My greatest joy is witnessing your growth and becoming. And how you’ve grown! When you fall asleep on my chest, your 20 plus pound body feels substantial relaxing against me. Your arms and legs have stretched out, and I have watched the world expand to match you. Your hands can now clutch mine, eat, wave, point and reach for the sky with great delight. You have become a person with moods and a sense of humor. Your face moves from emotion to emotion – the best of which is a huge, bright smile that shows off eight newly cut teeth. Words have begun to come with your personality too – mama, papa, baby, cat, clock, bus and hi. You respond big to the world, and the world is generally eager to join in your enthusiasm. I have seen you draw out even the most stubborn New Yorker on the elevator or the subway. This outgoing nature did not from me. Be like your papa in this way! Keep your papa’s strong voice full of emotion too. And speaking of papa, I love watching you love him. The way you cry out to him with an “OH”, and then climb over anything in your way to crawl to him with great earnestness. You protest equally strongly when he disappears out the front door, emotion always close to the surface. I feel honored that you seek comfort in me then. I consider it the greatest job I will ever do to hold you in my arms when you cry. It’s an equal privilege to reflect your triumphs back to you too – when you climb up the stairs for the first time or say a new word or try a new food. For now, it’s more likely for me to be cheering you on than giving you comfort. That’s because your head is so hard – impervious to the various falls and bumps that happen throughout the day. Your head isn’t the only thing that’s hard. You are a determined little girl who does not give up easily. But you also don’t seem to fret for long when things don’t go your way. It’s a refreshing combination – this determination and resilience, like a tree that bends in the wind. I like this about you. I think both qualities are due to your curious nature. One moment: fully absorbed in figuring something out, the next: on to something equally intriguing about the world. So many people have commented on how engaged you are in the world. Right now you are interested in people, elevator buttons, eyelashes, water, keys, credit cards, necklaces, zippers, lights, clocks, airplanes, helicopters, buses, birds. I can’t wait to see what else will attract your interests. I believe there is a daredevil in you. Already, you sing to the sky when we push you high on the swings. You kick and splash in the water in the swimming pool. You scream in delight when your papa holds you upside-down. I hope that you will continue to be a food adventurer too. You delight in smearing the daily offerings around your high-chair tray, smashing things, rolling them in our fingers, testing a bit first before diving in, without fail making a big mess and then not enjoying being cleaned up. You don’t like being changed or getting dressed either, or having your nails cut or bows put into your hair. I have come up with games and songs to distract you. You’ve always loved listening to me sing; you freeze and concentrate on my face as if something serious were happening. Sometimes my stalling tactics work; sometimes we get into power struggles. I wouldn’t change this willfulness about you, though. Continue to know what you like and don’t. Continue to protest a bit too. In this way, you have helped me develop patience and how to calibrate my anger. It is never your job to teach me anything, just an added bonus for me when you do.
I have written this letter to you, because I am humbled to watch you slowly reveal yourself to me. I want to record my impressions of you, because they make my heart full. I hope you will someday read this letter and be able to see yourself through my eyes. They are loving eyes, intent on celebrating you on this day and always.