I watch you crouch down, your tiny new glasses sliding down your nose. There’s still the slightest hint of fat wrinkles around your wrists and forearms, the sweetest testament to the baby you were and child you are becoming. You squat effortlessly, with the grace and flexibility that only a (nearly) two year old has.
As you do, you peer intently, pensively, at something. A bug, a stick, a flower; there is no end to things that capture you and make you wonder. You glance up at me, once, twice. You point, words and babble falling out of your mouth and I grin back at you, captivated yes, but by something else entirely.
In you, my sweet girl, I too could marvel all day long.
I could spend hours inspecting your ridges and planes, the way the light plays off of your hair, the shape of your lips when you sleep, the sweet cadence of your voice as you squeal “Daddy” when he walks through the door. There were days, weeks, months that passed in a blur, marked simply by the heaviness of a tiny babe on my chest, a little fist clenched around my finger.
I remember perfectly the look on your Daddy’s face when you were born, the day you met my momma, slept through the night, ate your first avocado, got your first bloody lip. I’ve held you through first shots and football games, funerals and airplane rides. I’ve been privileged to witness the first roll over, the first crawl, the first steps. It was my name, “momma” you were first able to speak, followed quickly by “daddy” and “thank you” and “more” and “please.”
Do you know what you’ve done for your Daddy?
You’ve shattered him, in the most beautiful and refining way. I’ve watched him fall in love with you more and more everyday. He’ll do anything to make you laugh and smile. He loves your growing vocabulary, the pleasure of watching your mind put the pieces together. He works so hard to let you grow and explore and be brave, but there is no one quicker to race to your side and grab you up when the world does sneak in and hurt you a bit.
You anchored both of us, sweet girl, when we didn’t even know we were going to need saving. You were a gift to us, to me, in the darkest storm of my life. Losing your Nana, my momma – there was nothing that could have prepared me for that. But equally so, there was nothing that could have prepared us for you.
You have brought us delight when we could have despaired. You have given us joy when there was so much pain. You were and are life, a breathtaking reminder of the goodness of our Jesus and the sweet privilege of another hour, another day, another year.
– – – – –
Today, I peek down at your tiny little hand nestled in mine. It’s Sunday morning and we’re at church, praising our Jesus and patiently awaiting the arrival of our new baby. You stand there, hand-in-hand with me and your Daddy, and I can’t help but be grateful for one more morning of just the three of us.
You are growing up, as you should. Our family is growing up, as it should.
Really, life is just changing, as it does.
A part of me wants to apologize for what is coming, but I won’t. I can’t apologize for new life, for growth, for the honor of being a momma to your baby brother or baby sister. They’re a gift, a precious gift, just as you are.
But as I squeeze your tiny hand, I can promise you that I won’t forget this.
I won’t forget how you changed my life, how that first tiny breath irrevocably and completely altered the course of my days.
And perhaps tonight, or tomorrow, or next week, our sweet baby will show up and none of us will ever want life any other way. I can only imagine how much I will delight in seeing another new side of you unfold, a big sister, a champion, a friend.
But for today, I will continue to marvel at just you, my first born, my precious girl. You are all things beautiful and good and true of our Jesus. And though you won’t remember these years as three, I will. They’ve been the most beautiful gift, for me and for Daddy and for you, and one which I will hold onto my entire life.
I won’t forget.