Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Letter to Olivia

To My Peanut,

My first-born,

My Olivia,

You make me smile everyday with your joy and sweetness. I love that you elate when we open your door in the morning and jump up and down in your crib. I especially love that you wake up and lay quietly for a long time before deciding that it's time to start the day. Then you babble or sing before yelling out our names.

I love that you make up songs. I sang to you throughout my pregnancy - at choir, in the car, in the shower, and even during work when I would hum in the rare instances of down time. I sang after your surgery, and I sang during your spica diaperings. I sang when I didn't know what else to do, making up words to the beat of familiar cadences describing the mundane, reliving each moment of the day through song. I sang hymns, anthems, and top 40s. I sang Broadway and Disney, a karaoke wanna-be. And the reward, 21+ months later is that you sing, as I did at a young age, making up songs that list out what you see and love and do. You have a tiny, melodic voice that lifts my heart. I pray that you find solace in music, that it envelops you when you are sad, surrounds you when you are elated, and fills your world in inexplicable ways.

I love the way you smell and feel. When I pick you up in the small room at daycare, I squeeze you tightly and drink you in deeply. You are mine, and I cherish this one action each workday.

I love the way you say Leedo for Vito [the cat] and glubs for gloves. You say so many words with incredible articulation and intelligibility, but it's the imperfections that I delight in. I know it will not last, a stamp of childhood that fades slightly each day. You try to echo so much: okadoke for okey dokey and upadaze for oops-a-daisy, and you smile with my giggles. I find your intonations so full of attitude and drama, and I wish it could last. Or that you could retain the nymph-like shell currently shielding me from the drama sure to come when you shed this outer-layer and develop into a teenager, when the intonations are intentional and the sarcasm mastered. In those future moments, the dead-pan okay won't be a simple imitation of your adult cohorts but a possible dagger, meant to inflict emotional damage. I cling to the knowledge that you are too little for this; you are finding your voice, exploring how words feel and fit and flow.

I love that I am scooonnng [strong] to you because I run. I hope to teach you that women are strong and capable of so much more than before. I hope you love yourself as much as I love you. You have such confidence now. May this asset embed itself in your being but not so much that it edges out your sensitivity. You care so deeply for others and have come home to tell me about being sad when a friend didn't share. You yell kayful! to the TV when peril strikes. You empathize, something I am amazed to see in a person so small.

I love that you pray. For Daddy first, then Mommy. That you know to pray quietly and with your hands together. You know Jesus as a baby in the Nativity, but my heart tells me there is a belief there, too. And you say Amen. For this, I am grateful.

And this is my memory for you. Save it for a time when you need uplifting, when you've had a bad day or wish to hear kind words. Let the words pick you up and carry you through.

And I, baby girl, will do the same.

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