First a story: We went to Minnesota in April for my cousin’s wedding. Following the ceremony, there was a long cocktail hour before the reception began. Adults were milling around, talking about boring adult things. We found a table and there you sat comfortably on Gaba’s lap, still and quiet. I offered you a plate full of snacks. You nibbled contentedly on the spread before politely pushing the plate aside. I went to get a drink and when I returned, I discovered you completely absorbed in elaborate imaginary play with nothing but a single crumb that wasn’t much bigger than the head of a pin. I could not make out your words, but you were in constant conversation with the crumb as your fingers made the nimble speck of food hop across the white linen tabletop.
One single crumb, and you were happy and entertained.
We were looking at newborn photos of you this morning, and you were so small in my arms – a crumb yourself just over six pounds. You had a head full of dark, dark hair. Now it’s the color of sunshine.
You asked me about the day you were born. I showed you a picture of Madeline hugging my swollen belly. “Where am I?” you asked.
“In my belly,” I told you.
You smiled. “When was I born?” you asked.
So I told you about your first birthday, the day you found your way into my arms almost a month early. Birthing you was like parenting you – on the easy side. I had a handful of tough contractions and then – poof! – I pushed a few pushes, and you were here – a tiny treasure placed in my arms. I couldn’t stop smelling that black head of hair of yours or covering you with kisses.
You love to hear about that special day I met you for the first time, and I love to relive it. You also love to pretend you’re taking care of your own baby and often hold dolls in your arms like they’re delicate bundles.
Last night you crawled into bed next to me. It was late, and I shouldn’t have encouraged conversation, but you had important things to say.
“Will you die?” you asked me.
“Someday,” I said. “But not for a long, long time – like when you’re a mother and your babies are mothers.”
“I want to be a mother,” you told me.
Your babies will be lucky to have you.
We’re all lucky to have you.
My sweet girl, your soul is all goodness with more than a dash of sugar and spice. You are my girly girl – the one who picks out frilly dresses to wear on rainy, muddy, ordinary days and who wants to wear soft nightgowns to bed.
“When I grow up, can I go to a ball?” you asked the other night after I read Marcia Brown’s Cinderella to you. You’ll be ready for your glass slippers because you love to try on my shoes – especially my heels – and to drape yourself in costume jewelry. You like horses and taking care of stuffed puppies.
You’re a thoughtful one who needs solitude as much as air. You don’t always say much, but you’re always thinking and sometimes pondering things bigger than your three years of life (like wondering if I would die someday! I wasn’t prepared for that talk yet!).
Your favorite color is green, and you like orange, too. You would drink rivers of milk if I’d let you, and you’re a cheese monger. You have your mom’s sweet tooth and haven’t met a piece of chocolate you didn’t like. Loud noises intimidate you; stories enchant you. You have the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen and wavy, blond hair that you like me to twist into Dorothy braids.
You give smiles freely, and you cuddle close. You have decided the age of three makes you a big girl, so you now say, “When I was a little girl…” like those days of littleness are long behind you. But I tell you, “You’ll always be my little girl.” And you don’t argue. Yet. :-)
Rachel Marie, you are a walking rainbow who adds a splash of brightness to all of our days. I love everything that is you, and I know you’ll do great things with that big heart of yours.
Happy birthday, Baby Rae! One of these days I promise you we’ll start calling you Rachel, but not just yet…
You had two nonnegotiable requests for your birthday this year.
First, breakfast in bed.
Second, a giraffe cake with chocolate. (Pop made the cake with love.)
All your birthday wishes came true… Happy, happy birthday, sweet girl!