One year ago I posted a letter to my daughter on the blog, on the eve of her first birthday.
It’s hard to believe a whole year has passed since then. Today you are two years old.
I can’t really call you a baby anymore, can I? I mean, you’ll always be my baby, but you’re not a baby. You’re a toddler; a child; a little girl. You’re really letting us know that too – we can hold conversations with you. You answer back. You’re cheeky and pushing our buttons and you know what you like and dislike.
The newborn days; cradling you on the sofa as all you could do was blink at the big wide world; seem like a distant memory and a recent occurrence all at the same time. I could swear it was just days ago that we brought you home from the hospital, and yet it’s hard to believe you haven’t always been a part of our lives.
Looking back at photographs, it’s hard to connect our vivacious, bright toddler to the helpless newborn you were two years ago – but at the same time, it’s so obviously you. The most beautiful girl we’ve ever seen; it shines in pictures of you even from the very earliest stages.
You are cheeky, mischievous and prone to tantrums. You’ll refuse to eat foods that you loved the day before, telling me “It’s ‘ot” when it’s blatantly a cold sandwich, demanding chocolate when we’re trying to get vegetables into you; wanting food off our plates even when you’re eating the exact same. You can be a little monster when you want to; despite the ladies on the supermarket checkouts not believing that a demon child is hiding underneath that angelic smile.
But all of that is part of what makes you, you. The cheekiness is balanced out by your sweet nature; your desire to share. Your tantrums can be forgiven when you’re such a polite little girl; saying “thank you”, “please” and “sorry” without being prompted. Sometimes, when you sit sweetly with me, reading books or counting to ten (skipping eight, as always), or playing with Happyland, I can empathise with those checkout ladies. I find it hard to believe there’s a little hurricane inside that sugar-sweet exterior.
You’re growing up so quickly. Sometimes I want to slow down time; to grasp the little moments and hold onto them for a little bit longer. You’re teaching me to appreciate the smaller moments – not to rush from one major event to another, but to savour the memories we create from the smaller moments – reading books on a Saturday morning; colouring in on a Sunday afternoon; cuddles in bed some mornings. You’re helping me to take life at a slower pace, making every day count.
I’m so proud of everything you do. You amaze me every day – yesterday we read a book, and at the end of it you said “The end. I read the whole book!”. Daddy and I just sat there in shock, unsure whether we’d actually heard you correctly. He caught it on camera, so we listened again and there it is! You’re so clever. You impress everyone we meet with your sign language, your politeness, the way you speak like you’re so much older than you really are. You can count to ten (mostly!), the list of signs you know is growing every day; you’re even being indoctrinated into the ways of the geek (“Star Wars” is your latest phrase, courtesy of Daddy).
The world has been a scary place lately, sweetheart. I wish I could make it a safer place for you – I wish I could say, with any kind of certainty, what sort of place the world will be when you are older. For now, all we can do is stick together as a family, and teach you to be responsible and kind and honest and good. I never want to raise you to fear the world, or to be afraid of what humanity is capable of. Sometimes it’s easy to think that the world is full of evil, dangerous people – but Daddy and I are trying to raise you in the way we try to live. See the good in everybody – it’s always there, even if you have to dig very deep – and make sure that it’s easy for others to see the good in you.
What does this year hold for us? Who knows! You’ll be a flower girl in December at our wedding – I’m so excited for us all to share a surname. One year ago, I could never have imagined how wonderful you’d be today – I know that by this time next year, I’ll be just as amazed by how incredible you are.
We love you, and always will. Happy birthday, sweet potato.
All our love, Mommy & Daddy.