My sweet, beautiful girl,
Tonight, I laid you down, and you told me "tomorrow is my birthday, mama." We said our bedtime prayer, which ends "God is great, God is great (you insist we say it twice), AMEN!" You asked me for a kiss, and then a hug, and then to cover you up, and then for a kiss, and then for a hug, as you do almost every night. I closed the door behind me after hugging and kissing your brothers and turning out the light, and I breathed deeply as I realized that tonight is the last night of this year of your life. It tugs at my heart.
This is the first year you've shown excitement about it, after celebrating a few other birthdays over the year, your memory being much more acute, and feeling traditions take place as you and your brothers grow older. I'm excited for your excitement, though it's bittersweet to see you transition from baby-hood even further.
Darling girl, tonight, you're still two. Tomorrow, you'll be three.
I sit here thinking about how, growing up, I had hoped that someday I would have a daughter. In my mind, she would be a perfect, smiling ball of joy, with curly hair, and beautiful features. She would be kind and smart and so much more. After God blessed me with your two brothers, I felt it was my calling in life, loving them so deeply, to be a mom to three or four boys, and felt I would never have a daughter. I don't know why I felt this way, and it was bittersweet, but I was so sure. When I was told you were on the way, I didn't believe it until they placed you on my chest, and you were in fact my little girl. Every day since then, it has made so much sense that you were brought into our lives. I didn't ever imagine you would fulfill my dreams to precisely. You belong with us, and God knew it.
My heart can hardly handle another birthday. Yet another year has flown by too quickly, though, fortunately, the chaos in our lives has slowed down quite a bit, and this transition from two to three years of life with you is much clearer in my memory and I feel I was much more focused on our days together, enjoying them, savoring them, and cherishing them. Not that I didn't in years past, but someday, you'll understand what I mean when I say they were busier and harder and much more muddled together.
Not this year.
This year, I watched you blossom from a young toddler into a much more mature toddler. I've heard your vocabulary soar with countless words and phrases I have never heard a two-year-old use before.
I've seen your sweet little self turn a little more sassy, as I was warned may happen over time. I miss the days when I don't have to remind you to use a "kind voice," but I cherish your personality all the same.
I've seen you grow so tall, your hair so long and curly, your eyes so wide and filled with deep wonder. You've become very independent, but you still totter back and forth from being "big" and "little" where sometimes you want to do everything on your own, and other times you'll cry on the floor because you think you need to be carried. I'm sorry when I don't give in to the tantrums. It's not because I don't want to carry you, it's just that I don't want to fuel that behavior. I do, in fact, love that sometimes you still want to be carried, and I love the feeling of your arms wrapped around me as I carry you. Your brothers very rarely express that desire anymore, and I know it will be all too soon that you won't want me to, either. You use the most adorable phrase when you want to be held, as you tell me "I want to hold you," even though you really mean it the other way around.
I love that you still want to cuddle, sit on my lap, and snuggle in bed sometimes. I love that you still ask for a kiss and a hug when I drop you off at daycare or Sunday School in the mornings, and that you still want them both before bed at night.
I love when you call me "Mama" instead of "mommy," and I don't know why.
You've got an excellent memory, little lady. You know almost everyone's name at daycare and Sunday School, and you can recall the middle names, favorite colors, and eye colors of the people who mean most to you, assuming you've inquired what these things are already.
You love music, and art, the outdoors, and your blanket. In the morning, your favorite cat is Benjamin, but when we get home at night, your favorite cat is Lucy. They both love you, and they're so gentle with you. When you're sick, they are by your side. You recently developed a love for birds, and you proclaim it almost daily. You also love tigers, and dogs, and fish, and bunnies, and lions, and horses, and ponies, and unicorns... I'm sorry I couldn't give you a pet tiger for your birthday like you requested repeatedly. Someday, you'll understand.
You've surprised me and gone from wearing diapers full time to barely wearing them at all, and you're so proud of your big girl status in this area. While I'm grateful that the diaper budget has dwindled immensely and I don't have to change diapers all day every day, it's a reminder that you're not going to be little for much longer.
I love listening to you sing songs and narrate your play. You've such a bright imagination. I love that you will play with both of your brothers on a daily basis. They love you dearly and they make sure you know it. They are so good about building you up with positive affirmations and compliments. I hope you'll always remember how beautiful they think you are, even if sometimes they're not being very nice to you.
Baby girl, soon you will lose the remaining baby features on your little body, and become a preschooler like your brothers. I pray you'll take the days a little more slowly than you have been over the past year. I know you want to go to kindergarten, too, but you've only a few short years to be a tiny little girl. Don't rush through them, please.
I pray that as you grow older, you'll continue to be kind, gentle, intelligent, helpful, and hilarious. I hope you'll want to spin in a dress for years to come, rock baby dolls gently, and give hugs freely.
You light up every room you walk into with a smile full of sunshine.
I pray that I will always be able to remember the deep chocolate color of your bright eyes, the spirals in the back of your hair as they dry after bath, your dark, long eyelashes, especially as you sleep against my shoulder sometimes, the warmth of your tiny little hand as it holds my finger while we walk, and the jubilant melody of your laugh, among everything else about you.
I pray you'll always let Jesus in your heart, and show other's his goodness. I pray you'll be a blessing to each person you come across.
Miss Norah, you stole our hearts from the get-go. Cherish it as we cherish you.
Thank you for all of the joy you bring to this world.
I love you, Sweet Pea.