Today you are 18 months and 10 days old. So much has changed over the last 18 months since I first held you in my arms, but one thing hasn’t: how much I love, love, love you.
I still say at least once a day that you are more beautiful today than you were yesterday. I still get giddy as I drive home and anticipate seeing you and Drew. I still love snuggling with you, kissing your sweet cheeks, and tickling your little tum-tum. I still go in your room every single night before I go to sleep just so I can see your faces one more time.
It’s so cool now to watch you return the affection. You give the best hugs, and while you can be stingy with your kisses, when you are in the right mood, you will kiss us over and over again. You can be quite particular about who you want hold you, too. Sometimes, it’s Mommy. Sometimes, it’s Daddy. I’ve learned to not take it personally (although I must say I cried the first time you picked your daddy over me).
You also are quite attached to your brother. You love to hug Drew, and just this week you have started saying his name: “Do.” Today, while we were out shopping, you went through the store calling for him over and over… “Do. Do. Do. Do.” So what if it sounded like you needed a diaper change; I knew what you were saying and that’s all that mattered! You also look out for him like a big sister should. When Drew’s messing with the TV controls, all your daddy has to say is “Emily, go get your brother before he gets in trouble,” and you will go over and start pulling him away. I sure hope this isn’t a glimpse into the teen years!
Let’s not rush things just yet. I think I’ll freeze time right here and now where the best thing in the whole wide world to you is a book and mommy’s lap. You love to bring me a book, and in the sweetest voice possible, say, “uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh.” That’s “up, up, up” for those of you less experienced in Emily-speak. And, I pick you up and we read and read and read and read again. You were fascinated with a Little Golden Book version of Mother Goose. We read that book at least 10 times a day—until in a tantrum, you tore off the cover. According to your Aunt Windy, you stopped screaming and started crying the minute you realized you had destroyed your favorite book in anger. Something tells me that even with the tantrums you have been nice enough this year that Santa will probably bring you a new Mother Goose book.
For the Christmas season, we added a couple of new books: Ten Christmas Lights and Deck the Halls. You make me laugh when you sing along with the “fa-la-la-la-la,” and you make me smile with pride when you press the button to make the Christmas lights come on as we read the story. Of course, we still read the old stand-bys: Itsy Bitsy Spider and Growing Foods. Although I know all the words by heart, you don’t let me cheat by flipping the page before I have read all the words. Oh, no. I tried that this week with Growing Foods and you quickly reminded me to go back to page one. It was okay, though, because I love to hear you repeat the words, especially cheese and banana.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love reading to you, and I never tell you no. But, your love of reading and your brother’s love of a mess make it tough for me to get anything done. I now know how my mama must have felt when she had babies hanging on her leg while she tried to cook or how some days she must have craved the quiet serenity of a padded cell with four white walls.
As much as I joke about missing peace and quiet (and clean and order), I have really relaxed so much in the past year. I am more tolerant of the dried-on food (both on the floor and on my clothes), more immune to the smell of poopy diapers (and rancid milk from lost sippy cups), more accepting of new food choices (including that corn dog you ate at school since I forgot to pack your lunch), more deaf to your ear-piercing tantrums (like the one in the store today over the gingerbread man). I may not make all perfect choices for you, Emily, but I do hope the sum of all my efforts as a mother is way more beautiful than more than my daily, individual, and imperfect ones.
Take dance as an example. I signed us up for a Mommy and Me dance class. I figured you would love it since you love dancing around the house. I also wanted you to do something I was never able to do—learn to dance. The first two classes went great. I bought you a tu-tu and slippers. We ordered you the recital outfit. And, then you decided you didn’t like dance. I took you two more times by myself, and both times, you screamed any time I tried to put you down. I “danced” (and sweated) and you clung to me. I decided to stay both times. You would eventually come around, right? No. Last week, I let your daddy take you. You would definitely do better for him, right? No. He lasted eight minutes before leaving. So now I am faced with a tough mommy decision. Do I let you quit? Or do we keep going and give you a chance to learn to like it again? Like so many things about being a mom, the truth is, I don’t know. Come Wednesday, I’ll make a (daily, individual, imperfect) decision. I don’t know if letting you be a dance school drop-out will set you up for a life time of quitting. Likewise, I don’t know that making you go to something you hate will make you resent and resist trying new things when you are old enough to really know what you like. Something tells me we will be okay either way. And, I want to tell you that no matter what, I always do try to make the best decision for you and Drew.
I feel like there is so much more I could say in this letter to you, Emily, so much I want you to know about yourself at this age. I want you to know how you are so good at daycare, how the teachers think you and Drew are the sweetest babies, how I love to see on your daily report that you were “happy, playful, and helpful.” I want you to know you have beautiful blonde hair that looks adorable in a side pony tail. I want you to know that you frustrate me to no end when you take your shoes and socks off in the car every single time. But I don’t get too mad because I am too busy smiling over the funny songs you sing. I want you to know you do the cutest, most enthusiastic sign for please that I’ve ever seen. I guess you figure even your signing has to be equal in volume to your scream. I want you to know that you “oohed and awed” over Cinderella’s carriage at Disney on Ice. I want you to know you have learned all kinds of cool baby tricks from your daddy like lifting your hiney for a diaper change and tapping your tooth brush after a final rinse. I really could go on and on and on…
Because each day with you is like unwrapping a big Christmas gift—one that I asked for, prayed for—but really never believed would arrive. And, then, when it did, never imagining it could be even more than I ever hoped for.
I love you , Emily Bee.
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