Before anything else, I should mention how much I love you. Not like I love ice cream or doughnuts right now or even coffee. I’m talking about that Mama’s love that aches in its insistence, blinds in its radiance, distracts in its omnipresence and overwhelms in its depth. How much my heart tugs in my chest when you let out a deep, raspy giggle, how a small but constant weight lifts off my shoulders when I see you after being away for any amount of time, how my hopes and dreams for myself and for you are so intertwined that I often can’t tell them apart.
It has been a rough season for you and me, little girl. At times, I question whether I was the best choice to be your Mama. Maybe I’m not wise enough for your independence. Maybe I’m not patient enough to reach you in your strong willed stances. Maybe I’m not nurturing enough to comfort you when you feel hurt or confused or misunderstood. Maybe it shouldn’t have been me.
It positively doesn’t matter, though, because I would not choose to be anyone else’s Mama. Not on the very best days,
when we laugh about beating up monsters and let the breeze whip our hair around swinging peacefully at the park,
or on the very worst days, when tears and tempers flow freely from both sides of this union.
You are mine, and I am yours. For the yesterdays full of chubby cheeks and napping on my shoulder, for the todays mixed of delight and destruction, and for all the tomorrows that may be ahead. I knew from the very first millisecond of your life that I was inextricably bound to you, that this new person had in every way rewired my soul to its own.
So before life changes in a monumental and irreversible way, I wanted to let you know that even though some things will never be the same—
how much sleep Mama gets, how many clean clothes you have at one time, the number of days we get to spend just the two of us–
the way I feel about you is not one of those things. That is constant. That is eternal.
Some of my favorite moments with you are the quietest, so rare in this endless marathon of energy and noise that is toddlerhood. I love doing puzzles with you. It’s one of the few activities you will concentrate on for a half hour, determined to finish the whole thing at one time and so proud when you tap that last piece into place. When I give you a piece, you study it, try it one way, furrow your eyebrows, turn it around, and try it again until it fits. I was so surprised to learn that you actually do have that kind of patience and persistence. It’s mesmerizing.
I hear “I can do it myselp” or “all by myselp” 219 times a day. You can go right ahead and thank your “me can do it” daddy for that little trait.
You love to have braids in your ever lightening curly hair, either one Elsa braid or two Anna braids. You are specific, and it’s unacceptable to give you a ponytail when you want braids or leave your hair in one braid when you want two. I’ve learned to take my marching orders seriously.
We still have Flapjack Fridays. You’ve started asking to help, so now you carry your stool into the kitchen and will help pour the pancake mix, milk and blueberries in the bowl. I once let you crack the egg. Yeah, just once for that. You’ll mix it a little and then scoot away to wait for them to cook. Though you’re extremely strong willed, you are very task-oriented and like completing a job you’ve been given.
You are so social, goodness gracious. If there are any other kids at the park, you can’t get to them fast enough. You’d be up for anything if I told you your friends would be there. You also like to call the shots with all those friends and have recently been referring to people, even little kids you met five minutes prior, as “baby.” Not like a little newborn baby but in a saucy, probably offensive way.
“Come on, baby!”
”Let’s go, baby!”
This is usually my cue to take a very important call on the other side of the playground.
You like dancing, singing, jumping, sprinting and twirling, all prefaced with an unending loop of “Watch this. Watch this. Watch this. Watch this.” I promise we are watching. Sometimes.
At this particular moment, your favorite movie is “The Little Rascals.” You have a massive crush on Darla and don’t like “Panky.”
You’d live in a tutu and heels if allowed. Trying to put jeans on you is declaring all out war.
I paint your toenails and have, more than once, contemplated bringing you with me to get a pedicure. Maybe when you’re three, professional salon treatments will feel more appropriate.
You’re a lot pickier than you used to be when it comes to food, but luckily there are still a handful of healthy eats you like: fish, peas sometimes, avocado, chicken usually, bananas, eggs, peanut butter, blueberries like a fiend. And because you’re two and I guess signed some sort of contract, you must have regular servings of mac ‘n cheese and Cheerios.
I think you’re going to make an excellent big sister. While at the park with BeeMa the other day, she was telling someone you were about to have a baby brother. You mistakenly thought another little girl was talking about your brother when she said, “It’s icky.” She was referring to the slide, but you were not having any of that and told her, “My brother is NOT icky.” For all the worrying I do about how this transition will affect you, that story is singed onto my mind so that I remember not to shortchange my fiery, passionate girl. You are capable of nurturing, of defending, of bonding with this baby more than I could probably imagine.
Your brother and I will have a new, special relationship, of course, but I am so intrigued at the thought of your relationship with him. To see it spark, to see it grow and evolve, and to see it become one of the most meaningful parts of your life and your identity. I am a completely different person than I might have been because I am a sister, and I believe the same will be true for you, in the very best, beautiful way.
I know I always place the blame on you, but thank you for loving me despite my impatience, my tantrums, my mood swings and my refusal to share dessert with you. I am here for you after the toughest days, but you also come back to me for bedtime stories, for pretend “hot coppee” from your kitchen in the mornings and for kisses and hugs on knees and elbows and foreheads.
I’ll always be yours, Addison Brooke. When you’re a “terrible two,” when you’re a terrible first time driver, when you date a terrible boy that I despise, when that terrible boy breaks your heart and I break his terrible face, when you choose a terrible major or choose to become a terrible University of Florida Gator, when your own toddler is being downright terrible,
and when you suddenly have a terrible little baby taking up space in your house, your car, your schedule and your Mama’s arms,
remember that I am still yours. And you are mine.