When your sister turned one, I decided it would be a neat sentiment to write her a letter, chronicling her first year of life. I blatantly stole the idea from a professional blogger chick I love to read. She writes her daughters letters every year on their birthdays, and when they get older, she’s going to give them the letters. They will be like time capsules, and I think her girls are really going to cherish those words from their mother.
I decided I wanted to do the same for you and Allie. Unfortunately, you were 3 years old when I made this decision, meaning I couldn’t start this letter tradition for you until your 4th birthday. Even though I blogged about you a TON, it makes me sad that you don’t have letters for your first 3 birthdays. Not to mention, I like order, and it is going to bug me THE REST OF MY LIFE that you don’t have a complete set of birthday letters.
I also hate that you don’t have those letters because I fully anticipate you using this fact against me when you are a teenager. I can picture us in an argument over how short your skirt is and how you will NOT be leaving the house dressed like that when you slam your bedroom door and scream, “You don’t love me! You never have! You never wrote me birthday letters when I was a baby, and you never let me dress like all the other girls! Ugggggggggh!” I’m tempted to go back and fake some birthday letters for you because I DON’T NEED THAT KIND OF DRAMA!
The last downside to you being gypped 3 birthday letters is, if I allow myself to go there, I can imagine you in therapy when you’re 30, telling the counselor that your mother loved your sister more than she loved you because you have 3 less birthday letters than Allie, even though YOU are the older sister. Frankly, I don’t want that on my conscience.
All that being said, I can’t bring myself to write you letters as if I had written them on your actual birthdays. It feels fake, contrived, and, really, I wouldn’t be able to do those years justice. So I am just going to write you one letter now, covering your first three years, and I hope you’ll understand how much your dad and I ADORED you then.
Like I said, I wrote a ton about you your first three years. You are a big reason I started blogging in the first place. You did so many cute, hilarious, wonderful things so quickly, I just wanted a way to capture them forever. I never wanted to forget a single thing you did.
I had an easy labor and delivery with you. And then life got hard. Usually, it is the other way around. But you wanted no part of “the norm”. I am not exaggerating when I say you cried for 3 months. The doctors eventually chalked it up to “colic” – a term that means they found no physical cause for your being upset. They suspected acid reflux because you seemed to hurt when you ate, and you spit up like a volcano, but no medicines seemed to help. When you were two months old, they even put you to sleep and scoped you to see if you had an ulcer somewhere. You didn’t. Whatever the cause, when you were 3 months and 1 week old, you shut off the crying and became the happiest baby in the world. I guess you just decided you were over all that screaming. Or maybe you sensed I was going to have to be sent to the loony bin if you didn’t knock it off. Either way, thanks for ending that madness.
When you were 6 weeks old, we did something very important. We dedicated you to Jesus. Essentially, your Dad and I promised God that we would do everything in our power to make sure you understand the love and grace of Jesus Christ, and how essential a relationship with Him is in this life and the next. Think of it like dedicating a song to someone. We were telling God that your life was for Him, and we were dedicated to raising you with that in mind. We promised this in front of our whole church, and Pastor Frey anointed you with oil. We all prayed together that you would grow into a child (and, eventually, a woman) that loves Jesus more than anything else. I am excited to see how God honors our commitment to him and our prayers for you.
As the first grandchild for both sets of grandparents, the whole world revolved around you. You captivated the entire extended family. We’d set you in the middle of the floor and just watch to see what facial expression you would make or what sound you might utter. I don’t think we watched TV for the first six months of your life. You were all the entertainment we needed.
Like I said, you didn’t much care for being the average baby. Whatever the baby books said, whatever the doctor said, whatever other babies your age were doing, you were not. You never napped. If the stars aligned just right, you would fall asleep for exactly 30 minutes during the day. Not one second less, not one second more. And, even then, you would only stay asleep if we held you the entire time. I don’t think you ever took one nap in your crib that entire first year. You also bucked the norm on that whole babies-stick-everything-in-their-mouths thing. You never put anything in your mouth. In fact, you refused to self-feed, even though we both knew you could. I’d like to pretend you didn’t get your stubborn gene from me, but by the time you read this, you’ll know otherwise.
My favorite thing about your first year was how you expanded my understanding of God’s unconditional love. When I think about how much I love you and then realize God loves me even more than that, I am blown away. I know I will never fully grasp the depth of God’s love, but having you has brought me as close as a person can come to understanding God’s father heart.
Your second year of life a lot of changes took place. The first changes involved movement. You were never in a hurry to learn how to crawl or walk. You enjoyed having people carry you around, and there were always plenty of people to bring you whatever you wanted. It wasn’t until you were almost 14 months old that you decided to start crawling. One night you just assumed the position and crawled all the way across the room. Your dad and I were shocked, as you had shown absolutely no interest in crawling until then. You had the same approach with walking. You never cruised furniture or stood independently. Then one day when you were 15 months old, you walked all the way across the room. Maybe this is the perfectionist in you coming out. Maybe you didn’t want to try until you knew you could do it just right. There is something to be said for having high standards. But don’t be afraid to try something just because you might fail. You never know what you are capable of until you try, and you never know what God is capable of until you fail.
While you were slower than your peers when it came to movement, you were light years ahead when it came to verbal skills. By the time you were 18 months old, you could communicate quite well. And you haven’t stopped communicating since. It was so much fun teaching you new words and hearing you practice them. Your mind was like a sponge and everyone commented how smart you were. You were very talkative and very affectionate. You’re a people person for sure, and that will take you far in relationships in the future. God wants you to love Him and to love others. I think that will come easily for you.
By the time you reached your second birthday, you were talking in full sentences. This was both adorable and exhausting for the rest of us. I loved learning what you were thinking about and how your mind worked. However, after the third round of 20 questions before 8 AM, sometimes I would lose it. I never meant to squash your curiosity; I just felt my sanity slipping away. There’s a balance there, and I hope to get better at maintaining that balance as time goes on. Just in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m not perfect. I lose my temper, and I let you down. But that’s all people. When you were two, I taught you about apologizing and forgiving. You were always quick to forgive. Stay that way; it makes life more enjoyable.
Thankfully, when Allie arrived in July, you were never jealous or upset by her presence. You genuinely loved having a baby sister. You always wanted to help. The first words out of your mouth when you woke up every morning were, “Can I hold her?” You often giggled as you told me how cute she was and how you liked her “little, tiny baby (fill in the body part).” I am so thankful that your love for her has not waned. As the older sister, you set the tone for your relationship with Allie. If you are loving toward her, she will adore you. If you are snotty toward her, she will feel hurt and retreat from you. I believe you will always make the better choice to love Allie, even if she bothers you from time to time. I am looking forward to the friendship that deepens between you girls.
You surpassed a few milestones while you were two. My personal favorite was getting potty trained. It was a long process, but you were fully trained before your third birthday. You also said your first cuss word that year. I blame your father. After several meltdowns, you got your first real haircut. But the coolest milestone of all was when you recited your first Bible verse. I can still hear you in the backseat after church one day saying, “God…..is…..love! First John……4…..8!”
I love you dearly, sweet girl. I hope this one ginormous letter makes up for my not having the bright idea to write you birthday letters until your 4th birthday. If it doesn’t, I can recommend a good counselor.