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.

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