Two years ago, in the purple darkness of the morning just before the dawn broke, I was in the throes of labor, exhausted from a night of focused relaxation against the intense pressure of the laboring process. But I knew you were close, and I gained heart as the doctor told me that a few more pushes should do it. Just then, I heard someone in the room say that the sun was just about to break over the mountain, and I knew in that moment that I would be meeting you along with that sunrise.
Sure enough, just as the sun crested the dark rim of the mountaintop, I felt a rush of fluid and relief and endorphins and finally, I felt YOU as you were placed, healthy and round and pink and crying, on my chest.
And in that moment, I knew my life could never be the same, and that I never wanted it to be the same as it was before--
For now the world held YOU.
In my head, I used to kind of roll my eyes when women would get emotional about their kids getting older. After all, that's the dearest wish of any parent---that you will keep getting to see your child grow older, reach new milestones, become who they were meant to be.
But now I get it.
Even though I rejoice in your new accomplishments, I still see my baby girl, forever round and pink and tiny in my arms. Whenever I see old photos of when you were brand new and your hands mittened, or else learning to roll over with astounded eyes, or sitting up all by yourself...I weep and my heart aches, even though I'm not even fully sure why.
Perhaps it is because I know that as you get older, you are growing more and more independent of me; you are, with each passing year, growing ever closer to that day when you will no longer be my baby living under my roof full-time, under my constant supervision.
Perhaps it is because you are the most visible evidence of time passing right before my eyes, and no matter what I do, I can never, ever slow it down or rewind it or even truly replay it over and over again.
Perhaps it is because I want you simultaneously to be both the brand-new baby I fell instantly in love with the second I laid eyes on you AND the bright-eyed, curious toddler that you are now, with your hair blowing straight behind you like a flag as you run and run and run.
Right now, at two, you still love to play the hugging game, you have only recently graduated out of saying "co co" every time we say "cozy cozy," and you looooove to watch Toy Story (any of the 3, really). Your favorite way to spend your days is outside with cousins or your little neighborhood buddies, and you seem to make friends wherever we go.
And, like both your parents, you adore books, and you will flip through them over and over again every day, studying the pictures, pointing out objects in them to yourself, and even repeating lines out loud. Whenever I start reciting something that comes from one of your books, you will run over to the basket where they are kept, quickly select the correct one, turn to the right page, and look up at me expectantly, waiting for me to finish the story.
You are naturally obedient and will usually listen to us pretty well (unless we're interrupting you in the middle of something you really, REALLY want to be doing). You are good at being "soft" with babies and animals, and you love people who make you laugh, especially other kids. You are cautious and careful when trying new things, but you still aren't usually *too* afraid to at least try something once (and will often try multiple times, if encouraged).
You're a good eater, and you love pasta, avocados, fruit of any kind, tacos and quesadillas, pizza, peas and broccoli, creamed eggs over toast, and chocolate chips (plus many more things, as well). You never throw food, are great at cleaning up all leftovers that have dropped onto your tray and putting them into your bowl when you're finished, and you help to wipe off your own hands and face.
You almost always fold your arms for the prayer before meals, and you usually close your eyes and are quiet, too (unless you're "helping" us say the prayer or are pointing out some phenomenon passing outside, like an airplane in the sky, or shoving food in your mouth). You pretty much can recognize any picture of Jesus, although funnily enough, when a picture of Jesus was shown in nursery just last week, you excitedly identified him as "Daddy!"
You love to sing songs, and you already know the words and actions of many songs, including "Hinges," "Once There Was a Snowman," and "If You're Happy and You Know It." If I ever need to pull you out of a cranky mood quick, singing is often the way to do it.
Back when I was first married, I was scared to become a parent---scared that I wouldn't be able to handle the hard nights or endless day-to-day tasks or ultimately, the patient teaching and the showing (by example) the way to become the best version you could be.
Although parenting can never be classified as easy, I'm sure glad that Heavenly Father sent you to me first, to show me that not only is parenthood something I CAN do, but that it's also something I love and cherish above all else.
Thank you, Raven, for bringing such joy and wonder into each and every day. Thank you for your sweet, loving nature, which makes it easier for me to become my best self when I'm around you. Thank you for being the sunshine in each of my mornings since that very first morning, sweetheart---
I love you and love you.
Happy 2nd birthday, sweetie!
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Today, You Are One (+ Thoughts on My First Year of Motherhood)