The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Happy birthday, Julia

Dear Julia,

Once upon a time (you know by now that this is how all good stories begin), I wanted to be a mommy. I had to wait a long time for that to happen, though, and like you, I hate to wait. I waited for several years for your Daddy to decide that he was ready for marriage and parenthood. I waited for many months while we tried to conceive you. I waited for several more months for a medicine called Clomid to help things along. I waited for 9 long months of pregnancy, 56 unending hours of labor and 2 1/2 exhausting hours of pushing. And then, 3 years ago today, you came screaming into this world and my wait was finally over.

I remember those first few minutes that you were alive. The doctor laid you on my chest, slippery and screaming and I was so exhausted and elated and overwhelmed that it was all I could do to hold you in place. The nurse looked down at your face and said "oh my gosh, she looks just like you" and it was only then that I realized that I had no idea what you looked like yet. In fact, despite the fact that I already knew I loved you, I didn't actually know you at all.

I sure know you now.

I know that you can not be convinced to eat a single bite of a food not yet in your repertoire, yet you will lick virtually anything off of a beater. I know that you prefer to snuggle in bed for a while before you face the world in the morning. I know that you will drop anything at any time to have someone read you a book. I know that you say you like to brush your teeth but you really just like to eat the toothpaste. I know that you have an astounding capacity for learning, yet will not utter a word of what you know if you think you are being asked to perform. I know that you get really distracted when you need to go to the bathroom. I know that you automatically answer "I don't know" any time someone asks you a question, but you'll follow that up with the correct answer a few seconds later. I know that if you say you're tired, you really mean that you're bored. I know that you want to drink a whole cup of milk in the car after preschool before you start to tell me about your day. I know that you crave attention at home and anonymity everywhere else. And most of all, I know that you are secure in your world and that you never doubt your place in our family or our love for you.

A year ago, as you were turning 2, I wondered how dramatic the changes in you would be over the next year. You already knew how to walk and talk, so I figured that your growth would be more subtle, less immediately apparent. I know now that I was at least partially wrong. Physically, the changes may not have been so notable (sorry about that -- the klutziness came from my side of the family), but verbally they sure have. You were already speaking in full sentences a year ago, but now your grammar is nearly impeccable and you use big words, familiar expressions and colloquialisms as easily as I do. It's almost hard to forget that you're just turning 3 when you talk -- only your still-babyish voice and a few mispronounced letters give you away. (I love it when you mispronounce words because of the way you correct me if I guess what you're saying incorrectly. "This page is wight," you'll say to me and I'll guess several times what you mean. Right? White? "No, Mom," you'll answer. "WIGHT. It starts with an L. It's the opposite of dark.") Last year, I still communicated differently with you than I do with adults. Now I just talk. And you just respond. And let me tell you, it's really nice.

There have been so many other changes over the past year as well. You became a big sister and have consistently impressed and amazed me with the way you love and take care of your brother. It's been fun having you to share the joy of his "firsts" with -- you get as excited as I do when he learns a trivial new skill or tries something new for the first time. You started school and for the first time, you're a member of a community that doesn't include me. I have mixed feelings about this (it blew me away last week when I suggested we start working on learning to pedal your trike again and you casually replied that you'd been doing that for months at school), but mainly, I'm just intensely proud of how well you've acclimated and of how much your teacher and your peers seem to like you. You developed a real sense of humor and progressed from making me laugh with your innocent comments to making me laugh with well thought out puns and observations. You've also learned an astounding number of things and are on the verge of some pretty amazing discoveries about language, mathematics, geography and the way the world works. I have the feeling that you're going to be reading my birthday letter yourself come this time next year, and that both terrifies and thrills me. This time around, I know to expect dramatic changes and I'm excited to see how you grow in the coming year.

Three years ago today, just moments after you were born, your Grandma called my hospital room, eager for an update on the status of her first granchild's arrival. I was still full of emotion from the experience of meeting you that I answered the phone in tears. "What's wrong," Grandma asked immediately, fearing the worst. I could barely choke out my reply. "Mom? I'm a MOM!" I still tear up each and every time I think of that moment. Your birth fulfilled a lifelong dream for me. At that moment, it felt like the end of an incredibly long journey. Now I know that it was only the beginning.

Happy birthday, my sweet, wonderful daughter. Here's to another year of living happily ever after.

I can hardly wait.



At 3:48 PM, Blogger Piperdanai said...

Awwwww!!! No making me cry!!! :) Happy birthday sweet Julia!!!! I can't believe she's 3!!! Wow. . .it's absolutely amazing.

Very beautifully written too. I can feel the love and it just warms every inch of my body (and that's a lot of inches!). ((((((HUGS)))))))

At 9:48 PM, Blogger chichimama said...

OK, you made me cry....happy birthday dodie :-).


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