I had no idea that having a daughter would bring so much sunshine and joy into our family. I never anticipated how big of an impact you would have on the spirit of our home--how much you would soften your brothers, your father, and even me. I couldn't believe that having a baby girl would feel any different from having a baby boy, beyond the obvious fun of different clothes.
And yet, you ARE different from your brothers, even at your tender age. You are so clued in to everyone around you. You know what they like and what they don't. You love to be my little shadow more than anything else; a phrase you utter a thousand times a day is "I helpa, too, momma?" And I find it astonishing that when I am doing laundry, you identify each piece of clothing with the correct person, even when I have a hard time telling which clothes go to which brother without checking the tags. You have always quickly identified objects with the people who use them (remind me to tell you the story one day of Nana and the MnMs.)
One of our daily rituals is that you must sit in the sink and play in my makeup bag when I'm getting ready. It's the only way I can get you to sit still for your pig tails, but you insist on playing with brushes and rubbing chapstick on your face. You are completely wounded if I put on my makeup without your help; it is a betrayal of our bond.
You have radar that goes off as soon as I start cooking or baking. You might be busy playing with your favorite doll or watching Max and Ruby, but as soon as you realize that I'm in the kitchen you come running to "helpa too." It sometimes makes me crazy, especially because you try to taste everything, even raw meat, but I try to remember that I want you to work side by side with me later and I have to cultivate that now, while you are interested. You love cookie dough, cake batter, plain butter, and even taste the dry ingredients against my recommendations.
You, like your brothers, love books. Your favorites have always been the books that illustrate songs, including The Wheels on the Bus, I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus, Skip to My Lou, and We're Going on a Bear Hunt. You also love Max and Ruby books, books about babies, and books that involve kissing.
You love your babies, especially one that is completely ratty now, whom you call "Pink Baby." You got a new doll from Grammy and Papa that takes a bath with you. Not only did you reject all the rest of the gifts that night (except for the Annie CD you had already opened,) but now you want to bathe 3 times a day. You sit in the bath, singing to your baby and washing her and take great care to dry her with her towel when bath time is over.
You love to sing, and belt songs from Annie at the top of your lungs. I love that the new CD you have is the same recording as the record I listened to as a little girl. Whenever we sing as a family, you begin shouting out the names of the songs you want us to switch to: Jingle Bells, "Rock" (The Wise Man Built His House), "Popcorn" (Popping), Tomorrow, "Teech Ee All Dat I Dutch Do" (I am a Child of God) until we give in and sing your list. And if we sing one of your book songs, you shout, "Oh, no!" and run to find the book.
And somehow, as I noticed when you were only a few months old, having a daughter makes me feel more tied to the generations. You cause me to contemplate your future children and grandchildren and all those women who have come before us, passing on a legacy of love. As I watch you tenderly rock your babies or scold your brothers in an oh-too-familiar voice, you inspire me to be a better mother; a more gentle, soft-spoken, fun-loving mother for you to emulate. I know that you want to be just like me, and it makes me want to be a better example so that I don't pass my bad habits on to you. Thank you for inspiring me to be better for our whole family and for the generations that will come after you.
We love you more than words can express. You light up our days, fill our home with laughter and kisses, and bring peace to the storm. Your energy and determination can be exhausting, but even that we welcome.
I pray that you have a wonderful year and rejoice with the rest of us when we welcome your new little sibling in a few months (the one who wouldn't uncross its legs in the ultrasound.) We love you, little girl!
(And Happy 29th Birthday today to your Grammy. Here's a tribute that I wrote to her and Papa last year. We love you, Grammy!)