(Yeah, I wasn’t gonna use your real name but most of the people who read this already know who you are, so what the hell. Oh, and don’t swear. It’s not ladylike.)
I spend a fair amount of time on this blog talking about the challenges of raising you. But, you have to know I wouldn’t trade you for the world. To the CDC, you are 1 in 88. To everyone who is lucky enough to know you, you are 1 in 1,000,000 (times ∞²).
Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you. When I close my eyes, and I can still see the way you’d wring your hands together when you were hungry and waiting for a bottle. You looked like a nervous Greek grandmother, waiting for a girl late for curfew. I confess that more than once, Papa and I waited an extra 10 or 15 seconds to give you that bottle, just so we could watch your pudgy little fingers dance around themselves.
When we “fenced” you into your playroom, it took you less than five minutes to figure a way out by pushing a “drum” next to the gate to try to climb over it. I watched you silently as you worked through the solution — eying the gate, eying the drum — slowly inching the drum toward the gate, your furrowed brow betrayed by the slow smirk forming at the corner of your mouth.
When I leave the house, I love the way you say, “Bye, Mama. Have good time!” When I get home, I love that you run outside to meet me at the car. When I ask if you had a good day, I think it’s adorable when you respond, “Had a day.”
I will never forget the day I was telling Papa something sad while you were playing on the floor next to us. When I started to cry, you looked up and said, “Oh, Mama. It’s okay.” When I scooped you up off the floor, you patted my back as I held you.
I love the sound your little feet make as you shuffle down the hallway from your room toward mine, because it brings one of my favorite parts of any day — that moment that isn’t quite night but isn’t quite morning when you crawl into bed between Papa and me, ask for “covers,” and snuggle down beneath the blankets. I love the way you — just like I — need a blanket against your face and a hand or foot touching Papa. I love the way you suck on your bottom lip but yet manage never to leave a mark on it.
I love listening to the way you call out, “Oh, Spud!” from the downstairs couch when you’re trying to get your brother’s attention. There is almost nothing better than the sound of your laughter intertwined with Nate’s as it drifts from room to room in the house like breeze through an open window on the first warm day of Spring. I can still giggle thinking about the day you asked, “Where’s Spud?” When I said, “At school,” you replied, “That’s so sad.”
There are days that are challenging. I know you get frustrated when I don’t understand you. I know going to school is hard for you. I know sometimes your body and mind do not cooperate, and I can only guess what that must feel like inside for you. But, more days than not, Helene, those challenges are small compared to how much better my life is for having you in it. I love you — not because you’re 1 in 88, not in spite of it, but because you are me, and I am you.
Forever and ever,