Below is the letter I wrote to my daughter, the one I'd so hoped would be truth. And despite the outcome, there remains some truth. There is so much to say, but I can't wrangle the words. Instead, this is what I wrote the other day:

My sweet Lucille, this was not the morning to which I'd hoped you'd wake up. Our country is very clearly still living within the confines of a patriarchy. But - make no mistake - our knuckles have grazed the glass, and while we were unable to completely shatter that ceiling, there are fractures. Someday, my love, someday. Maybe it will be you. 

I sincerely hope I can pull this letter out in four years, and it will mean something in a way it didn't this year.

Dear Lucille,

Last night, Hillary Rodham Clinton, won the election and has become the President elect. At the turn of the year, Barack Obama, our first black president will end his tenure, and Clinton will become President of the United States of America. This is not a letter about whether I like her or disliked the man who ran against her. This, Lucille, is entirely about the fact that a WOMAN will now hold the highest office in this land. And that, no matter where you stand on party lines, deserves respect.

It is monumental.

Clinton’s road to the White House began long before you ever existed, and women before her have been quietly, and some quite loudly, paving the way for this very moment. We read a book called Rad American Woman A-Z, and some of these warriors are named. If you turn back the clocks you will find a remarkable reel of women that illuminate a bold future for you.

When you were born a female, a gender you currently express, you were born with an inherent set of challenges. Our culture places a heavy emphasis on the material, especially looks. According to magazines, and TV shows, and movies, and the pervasive noise that is our world, you will be judged, at least initially, on how you look. In your lifetime you will fight misogyny, sexism, expectations to be married and have children, rape culture, imposed body image assumptions, and a menagerie of double-standards. Lucille, I am working to arm you. To save you from the language of the crawl that has formed in my own head, the one I lived with, to something braver, something much more confident; we watch Wonder Woman and talk about how she is strong and saves herself. We read books about girls like Molly Lou Mellon who walk proudly while dismissing the judgements of others. We talk about the different shapes and sizes and colors of our friends, and how some families have two Mamas, and some have to Daddies.

The work of women is not done, my love, and we’re nowhere near eradicating gender expectations, but we are moving in the right direction. You and I are part of a gender history fraught with blood and toil, misandry, rape and murder  – but we are also part of a history bedazzled with the likes of Abigail Adams, Elizabeth Blackwell, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Nellie Bly, Bessie Coleman, Jane Addams, Amelia Earhart, Shirley Chisholm, Gloria Steinem, and now, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Today, another giant crack in that ceiling has formed, and if you tilt your face up to that fracture, my dear, you will feel the rain serpentine its way through and fall upon your cheeks like a kiss. As your mama, I can say that you, Lucille, can one day be president. That’s what this is about. Today is a day in history that will forever be marked by progress for the women in this country.

Whether you add your name to that very public list will be your prerogative. Regardless, I will love you for all your failures and triumphs, whether you are known or unknown to the masses. You won’t remember today, not by a long shot, and Clinton’s tenure as president, however far it reaches, will be a blip in your history. But we women will be watching, fully aware of the public misogyny and sexist rubbish Madam President will face. I, as a woman and your mama, will be watching closely, hoping that despite the politics and policy, she continues to forge a road for us.

Today, Lucille, I just need you to know that anything is possible. And I will reiterate that sentiment for the rest of my life, calling upon the names of these women who have come before you, as you encounter whatever challenges may be ahead.

Lucille, a woman is President.

A woman.


She's Three.

Dear Lucille,
Photo Credit: Horseshoe Hill Photography

Today you turn the magical number three. Three. I’m going to let that rest on my tongue a minute, and slowly digest this fallen snowflake of amazement because I can hardly believe how far we’ve come since your birth. Three is a lucky number according to the Chinese, partly because it sounds like the word that means life – and life, my sweet Lucille, is what you radiate.

You are a full-blown little girl who still loves to swing on the swings at the park and has developed a passion for riding the “carouself.” The purple dragon, on our favorite carouself, is your steed of choice. I’m pretty certain that if we allowed it, you’d eat “broccomole” and chips every day for dinner, and guzzle down chocolate milk (cut with regular milk: “…first we add the chocolate, then we add the milk, and that’s how you get chocolate milk!”) by the gallon. We still, every night, read two books, and I sing you two songs. The books are on rotation, but the songs remain constant. It’s always out of your favorite, four: Somewhere Over the Rainbow, You Are My Sunshine, Go to Sleep You Little Baby, and Hush Little Baby.

Over the past year your imagination has exploded, and I mean, really taken off. It’s fascinating to see you create scenarios with your toys, talking about where you and your “children” are going. You have named all your stuffed animals, and while some include obvious monikers of Piggie for a stuffed pig, there’s also Roberto (a dog), Dorothy (a unicorn), Becky (a monkey), and Margaret (a tiger). To date, Tiger, the original, remains your absolute favorite. You named your three baby dolls, Sara, Ella, and Audrey.   

Of note, you’ve also added to your extensive vocabulary, the most notable word being fucking. Yes, that’s correct – fucking. Your Dad and I are clearly the ones to blame, that’s no secret. I suppose we have to try a little harder in the potty-mouth department, but fuck damn, it’s hard. The good news is, if there is any concerning such language, that you use it in correct context, and only at home around us. That’s a plus, right? Frankly, I’m a fan of words (shocker), and I do believe words, all of them, have a place in our vernacular. When used in a well-timed manner, they can give power and punctuation to ideas and meaning. We’ve never admonished you for the use of the F word, because we don’t want to make it any more seductive than it already is. That’s as far as we’ve gotten on that front. Hold your applause.The end.

Music remains a constant development in your life and your current top three favorite tunes are, All Through the Night, Run the World (Girls), and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. Television shows include Daniel Tiger, Doc McStuffins, and Sofia the First. The most notable addition has been the 1970s Wonder Woman series. To say that you’re obsessed with Wonder Woman would be an understatement of gross proportions. The Wonder Woman outfit that Nana sent you is worn SEVERAL times a week. Just the other day, we were watching an episode we’ve all now seen twenty-two thousand times, and you looked at me and said, “Mama, Wonder Woman is going to save herself because she’s strong.” #momwin #wwscreentimeallday

My sweet Lucille, for all the good and growing you’re doing, we’ve stomped right into the treacherous land of Three. Your independence and need to do things your way is in full bloom. We are growing alongside you and are working hard to meet you head-on as these challenges appear. Sometimes following directions requires multiple redirections and the threat of taking something away, but in the end, more often than not, you make the right choice. Your energy is boundless, and we’ve recently enrolled you in gymnastics. You LOVE it. And I love that you love it. It matches your need to be physical and active, and provides such a wonderful healthy outlet. I don’t know if you’ll be doing this for a few months or a few years; I have zero expectations. My only expectation is that you enjoy what you’re doing, and when it becomes un-enjoyable, should it ever, we’ll reassess and move on if need be.

You are an undeniable and unavoidable mirror. It’s because of you I have had to learn, and continue to learn, to manage and reshape my innate temper and call upon the grace of patience and understanding. You are a chimera; a little girl with so many facets and faces, that sometimes, I’m certain breathes fire. Even when you are at your worst, my dear, I still love you with an explosion that is unrivaled. It is because of you I am becoming a better person. That I think about what I’m doing, and saying, more than I have ever considered in my life. And I’m learning to take better care of myself, an important part of being your mama, something I take very seriously. This world can be unkind to women, and I want to arm you with a tower of confidence, strength, and an awareness. I can say all the things, but if I do none of the things, then it’s all for nothing. You are watching me closely, and I know this.

Friday was your final day in the toddler room; you were Queen of the hill. On Tuesday, you will move to the preschool room, whiplashed back to the bottom. As with all starts, I expect there will be a transition, but I think you’ll find this new room to be fun and exciting.

Your birthday falls shortly after the autumnal equinox; a time of transition and reflection, a phase of duality where both light and dark exist, and the ushering in of the long shadows of winter. Some fear this darkness, this silence, but this is where we learn and reflect upon the harvest reaped. Right now, this is you, my love, and my most favorite time of the year. While I am challenged by your shifting moods, it has also forced me to look inward, and I’m pacing myself to keep up with you.

On this birthday I wish for you more discovery of the world. You are everything I never knew I ever wanted, and needed, in a daughter: a fierce, furniture-climbing, armchair-jumping, somersault rolling, happy, determined, strong, twirling, imaginative, bright-eyed three year-old.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Lucille.



This is where you are right now; caught somewhere between the shadows of who and what you're becoming, and the light of what you already know.

And I'm beside you.

In the thick of it all, bobbing and weaving between the pendulum of your emotions.

I'm beside you, and kid, let me tell you, this is punishing. Because in the most demanding way it's not physical, a sore muscle that needs rest; it's unrelenting and arduous, because it's emotional.

Whomever coined the term "terrible twos," clearly had not yet encountered a three year-old. I've become quite familiar with the phrase "threenager," and it seems to fit Lucy perfectly. We've also used, on occasion, Lussolini, as when she gets into a mood, there's no room for democracy, only a vehement dictatorship. I have made many jokes this summer about how I may not survive this year, and while I chuckle, inside, I'm desperate to help us both through this necessary, yet aggravating challenge.

I've reached out to the wiser, more experienced, and they've all returned the same trifecta of sentiments: this is normal, we will survive, and it's only a phase. All three remain close to my heart and nerves, and I repeat them like mantras when the little turd refuses to sit still long enough for me to comb out the rat's nest that has formed in her hair because she refused to let me braid it and keep it out of her face for the day.

Exasperation doesn't even come close.

When researching the psychology and developmental stage of an (almost) three year-old - the stark contrast of emotions, stubbornness, need to feel independent whilst still screaming for mama because the shadows in her room made it scary - I'm not surprised. Watching her deal is one thing, and then experiencing my own reaction is another: one moment rage seethes just beneath my flesh, and the next, I want to wrap her up in my arms and never let her go.

Parenting this little girl strikes me as a parallel to what she's actually undergoing. Maybe that's Nature's way of helping us through this seventh circle of hell? Some twisted sort of empathy?

I reached out to her pediatrician, whom I adore, never judges, and always reassures. I needed some validation from a professional. When I described what was going on, she responded with:

"I wish I could make this all go away, as it is very stressful. Her behavior is normal. 3 year-olds think they can do it all on their own, especially bright articulate children. Remain calm, loving, but firm...often what they need is recognition of their feelings. It's just a phase. The hard part is not knowing the duration. Surely it will go up and down."

It's a carousel, Lucy. We're on your beloved "carouself," going up and down, round and round. Sometimes the view is spectacular, and sometimes it isn't.

While she's navigating the choppy waters of her emotions, the sharp corners of what she's feeling, overwhelmed and unable to cope, I'm sourcing stores of patience at the bottom of what feels like a nearly dry well. Most days I can manage, but there are plenty when I look at her - screaming in my face about needing to watch Wonder Woman right now and wanting to drink chocolate milk from the blue cup - that I turn from her and walk away. Like actually walk away to another room, telling her not to follow me, and give me a minute.

Then she panics. And follows me, screaming louder, no mama, don't be sad, don't go. She knows. She knows and somehow that's reassuring, that in the midst of all this bullshit, she's beginning to understand that actions come with reactions. The other day, after a series of infuriating behaviors, what they were I couldn't even tell you because they were so inconsequential (but there were about thirty billion that happened in rapid fire succession), I started to cry. Full on ugly cry, right there on the couch. Lucy became distraught, and began to cry herself. She hovered over me, wiping my tears, repeating, no mama, please don't cry, don't be sad, I love you so much. And that made me cry harder.

Because I'm her mama and I want to help her understand these big feelings that are inundating her. Because she's growing up, and I'm desperate to sleep well again and not have to go into her room when she cries out for me. Because I'm terrified she won't cry out for me. Because it's all so big and amazing and demanding.

And then I look at these photos taken this morning, dark images of this little person in between worlds, the light catching her profile, and in that moment, I forget all the yuck.

Because I love her so much.


Big Girl Room

My Sweet Lucille,

Today is officially the first day of spring, and tonight, for the first time, you will sleep in your "big white bed." Friday afternoon, we shipped you off to Grandma's so that I could have time to refresh what was once your nursery and transform it into a room befitting of the toddler you have become. Despite the months of scouring Etsy, shopping sales, and snagging pieces for this project, I was, once again, wholly unprepared for the emotional force with which I would be hit.

My mama heart ached Thursday night, the last time I would lay you down in the crib that you've slept in since we brought you home from the hospital. I choked up on the phone with your Dad when I spoke to him Friday evening, letting him know it would only be appropriately ceremonious that he be the one to take down the crib he'd assembled. My friend, Britt, remarked of this milestone that, "one of the greatest gifts of motherhood is the ability to notice the significance of these moments." Rest assured that every single one of these leaves an indelible mark.

The experience of dismantling the nursery I'd spent hours putting together, was cathartic. Necessary, even. Each piece I removed from the walls was purgative. Every hole patched and sanded was a reminder that, "Nothing gold can stay." I teared up. I was present. I allowed myself to feel all the feels. For as much as I want to freeze every stage of your life, to keep you gold for a little while longer, this life of yours, is growing. And with each milestone achieved, my mama heart aches with the realization that you were never really mine. You belong to yourself, and it is simply my incredibly fortunate privilege to be your mother.

This big girl room is a reflection of the marvelous little girl you've become. While you still wear pull-ups at night, for all intents and purposes, you are potty trained. This past fall you visited the dentist for the first time and got an excellent oral bill of health. You continue to love to dance and "twirl." Winter, this time around, was much kinder to you, and it appears as though what everyone told us - that business about immune systems being built in the fires of those first two winters - was right. There were a few ear infections, and a mild case of walking pneumonia, but as a whole, you were generally a healthy kid during these historically trying months. You still LOVE to swing on the swings, play with chalk on the sidewalk, and read. Read, read, read, all day long. Your imagination, Lucille, is incredible. I could listen to the tales you spin, endlessly.

Then there's Wonder Woman. Perhaps this was some of my doing; even so, you've taken on your adoration for the warrior princes of the Amazons. And I'm okay with that - winky smiley face.

Redecorating your room involved using some of the pieces that already existed such as your Wonder Woman tin and clock; I just enhanced what was there. You see, Lucille, you're still the same spirit you were the day you were born, and this refreshed room, reflects that sentiment. Those long feet we all marveled at, are the very same, and now the ones that take you sprinting down hills and leaping off rocks.

When you come home today and see your new room for the first time, I hope you love it. I hope it provides for you the space to play, to explore, to flourish. I hope we stockpile another cache of memories within these walls.

Taking down that crib was a forever goodbye to the final vestige of your babyhood. Because you are my one and only, every first is the last first, and every last is the last. And just when it feels as though my mama heart can't bear the hurt of one more landmark crossed, I'm bolstered by the little voice that is yours, when now, nightly, you must say, I love you, Mommy. Sweet dreams, Mommy.

In a few weeks you will be 2.5 years old.

You are "my best girl," my sugar cookie, my captivating chaos, my queen of all wild things, my beautiful mess. Loving you is a dazzling adventure. Welcome to your big girl room, Lucille.



My friend, Jen, over at Real Life Parenting, recently wrote about how she buys All The Things for her kids at Christmas. I loved everything she said, and especially her insightful reflection as to how, while this was about her kids and giving them what she felt would be an amazing Christmas morning, it was also about her – about redeeming the early December 25th mornings that she'd always wished she had.

Lucy is just two this year, but all be damned if she doesn’t already know about “Santa Cwause” and that he brings presents. We were standing outside on our porch the other day when a neighbor walked by with their dog. The neighbor woman asked Lucy if Santa would be coming soon, and my precocious daughter’s reply was simply, “He bring me presents.” The girl has figured it out.

Lately I’ve been hearing chatter surrounding how some folks are choosing not to lie to their children about Santa. And while I firmly believe that everyone has to do what they feel is best for their own family, I’m going to be clear about something: we WILL most definitely be lying to Lucy about Santa.

I have incredibly fond memories of Christmas as a child, the anticipation coursing through my kid body, and the absolute over-the-top excitement on Christmas morning that catapulted me out of bed and shot me like a rocket down the hallway and into the living room, was THE BEST. I loved Christmas so much that around Halloween, I would create one of those chains made out of construction paper and hang it around my room. For hours I’d sit on my bedroom floor, cutting out the strips of colorful paper and stapling the links together. It was always impossibly too long, but I needed a visual, something I could see that would tell me I was getting closer to that hallowed morning. Eventually, when the chain was manageable, sometime in early December, I’d transfer it to the living room where the rest of the family could join me in my jubilation of ripping a link off each night.

I’m fully aware that kids get absorbed by the self-centered craze of presents. More is more, and it’s all me, me, me. I get that. I WAS that. But, I was also excited to find and give presents. I worked hard to make sure I got my parents and brother gifts I thought they would like. I loved picking things out for friends and other family members. So while yes, I could not wait to tear through my own gifts on Christmas morning, I was also excited to give Mom and Dad their gifts, and see their faces as they opened what I’d picked out for them.

There’s also the sentiment that lying to kids about Santa is taking advantage of their naiveté, and possibly even hindering their intellectual development. It’s true, I read it in a Psychology Today article. For reals. I have no evidence other than myself, my husband, family and friends. We were all lied to, and we are all perfectly functioning adults. I promise.

Before I’d had Lucy, I’d come across the idea of the four gift rule: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. A completely sensible approach to gift giving. A way to keep the expectations in check. For her first and second Christmas, we sort of did follow that guideline, mainly because she was too young to understand. But now, she’s getting it, and folks it’s exciting to be on this end of things. To be the adult creating the magic for your kid. It must have been what my parents felt. Lucy is not getting a billion things this year, but she’s definitely getting more than just something to wear or read. And I CANNOT WAIT. I cannot wait to see her little face when she walks into the living room and she sees what Santa has left her. I cannot wait to see her tear through her presents. The giddiness I feel rivals that of my childhood self.

I get to do this all over again, but through her. Sure, I’ll admit this is self-serving, but dammit, it’s fun.

And because I want her to understand that Christmas is also about the spirit of family and giving, we are going to be starting some new traditions in our household. This year, Lucy and I signed up for Presents for Patients, through which we were matched with an elderly person at a nursing home near where we live, becoming their Secret Santa and surprising them with a couple of gifts. This past weekend, Lucy and I visited Josephine (the Moon’s namesake). It was an incredible experience. This lovely woman, 98 years young, was so happy to have us visit her. She even questioned what she’d done to deserve such gifts. My response to "Miss Josie" was simply that we were in the business of spreading good cheer and perpetuating the holiday spirit. By the end of our stay, Lucy even gave Miss Josie a high-five.

I will teach my daughter the spirit of Christmas and giving.
AND I will lie to her, unabashedly and without guilt or regret.
AND I will hold onto that Santa lie for as long as possible.

Merry Christmas.


The Helpers.

It is midnight when I stumble into your room, your pitiful cries of “mommy, I need a rock you,” call to me from the crib you still sleep in at two years old. Within seconds of reaching for you, it becomes glaringly clear that all thirty pounds of you is aflame. I confirm the fever, give you a dose of Motrin, then sit, at your request in “da chair,” and rock you. It is two in the morning. My alarm will go off in just three paltry hours, but rocking your almost-too-big-sick-toddler-self is exactly where I want to be.

My sweet girl, the world has turned so ugly lately. The kind of awfulness that makes me question why anyone would want to bring life into this one. And yet you’re here because I wanted you, and because despite the madness occurring, I still believe there’s good. Your lily-white existence knows nothing about the atrocities happening everywhere, the mothers and fathers, the daughters and sons being gunned down with reckless abandon in the name of something I will never understand. There are children clinging to their mothers’ breasts as they cross wide deep chasms of black-watered oceans in hopes of a better life. Some make it. Many don’t. You are too young to understand the finality in death, so much so that when we’re watching The NeverEnding Story and you ask about the horse that disappears in the Swamps of Sadness, my milquetoast response is simply that Atreyu is sad because Artax, his horse, swam away.

But he didn’t.
He drowned, quite literally, because of his own sadness.

Your only concept of injustice is not getting the fruit snacks you demand, or being told it’s time for a bath. I love that you have no idea what hatred lies in the hearts of some. If I could shield you from it all, forever, I would. Knowing that someday you may become disheartened after hearing something terrible on the news, or reading some feed on whatever page of social media you’re trolling – makes me want to shake the collective world and scream, what’s wrong? You believe the Sun is a being with a soul who “goes to fweep” at night, and we’ve named the moon, “Josephine.” You have no idea that you exist in a world alongside murderers and thieves, liars and rapists – people whose only mission it is to ruin the lives of others.

When I read about the Aylan Kurdi’s of the world, and the mass shootings that headline far too many a news report, when my eyes fill uncontrollably with the tears that I will cry because I am a mother and I am changed forever, because I know these arms that hold you now will only reach so far, I will think of something I heard once quoted from Fred Rogers:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in 
the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for 
the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.

I hope it is a long day from this one, but when you’re old enough to know that innocent people die when they shouldn’t, that lives are overturned in the chaos of nameless wars – I will tell you, my love, to find the good and those helpers, and if you’re up for it, to be that good.


She's Two.

Dear Lucille,

Today you are two years old. My daughter is two.

I believe Jerry Seinfeld once said that having a two year-old is like owning a blender with no top. The man was definitely on to something...You, my fiammetta, are strong of body and character. That ever present twinkle in your eye, the one that has been there since birth, has remained and shimmers with a sense of humor and mischief. We are lucky that on *most* days, you choose your powers for good. Unfortunately, we are not spared the moments where you decide to exert your will and test us – but this is not wrong or bad. This is how you learn and grow. This is how we all learn and grow.

You, Lucille, are a glittering rocket, hurling yourself towards independence, determined to put your socks on by yourself, to put on your shoes, to hold the cup and drink, to pour large quantities of liquid into your cup, to clean up the spilled mess, to brush your teeth, to wash your hands, to jump from the last stair onto the floor. And the stardust trail you leave behind sometimes involves tears, but often reverberates with the sound of laughter, an infectious melody and second only to the radiance of your smile.

Reading still remains a love of yours, and there are several books you have memorized – Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, Rad American Women A-Z, and Knuffle Bunny – to name a few. There is a tender side of you that is emerging, and the baby doll you named Audrey, is often cradled in your arms. You talk about how she’s a “cutie pie,” and how she “needs her mommy.” You deposit kisses to her plastic forehead and gently pat her back so she can “sleep.” Nature or nurture? I’m not certain. It has been rewarding to see this facet of you emerge. You are concerned when you see another child crying, asking why, then suggesting that he/she needs to be comforted by “a mommy” who can give “huggies and snuggles.” I hope this empathy continues to grow. You love dinosaurs, and animals in general, and are currently obsessed with watching E.T., and “da piggy movie,” Charlotte’s Web II. You also like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Sofia the First, and Curious George. I still have to sing to you at night before bed, and our most recent rotation include Baby Mine, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Ants Marching, the Star Spangled Banner (I know, weird…), Go To Sleep You Little Baby, and of course, You Are My Sunshine. Always with the “more sunshine, mama.”

There is no boundary when it comes to vocabulary; you say everything you hear and you remember it, too. Mornings are often your chattiest, and you wake with stories about things you’ve done in past days, or perhaps even dreamed. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, but nevertheless, you love to talk.

And as you take these giant roaring leaps of learning that are catapulting you towards independence, you still have a very strong tether to your base of comfort. Most days, it’s me you want. To bathe you, to get your food together, to hold you, to play with you, to rock and sing to you. I would lie if I didn’t admit that this is both endearing and exhausting. We’ve been told that one day the tide will turn and Daddy will be the one you call for. I’m keenly aware that there will come a time when you won’t need so much from me, so lately, I’ve been working on staying in the present, savoring these fleeting moments. This, I’m understanding, is the dichotomy of Toddlerhood: the need to feel independent while still clinging to the only assured safety you’ve ever known.

But you are slowly letting go, and forcing me to do the same. You spent, for the first time ever an entire day away from us. You left our house in your grandmother’s car, in a car, that for the first time, wasn’t one of ours. I know it isn’t right to keep you caged, but it was so hard, so hard to relinquish control, to see you go. You had a wonderful day, and I was incredibly happy for you. And in that happiness, I allowed myself to be excited for your future adventures, renewing my vow to let you fly, never to stand in your way. I missed you, and the house was eerily quiet, but once in a while, it will be good for all of us; a change of scenery for you, a break for me and your daddy.

I have to remind myself, often, that you growing up is not immediate or instant, it’s a constant state of change – a long winding road of transition. And as you walk among the timber and through the prairies, your velvety little hand still reaches up for mine, or you ask, “mama, I need a hold you,” we cross the chasms, together.

On your second birthday, this is my promise to you: I won’t leave you behind. I will work to meet you on your level when the world is too big, and your emotions don’t have names yet, and the only thing you can do is scream and cry. I will try to meet you in that place, to be your repose. Because my darling, you are an incredible little girl – smart, loving, brave, aware, strong, determined, funny, and fierce. All those qualities – both the ones that make us laugh and even the ones that force us to plumb the deepest recesses of patience we never knew we had — I promise to foster. You are so much like the two birthstones designated for October – opal and tourmaline. An array of colors, beautiful and unique.

Your grandfather, who you refer to as “Papa,” has nicknamed you Unstoppable. And you are exactly that; not because you’re perfect or that your life is extraordinary, but because you charge forward, a fire at your heels and in that mighty beating heart.

My little wonder woman, my wild thing with eyes that shine, my unstoppable, exquisite, beautiful daughter, I am still – even more now, in love with who you are becoming.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Lucille.