Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Rambling Letter to my Daughter on her Second Birthday

My Lucy Jane,

You are two years old today. The harsh weather vacillations of the past few weeks seem to have broken today, and we are blessed with a glimpse of a true, crisp spring.  I know the weather was much the same on the day you were born, but only because we were told so by friends who visited.  You were born in the crisp,cool morning, at 8:26am exactly, after a long sleepless night and another one before that.  But the weather must have been warmer than it has been this year, because I remember walking with your father around midnight the night before the night before you were born, trying to hurry you along.  We were in short sleeves even so late at night, and we stopped to pick some spring flowers from a bush to remember that last calm night together.  I thought I would be holding you by morning,but you were stubborn, as ever, and took another day to decide whether or not you would join us.

We were very tired by the time you decided to be born.  Your labor and delivery was an experience that I am sure will foreshadow our relationship for the rest of our lives.  I had a very specific plan in mind concerning how it would go and what I would and would not do.  Then after two days of labor that plan blew out the window along with my expectations. Your skull kept digging into my spine with every contraction, and you were already too low down to give the process any help, so we decided to help you along a little.  I knew that if I was going to push you out myself we needed to get some rest, so I cut off the pain around 2am and we tried to sleep.  Well,we tried to sleep as much as we could when someone comes in every two hours to“see how far along you are.”  For two days we had been disappointed by a continual lack of progress, and so we expected this new stage to go on much longer, to need more time for the medication to push you along.  Imagine our surprise when at 8am our midwife told us that we were ready to push.

“Oh,” I said, “so that’s what that feeling is.”

Once you make up your mind to do something, my Lu, you don’t back down until you have seen it through. If you want to climb to the three story slide at the big kid park, you will wrestle in line with the ten year olds and work for days at climbing ladders until you can get to where you want to go. I can’t tell you the number of times I have turned my back for an instant or gone into another room for a minute only to turn back and see you at some new level.  On top of the table or the counter.  On the third level of the bookshelf.  On the back of the couch.  You look at me and exclaim, with no small amount of pride “I climb up!” 

Your delivery into the world was no different.  The midwife and her team started to get ready for you at 8:00am.  You were out twenty six minutes later.  Looking back on those moments now, I can hear your little voice in my head shouting the way you do when you are grabbing your life in both little, grubby fists.  You go full speed, shouting “I’m running!” or “I’m spinning!” or “Mama I’m climbing!”  I laugh, and imagine you in my head calling out “Mama, I’m being born!”

I remember that when they gave you to me everything was silent, and all I could think was “Finally finally finally this is our little girl.  This is Lucy.”  I know you cried, but I can’t really remember you crying right then.  You looked at me, and from the first day you were born you knew how to look, to really look.  You stop, and focus, and see.  The midwife caught you out and put you directly on my chest and you looked up at me, and rarely in my life have I ever felt more seen than I did by you in that first moment, your eyes just squinting open to the new, brighter, colder world around you.

And rarely in my life have I ever seen, have I ever looked, as I did in that moment.  I looked at you for the first time and I saw more than I ever thought could be contained in such a small form.  You were a tiny baby, your perfect little body covered in the blood and fluid that marked your battle into this world.  You were a shriveled old crone, your steely blue eyes holding all the wisdom and sorrow of more than one lifetime though you had only just begun your own.  You looked up at me, uncomprehending of the vast transition that had just taken place, and full of every possibility that exists in our world.

I have loved getting to know you over the last two years of your light bringing life, and cherish every moment that I have been privileged to care for you.  Well, almost every moment.  Some moments I regret not being more patient with you in your transition into this world.  Some moments I lamented not being able to speak your language of infant cries and cues well enough to keep you from wanting anything.  And some moments I know you were just being a stinker and testing me to see how far you could go in your adventure to discover yourself as an independent person, so I don’t regret being firm with you in those moments. You have always had an impish grin that gives you away when you are feeling…spirited; your part-pixie smile.

Some parents might say that there is really not a lot to be proud of in a two year old, but I don’t feel that way.  Lucy Jane, you teach me new things every day, about you and about myself.  I am proud, not just to be your mother, although I do give myself pats on the back about that every now and then.  I am proud of you for who you are already, for the kind, loving, courageous and smart little girl you are becoming.  Except when you throw sand at people or scream yourself red when someone touches your favorite baby doll.  Then I am less proud and more horrified, but it soon passes.  You show the signs of developing compassion and empathy, which is rare in adults let alone toddlers, and every time you put your little hand on my cheek and ask me “you ok?” or tell me “don’t be sad mama,” my heart grows a little bit larger.

Your father and I talk a lot about what kind of parents we want to be, about what we hope for, for you and for our family.  We try not to have too many expectations for you, so that you have the space and freedom to become your own person without the fear of disappointments.  We joke about wanting to do nothing but raise a drug free, adult virgin, joke about the convents we have picked out for you, and a number of things that hold a kernel of fear for us as parents looking at you growing older and wiser and more independent every day.  We joke too, but are really serious, when we tell you that we do not care if you turn out straight or gay, and just hope that you find love in this world.

Underneath our joking and our laissez-faire style, all we truly hope for is for you to be happy, to be kind, to love and above all to know that you are loved.  I think if we can accomplish that, then we will not have failed at parents, no matter where your choices lead you.

Thank you for sharing these last two years with us, my little bear.  I cannot wait to know you in the years to come.



  1. Beautiful, Crystal. Happy Birthday, dear Lucy!

  2. Happy Birthday a little late, Lucy!