I love this picture. She looks like she is wide awake and ready for this wide, wonderful world she's arrived into. Ready to to eat it up! (That or see what my chin tastes like.) Given that she wanted to arrive face first (which led to the c-section that foiled my VBAC) and given her enthusiasm for life during the last four years, that sounds about right!
And here we are today, making her birthday cake together.
This time I let her crack the eggs All By Herself. ("Just like Giki does!" she exclaimed. Yes, Grandma has more patience in general for eggshells in the recipe than I do, so I generally don't let her do the egg cracking. But today was a special day.)
It hardly seems possible that she's the same little person as that tiny baby.
But of course she is -- and she isn't. We are neither one of us the same. Though it's more astonishingly apparent in looking at her, I've grown and changed during the past four years as well. Amazingly so. (And not just in growing out my hair.)
Having kids holds one accountable in ways I never would have imagined, on a daily (hourly! moment by moment!) basis. It distills things to their essences in ways banal and beautiful. (Diapers -- there's frank evidence of distillation for you. And not exactly beautiful.) Life reduced to eating and sleeping, laughter and love. (Eat, play, snuggle, sleep. Repeat.) Nothing more miraculous than the miracle of a baby breathing, that beautiful face in repose, tiny chest rising and falling in sleep. Sleep. Sleep! The essential craving for sleep, and sleep deprivation beyond endurance. And yet one endures!
I think I finally caught up on my motherhood-induced sleep debt this year. (Ha! But I'm not kidding!)
Having kids forces you to bend, because breaking isn't an option when such little ones depend so utterly on you. You endure what you thought you could not -- you bend. And having bent, you discover a flexibility within yourself that you never would have believed. You can indeed reach that far. And even farther. Motherhood as yoga. Remember to breathe. Your breath. And the miracle of your breathing baby.
And still the miracle of the sleeping child, when you peek in on her. As I did just now: all tuckered out from a busy birthday, she is sound asleep and beautiful. Dreaming heaven knows what. Even when they don't depend so completely on you, there's still the muscle memory: carrying that baby in my arms, hoisting her onto my hip. Feeling her first fishy wriggles in the womb.
Will those memories still be this strong when she's a teenager, when I peek in on her, seeing the sleeping baby in her dreaming face? I can't imagine them being otherwise, but then again four years ago I could hardly imagine what today would be like. I knew intellectually that she would grow, of course, and having had one child that intellectual knowledge was no longer merely abstract. I had lost the new-parent-naivete somewhat; I knew she would grow because her older brother gave undeniable proof of that. But she was so complete in her tiny perfection it seemed like it would be forever before she was walking, talking, making jokes. And yet here we are.
I'm sure she'll be driving before I know it. (And double all these emotions for BJ. He's only 22 months ahead, but that's a lifetime at this age.) Yes, Mama was full of nostalgia today, watching her little girl open up presents.
She loved her nightgowns from Pop-Pop and Giki (not to mention the stickers in her birthday card! Score!)
Nightgowns were a specific request from the birthday girl because she's decided that pants are "icky ficky" and so she no longer wants to wear her PJs. (Not that she was a big one for wearing pajamas anyway, since she prefers to sleep au naturelle, but the gowns were a big hit during the waking hours.)
She also really got a kick out of the contents of the card from Grandma C and Grandpa D. "Dollar ten!" she squealed. Here she is, showing me the money (but keeping her eyes on the prize, you'll note).
Nana J also gave her some funds in the card that arrived earlier this week, so the girl has some shopping to do! She's very excited. Many thanks to everyone who sent cards and gifts! We appreciate your thoughtfulness.
BJ gave his sister the Prince doll for Beauty & the Beast (since that's the school play he's in, it seemed appropriate). BB wanted nothing to do with the Beast aspect of the doll (it transforms, rather weirdly I agree, from Beast to Prince by way of a removable Beast head and upper torso). But BB approved of the Prince, and she immediately introduced Belle to her beau.
BB had also asked for some "pretend flowers" so that she could have them to keep forever. Here she is with the artificial bouquet that BJ helped me pick out -- in her favorite colors, pink and orange -- and wearing the new dress and hair accessories that S and I gave her today. Happiness is fake flowers, apparently, especially if accompanied by enough sparkles on your dress.
Today, BB wanted to celebrate by going to one of her favorite restaurants for lunch, so she and I got all fancied up (at her request) and headed to Sweet Tomatoes.
S came home from the office to join us -- I'd told BB that it was probably a bit much to expect Dad to dress up as well, and she was fine with that. So we had a lovely lunch together, just the three of us.
The rest of the day was play, with a little fussing (the poor dear was so tired she fell asleep in the car on the way home from lunch, but she Refused To Take A Nap).
Then we had some more play, dressing up (I think she wore 5 different outfits today), and making the dinner BB had requested: spaghetti with meatballs, salad and bread (not that she ate much of the salad, just the shredded carrots and bits of purple cabbage, but hey, that's an improvement for The Girl Who Eats Very Few Veggies). We had the cake for dessert, of course. Chocolate with vanilla frosting. I had the ill-advised inspiration to use up the marshmallow fluff left over from my parents' visit (my mom was on a big marshmallow fluff and hot chocolate kick) by using it as the filling between the two layers of cake. Result: marshmallow fluff leaking out from between the two layers, glopping down the sides of the bottom layer and causing the top layer to slide off repeatedly so that I had to keep pushing it back on and trying to keep it on with more frosting.
Not that BB seemed to mind. More frosting? What's wrong with that?? Here she is licking the frosting off the plastic decorations (ladybugs and bumblebees, saved from a previous year's cake):
S had a paper to go to this evening, so after cake he left and I got the kids to bed. All told, a very nice day. May every birthday go as well: healthy, happy, and full of sweetness. (Even if some of that was, for me, a little bittersweet.)