Dear Beatrice Elaine,
You are one.
Today, under a canopy of brightest blue punctuated by clouds of white, you stood on your own in the middle of the sea of grass that is your yard. You smiled, laughed, at your proud accomplishment, giddy with the sense of how big the world was around you. You are leaving babyhood behind.
On your first birthday, you already had mastered quite a string of accomplishments: standing alone, two wobbly steps in succession, a mouthful of teeth including 2 (almost 4!) molars to celebrate your momentous day, 5 weeks of eating anything I cared to share from the table, and climbing out of the basket in which you sleep. Your brothers, by the way, never felt any need to even try such a thing. But you are not quite like them, are you? Daddy and I are always looking at each other and saying, “Did the boys do all this quite so young? No, I don’t think they did!” You, in your very quiet way, are taking life by the horns. There is strength and determination in you.
A table of small, feminine things: my favorite.
You’re my little girl. Just by your tiny presence, wrapped in a pink blanket, you interrupted life as we had known it and demanded that we make room for a girl. Perhaps it was simply that fact, but you were the first baby to seem so much like a person right from birth. We hesitated with naming you too quickly, because you somehow seemed like, well, like you already had a name, and we were just trying to articulate it. We were delighted to welcome you as our resident princess, and to make room for all you would become. Family shapes us as individuals, and you brought a whole new nuance to the family we were.
You also brought whole new ideas about baby. I was flabbergasted to realize that you would, left on your own, simply drift to sleep for hours on end. You would let anyone in the world hold you. You would sit with me quite happily and just watch life. If life got busier when we went from two children to three, it was only because your brothers got busier: you were only ever happy and quiet. Taking care of you was like playing house. “Are you for real?”, I’d whisper to you, as you fell asleep with a smile, woke up with a smile, laid on the floor staring at the ceiling fan with a smile, ride in the car for hours with a smile… I looked forward to each evening, when I’d put the boys to bed and then just stare at you for an hour or more. You were beautiful, and you quieted my heart. A gift.
The boys love you immensely, and have from the beginning. They still talk to you in sing-song baby tones, and fall over themselves trying to help get your bib, your highchair, your barrette — anything to take care of you. They oooh and ahhh over your pretty dresses and sweet shoes, and making you laugh is one of their greatest delights. You are very generous with your laughs, of course. You’re the first of our one-year olds to be so celebrated by their siblings: the boys had already made you cards and tied ribbons on their very favorite stuffed animals by the time you woke up yesterday, and you were greeted with an overwhelming chorus of Happy Birthdays — uttered along with plenty of jumping, dancing, hugging and kissing. I love watching you three smile at each other.
You’re Daddy’s girl, and you will do anything to get his attention when he walks in the room. Fake laughs, fake cries, silly faces, crawling over his laptop — anything. He can get more giggles from you than anyone else can, and when he scoops you up and takes you on an errand, your smile says that you feel like the most special girl in the world.
Oh, how I love you! My heart aches, wanting to go back and do this past year just one more time. Every single moment with you has been a delight. Now we’re moving towards Little Girl years, and while I’ll cherish memories of brand new you, I’m so excited to learn more about you and teach you more about Jesus. You were born just as the first traces of pink were lighting the sky, vanquishing the darkness of night. And you, Bringer of Light, will continue to do just that as you walk through life. You will bring laughter, strength, joy, and determination — but most of all, you will bring light to those who walk in darkness. And I’m excited to see that.
I feel so blessed and honored to have you to care for.
I love you forever,