into my soul.” You are a soulful child for lack of a better word.
I would tell you that you get this from me, but you get it from your Daddy too. We know how to “shoot the shit” with the best of them, but your father and I grow weary with the surface. We like to dive in, some may find us abrasive, crass, blunt, but we like to get to the heart of things. This is the reason we fell in love.
It is the reason you exist.
I’m sorry to break it to you my dear, but at times the world isn’t going to feel real enough for you. You’re going to want to dive deep but often the waters will be too shallow. We will be here for you with warmth and laughter, because that’s another thing you do best. As your Grandmother said of you, “Baby girl knows how to clown!” You are damn funny already and we couldn’t be more proud. You come from a very long line of wise asses, stand-up comics and storytellers on all sides of this crazy family. You love to sing and dance, our little performer. You are the only baby I’ve ever met who tricks their Mama by pretending to wake up. I hear you on the monitor and enter your room only to find you still laying down, stifling laughter while you squeeze your eyes shut and tell me, “I seeping. Shut off light.”
This year I’ve slowly come to the realization that you have my body. Perhaps it is just because I have the body shape of a toddler. Perhaps you still have hope to grow long and lean like your Daddy, but I see the way you love food. You love it the way I do. I see your little legs and ankles and I see mine. One day you might hate your body for not being what you see on TV and in magazines. You might look at me walking down the beach and feel anger the way I felt toward my own mother when I was a teenager. You might hate me for passing on these “bad” genetics. But honey they aren’t just mine. They are your Grandmother’s. They are my Nana’s. But you want to know something about my body? It made you. It attracted your handsome Daddy. It grew you, and birthed you, and fed you. It cuddles you. One day the warmth of your body will be home to some little child (should you so choose). You look like me baby, and I’m not sorry about that.
Today you are still my baby. I will wake you and turn on the light against your request. I will lift you from your crib and you will point and demand “Bankie, bankie” for your blanket. You will snuggle your little head into me and smell my neck while sucking your thumb, your blanket balled into your chubby fist. I will read to you in the rocking chair still in your room. I will change your diaper and feed you breakfast in your highchair. Tonight we will make a special dinner and sing you “Happy Birthday.” You’ll practice blowing out a candle on a cupcake in preparation for your party this weekend. I will try to stop and soak it in. Soon the winter will come, the days will pass and we’ll find ourselves here again. There will be other cakes with more candles. There will be other parties and different friends. But this my darling will be your last birthday as a baby, and you won’t remember it.
But I will. I always will.
Forever and ever, I love you. Happy Birthday Buggy.