Dear Emma Kate,
Happy birthday, Love. I can hardly believe you are two years old. Now, rest assured I said this on your first birthday, and I will probably say it for the rest of you and your sister’s lives. You and Grace just try to keep the eye rolling to a minimum and smile politely, if you please.
I still remember the moment you were born. It came a bit suddenly. There you were all tucked safely away inside me one moment, and then the next I was looking into your intense black eyes and stroking your chubby cheeks. All the clichés about love multiplying came true at the exact moment that my fears about being able to love you as much as your sister disappeared. I felt down right silly for even considering it!
Your first birthday was quite the celebration, but so many things were staying the same, that I don’t think I felt like anything huge was passing. As you turned one, you were still nursing, I still fed you your solid meals while you sat nicely in a high chair, and you still wore diapers. You had just taken your first steps on your first birthday, and you still weren’t sleeping through the night. As you turned one, you only knew a handful of basic words, your favorite toys were the ones that came from the baby aisle or the kitchen cabinet, you were still riding rear facing in your car seat, and you were still the quiet, passive baby you had been for 12 months.
This second year though, change has been the theme. You have officially exited the world of babyhood and entered the world of toddler-hood. Some days, I think you’re on the fast track to teenager-hood! I would like to exit the fast track, please. How is it that 730 days can go by in a blink?
In this second year of yours, you stopped nursing. It seems like once you weaned, you grew up in so many ways. I turned around, and you started feeding yourself all meals. “I do it myself!” has become a phrase heard quite frequently. Your little chubby fingers are quite nimble as you spoon your soup into your mouth, pick up your snacks, and handle your sippy cup. You still humor us with your high chair at home, but I suppose it would terribly embarrass you to be seen within 10 feet of a high chair at a restaurant. Plus, a high chair wouldn’t enable you to snatch the salt shaker or try to climb into the booth behind us. And, diapers are gone too. Your chubby legs now poke out of big girl panties! Who knew all that could happen in a blink?
Somehow, I leaned down to help you up after you fell after taking 4 clumsy steps, and you took off running, climbing, and trying to keep up with your big sister. I turned around to cook dinner, and you could sing songs. I folded a load of laundry, and you began talking.
It was simply amazing this past summer to watch your speech progression. Daily, sounds that you couldn’t say the day before began turning up in your words, syllables fell into place, simple words became phrases and sentences, and then I blinked and you were telling me stories about your day, expressing how you feel, and tattling on your sister.
While that rug was being vacuumed, my sweet, passive, quiet Emma Kate turned into Emma Kate who refuses to be told what to do by her big sister, isn’t ashamed to lay down in the middle of the mall to scream at the top of her lungs, and won’t let anyone or anything stand in her way. Though these times are trying, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. It means that you are becoming independent and assertive.
And, in the moment it took to run to the mailbox, your sister became your best friend. This was the moment I hoped for that first time I stared into your serious little face. You and Grace play with one another, sing together, imagine together, comfort each other, and love each other endlessly. Okay, so you fight, and argue, and scream at each other too, but at the end of the day, the giggles, and hugs, and I love you’s between best friends and sisters is unmistakable.
Though you have changed some things remain. They transcend the barrier of the memory and fleeting moments, and are etched into my soul. They are the “I wuv ew”s that escape your porcelain lips. They are the millions of hugs and cuddles that we experience. They are the feeling of your chubby hand in mine, the sound of “I missed you, Mommy,” and “Hold me, Mommy.” They are the serious look in your eyes that reminds me so much of your daddy, the way your hair falls down your back, and the way I have to search oh so hard just to find your pupils in your black eyes.
When I finally do find those pupils, it is possibility that I see. The possibility to flourish and become anything you set your mind to. I hope that you will always know how loved you are. First by Jesus, then by Mama and Daddy. I pray that you would allow God to guide you, and you will seek Him with your whole heart.
You are a beautiful little soul. I can’t wait to watch you share it with the world as a two year old!