Everything has been on your own terms from the time you were born two years ago today. Thankfully you decided that being only three weeks early was enough to shake things up a bit. You succeeded, by the way; we didn’t even bring a car seat to the hospital with us. Clearly your mom and I weren’t prepared, even if you had been born on your due date, but you also didn’t give us enough time. From start to finish, you were born in 1 hour and 44 minutes. What a blessing for your mother, sweet girl.
You slept right after you came into the world. I remember thinking how sweet it was that it took only a minute for you to fall asleep on your mommy, where you stayed for the longest time. She couldn’t see your face because it was nuzzled under her chin, but she felt you, little girl, of that I’m sure.
I didn’t predict that this would be the theme of your life thus far. I thought for sure you’d turn into a rascally tomboy for trying to keep up with your big brother. It turns out, that even though you can certainly hold your own, you’re reserved, demure, and aware. It’s beautiful. You keep your cards close, you’re measured in action, and guarded with your affection. There’s safety in you, for us and for yourself.
One of my sweetest memories is coming home from work to your 8 or 9 month old smiling, perfect circle of a face. What a comfort you were, reaching to touch my face with a giggle. You were a balm for my oft weary soul, and without any effort you absorbed the busyness inside of me. In those short, healing moments, you gave me more security than an infant should be able to.
The intrinsic qualities you possess fill a hole in our family that I didn’t realize existed. A few days after we brought you home from the hospital, I remember standing, overcome, as I watched your mom, your brother, and you (my better three quarters) live life in front of me. I’m sure it was in part due to being slightly overwhelmed at having another life to take care of (and adding another arrow to my quiver), but it was then that I realized that your presence was special, because it brought new life and energy to something that had existed beautifully before. The way you spin around and dance when music comes on, how you show affection to your stuffed animals and baby dolls, when you say “pretty” as mommy is looking in your armoire for the day’s outfit, how you call anyone in a dress or gown “princess”, how you touch your nose to ours when we ask “where’s your nose?”, how you’re sure to say “ni-night mommy” or “ni-night daddy” sometimes through tears of exhaustion during bedtime, the way you bring us book after book to read to you and the way you crawl on our laps to listen (for as much as I love it, I’d be fine with getting a small break from “Little White Rabbit”), your desire to be close to the ones you love, the joy you find in dainty things, the way you bring out a tender side of your spirited brother when he gives you a hug or tells you he loves you…all of that brings a treasured softness to our household.
And I hope you stay the way you are. Of course I’ll love you just the same if you don’t, but I see a future for you as someone who many find refuge in: the same safety I find when you look into my eyes and smile. And if you do become an older version of your current self, I hope you grow in the same security you’ve already found even at two years old. One day you’ll hear a lie that the qualities that make you, you – the sweet, girly you – were imposed on you. Don’t believe it. You were fearfully and wonderfully knit together. Your inner workings aren’t there by happenstance or persuasion; they’re there on purpose and for a purpose, and it blows my mind sometimes that you seem to already know that. You’re a daily encouragement for me as I watch you live as the person you are, even if your freedom coincides with your comfort. That’s okay, stay guarded. While it may make it harder for things to find their way in, it also makes it harder for things to become lost.
It took a long time for your mom and me to decide on what your name would be. Some might think it silly that we searched for something that had a certain feel, but we were sure of it once we found it. As it turns out, you live up to it in feel and definition. You are precious to me, and one of my biggest blessings. So keep being you, because it’s beautiful, and because it makes me feel safe to be me. I’m proud that I can find that kind of comfort from you, my daughter: my safe place, my refuge…my sweet, sweet Haven.
Happy 2nd birthday, sweet girl.