Most likely, when you are expecting your first child people will congratulate you. Then, they'll predict that you won't sleep or eat or have a life that remotely resembles what it was before you had a child. Ironically, when you finally have your baby you'll wonder why no one gave you insight to how emotionally challenging parenting can be and how it stretches so far beyond skipping meals and interrupted sleep. You'll find yourself occasionally second guessing carefully made parenting choices, finding your best resource in other mothers and crossing your fingers that you're actually walking in the right direction in this wide open field of motherhood. You'll finally realize that no sleep actually means no sleep, and that not having time to cook means toast will be your new standard for a square meal for months on end. You'll learn that your life never being the same means you trade your Indie music for Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and your Yoga Journal for endless repetitions of Green Eggs and Ham. It might take a while for the weight of your life change to totally add up. A while as in years. Two to be exact. At which point you might plunk down in a heap of exhaustion and frazzled nerves with a two year old jabbering about mommy do this and that in one arm and an infant gurgling away in the other. Then you will smile a wide smile and nod a silent nod. Because your life really is this awesome.
Still, you may, as I did, spend two whole years discovering what no one could possibly tell me about parenting. Some of it may render you weary, but so much of it is the fill-your-heart kind. Like how no one tells you how your eyes will well with happy tears when you stumble upon your 2 year old daughter patting her fussing 3 month old sister on the back and telling her "it's okay, I'm here, Evie. Don't cry. I kiss it." They won't divulge that you will catch a glimpse of her grinning ear to ear, with that right eye scrunched up a tad more than the left in the way that it does, with her blonde curls glowing in the autumn sunlight, and you will suddenly realize how deeply in love you have fallen with your daughter. They may leave out the part about when you look at her and see so much of your husband and a bit of your father and still pieces of yourself in her that you truly feel a part of this great circle of life as you watch your own legacy of love stand before your eyes. No one tells you how guided each step of yours will be because of her, how everything you buy, eat, read, and do will be in part if not completely driven by her existence. No one can quite explain to you how quickly she will grow from a baby into so much of a little girl and how you will grapple with the speed of it and cling desperately to each bit of her even as she slips through your motherly grasp into this great big world.
Or perhaps they will tell you, just as my mother told me and just as I am now telling you and you might listen and nod as if you understand, but you won't truly, until finally, you are here.
Someday sooner than I'd like to imagine, you will tote your backpack and clever little noggin off to grade school, sling your beach towel over your shoulder and walk down to meet your friends at our neighborhood pool, drive away in your first car as your father and I nervously wave you off in the drive, and move away to college or whatever dream pulls you. Maybe you'll find your best match and start a family of your own. Even then, my love, even then when you are 5 feet something tall, have a full head of hair and no longer pronounce your L's as W's you will still be my little girl, and I will think of these first two years with you and remember with such clarity the joy, the challenge, the blessing, the personality of sweet, two year old you.
I will recall you eagerly emptying my shoe bins in effort to wear every single pair of mommy's shoes, be it heels or hiking boots, and how you cry when you face the fact that they are indeed "too tight" which I gather, translates to too big. How could I possibly forget you consistently and hilariously mistaking our cat's name, Carsi, for Carseat and our yoga sessions for yogurt sessions? I will cherish how you have a peculiar obsession with band-aids and practically wear them as accessories, most often on your forehead. I will remember how you love to hide in a game of hide and seek with your rump sticking out from behind the couch or the curtain and how I always pretend not to have spotted you, wriggling and giggling with your rear end like a diapered beacon in the room. I will sigh at the sweet memory of your personality, the songs you sing with such inflection, your infatuation with cheese and squeeze yogurt (which can substitute as lotion) and the way you curl up so eagerly in the fetal position with your stuffed dog under one arm and your baby doll snug under the other as I tuck you in each night. There is so much of you to remember. So much of you to hold in my ever expanding heart.
Today you are two. My whole world turned to color on this day two years ago and it hasn't faded since.
Every bit of awkward adjustment to motherhood is balanced by equivalent delight. Every second of every day that I hold blonde little you, life through these lenses is changed for the better.
Today, I smile a wide smile and nod a silent nod because two years with you really is this awesome.
Happy 2nd Birthday Emery!
Thank you for turning on the lights.
I love you forever,