Just over a month ago, you became a big sister. To a little sister. And you aren’t just big in stature, my sweet thang. Your mere personality is the epitome of big. And I must admit that the terrible twos have landed. In your growing-taller body, to be precise. It’s not so much that you are terrible as a two year old, but that the two’s are terrible to you. I mean, they torment you with their ultra-sensitive ways, their testing of boundaries, their inconsolable and unpredictable tantrums, their lack of patience. And the way they make you move right into Meltdown City when Daddy accidentally removes the wrapper from the string cheese stick? Oh yeah, they are definitely terrible to you.
I think it’s hard for you to keep up with the rate in which the two’s ask you to learn new things, and to handle new ideas. It’s not easy the way they grab you by the hand and swim you into new, uncharted worlds, diving deep and floating carelessly. It must seem scary at times. You are always safe with me. My girl, I maneuver these two’s with you, trying like mad to stay with you, wherever you are in that instant; support you, listen, understand, surrender. Yes, it is also tough for mama as well. The two’s butt heads with me, raring up in my face, taunting me to a challenge, putting up their fists as if to defend and strike all at once. I don’t know whether to give up, keep on fighting, or move around the ring just ducking and hoping they don’t notice my weaknesses. I think I probably do a little of both, each and every day.
I haven’t written much to you since you became a big sister; a task, I might add, you’ve taken on with surprising grace. First of all, I love you more than a heart can fathom. Having Indi in our lives just reinforces that love, makes it as big as your personality, as fierce as those “two’s”. Then, when I held you for the first time after Indi was born, I was hit with the realization that you are no longer a baby. I felt as if I’d been punched in the gut for a moment, my breath stuck in my throat; how could it be that you grew before my eyes, sprouting up as quickly as the lily in my mama’s garden? How could I not have noticed? Could I – need I – relinquish my ideas of you as this tiny new child, still able to nestle within the safety of my arms? And tonight, I cradled you again in my arms, stroking your newly cut hair and kissing your tender brow, and spiraling into your chocolate eyes. And my gosh, I was reeling from the emotional overload of that moment and of all of the moments that led up to it. You were the first child my womb knew how to grow and protect and birth. And what a fine job it did. “My baby”, I whispered to you “ You will always be mama’s first baby”. You looked up at me without a word, the corners of your mouth turned slightly in a knowing smile.
But, you are two now and I’m still wondering where the years went. Years with an “s”, how can that be? You were a newborn for only an instant and then your knees gave way to crawling and your legs to walking. And suddenly, you weren’t mine to sustain wholly with my body. Suddenly, I am asked to still myself, quiet the mama-critic who says I need to parent you this way, and raise you that way, and watch out for all the scary things you could do or become. Instead, I try to open myself up to the magic of you, however messy and crazy and utterly outrageous it can be at times. And just when I throw my arms up in the air in desperation, you find a way to climb your way back into them and melt with me. You find a way to bring me home. Because remember, once we were one? Once, “we” were home.
Your imagination continues to flabbergast me. I’m sure every two-year old does these things, but it’s new to me and it’s incredibly endearing. I watch as your farm animals become part of a wild jungle, your cars race around the table, and your babies receive the most nurturing love in the whole wide world. Sometimes, your imaginative worlds collide and it’s even more amusing to see your unclothed baby putting your plastic buffalo to sleep in the back of your metal, miniature old Ford pickup truck.
And you sing…while the words aren’t quite right, the melodies are spot on. You say complete sentences now, which still shocks me that you can verbalize your thoughts and emotions. I struggle to decipher exactly what you are saying at times, but you are remarkable in your persistence for me to understand. You have a memory like a steel trap, so much so that I only have to show you or tell you something once and it’s forever sealed into your mind. Words are precisely regurgitated, names exactly recited, and processes perfectly repeated. You love talking on the phone, often ordering me to dial the phone with “I wanna call <insert name here>”. You tell the lucky person on the other end about the airplanes you see, and how you visit you friends and go swimming, and that you have a baby sister. And then your goofy Uncle Billy coerces you to repeat things like “I eat boogers”.
You are kinda-sort-maybe thinking about learning how to go poo-poo and pee-pee on a potty. But mostly we are just telling us when you have a dirty diaper. And – because naked is your clothing of choice – peeing on the floor a lot. Okay, and sometimes pooping.
Back to the big sister gig. Mostly, you ignore Indi and go about your business. And I’ve decided that’s totally fine. Every now and then you try to gently cover her up if she’s sitting in her bouncy seat, or you tickle her toes when she’s on my lap. You are always first to hear her cry or peep, saying “Uh oh, baby crying!” Too witness your motherly instincts arise is such a gift. You have been so angelic in your patience when I’m nursing Indi and ask you to wait until she’s done for me to get your PB sandwich or turn the water on outside for you or make you “copcorn”. You occasionally get flustered when you want on my lap while I’m nursing Indi, a lap which used to be soley yours. I’ve learned how to balance both of you on my lap, nurse her, and read you a book all at the same time. And I know (really, I do) that there are gonna be rough times. We will weather them together, even if it means we are both turning to chocolate to self-medicate.
Last month, you got your first unofficial haircut, courtesy of Mia Rose. Your piggies were snipped clean off. You were very sad and traumatized by the quick incident, but I admit that your haircut looks quite cute now that we got it fixed at the salon. You look much more grown up and Daddy says he can see the nose-scrunching, wide-eyed, teeth-clicking, concentrated expressions on your face even more clearly now (this is a picture of you in the bathtub with wet hair).
This past weekend, you attended you very first movie in a real theater with mama, daddy, and Indi. You lasted about 30 minutes and then decided it would be much more entertaining to walk up and down the steps. Needless to say, we left early. At first, we were a bit confused and frustrated that you didn’t want to finish the movie. And then we realized that maybe it meant we were doing an alright job at this parenting gig; that movies don’t hold your attention much. You’d rather be exploring and playing. No problem…let’s just not spend $8 on candy and “copcorn” next time to do so.
You are such a trusting little soul, one of my favorite qualities of yours. But I have realized that I have to be very delicate with this trust. I have to follow through when I promise you something. No bribes or trickery for you, smarty pants. On the extremely rare occasion you don’t want to lay down for a nap, and I say “Honey, I’ll come check on you in 5 minutes”, I know that I really have to come check on you in 5 minutes. If I tell you that we’ll walk to the mailbox when Daddy gets home, we better walk to the mailbox. And goodness knows I must always make good on my promise to give you a cookie (I soooo understand this one, my fellow sweet toothed gal). I want to always honor your trusting nature. Will you help me stay honest?
Really, you are a silly girl who makes me laugh. When you want out of your bed in the morning or after naps, you call us out by our first names. You dance and jump and do somersaults naked. You put little sticks in your mouth and get on your hands and knees, barking like a dog. You color on the walls, on the toys, on the doors, on the patio, on the house, and on the coffee table. You make toys out of anything (today’s toy was raw potatoes). You love ritual and routine. You think strawberries and oatmeal are the bee’s knees. You worship The Wiggles and are attached to your Crocs. You have this amazing ability to go from a screeching, squealing 110% percent to curling up softly in your crib, reaching for your beloved binkys.
Also, have I mentioned your tenacity? You ask every single morning for your vitamin. And then you ask every single day – at some random hour – again for your vitamin. And then when I tell you that “you’ve already had your vitamin, remember?” you break down in tears. Every. Single. Time. I can’t help but laugh because this really isn’t like you. I mean, you act like a fish in an aquarium that forgets he’s already swam past that fake scuba-diving dude 2o times in an hour. But for you, it’s like you forget that we go through this routine every day and that my answer is always the same and that there is inevitable disappointment to follow. That must really suck.
You express yourself with total conviction. You are steady and unpredictable, calculated and spontaneous, vulnerable and guarded, salty and sweet. As your name suggests, you are grounded like the earth and as fluid as the sea. You keep my body and my mind in motion. You wear me out. You lift me up.
There is no one on earth like you. Or like the way I feel when I greet your bouncy little body in the morning and you hold your sippy out and say “More juice?!”
Yep, let’s rev it up, baby. Cuz when it comes to you, I’m reminded that this tired mama can always muster a little more juice.
I love you,