“The littlest feet make the biggest footprints in our hearts.”
It doesn’t make any sense that I was just cradling her in my arms after bringing her into this world, all warm and cozy in our home and now she’s mastered the art of walking so well she’s nearly made it to a run. I blame her precocious walking on her brothers. If they weren’t so fun and interesting she would not have been motivated to get on her feet so quickly. As soon as her wobbly steps became steady, a game of baby chase immediately broke out and hasn’t stopped since. Baby attack, as they so lovingly call it, involves all three children running laps around the entire downstairs. The layout of our downstairs provides the perfect track to run laps from the front hallway, through the kitchen, cutting through the dining room to the living room and back again. While the boys have their manic giggle, she squeals with delight every time she comes close to catching them. Big Brother, of course is so fast that he can lap her three or four times in the time it takes her to make one trip around the house, as he is bobbing and weaving around the walls trying to dodge her. She is delighted in every second of it and is so pleased with their attention and invitation to be a part of their play. Wherever they are and whatever those brothers are doing, she wants to be in the mix.
My sweet, last baby, who as of today has made her first trip around the sun, has officially left babyhood and is now a toddler. I have no idea how it happened so fast. She has dramatically changed our lives for the better by bringing us so many laughs and an endless supply of joy. She is one of the happiest people I have ever met. Unless she has a genuine need (read: food, sleep, comfort from pain) she is always in a good mood and ready to share a smile and flirt with you. My heart melts when she lights up as I walk into the room and greets me with wide open arms reaching up to wrap me in her tiny, but mighty hug.
I have spent many years doing the delicate dance of rocking, shushing, nursing, or simply holding hands with my boys as they drifted off to sleep when they were babies and into toddlerhood (ok, who am I kidding, I am still lying down with Little One at night). I had finally perfected the art of sliding my hand out of the crib or ever so gently placing babies down and tip toeing out of the room, careful to step over all of the boards known to creak on the floor. Bedtime for the boys was always so labor intensive and exhausting. I paid my bedtime dues and then some. And then along came this baby girl. I think of all the moments throughout the day, bedtime is by far my favorite. It is pure baby delicious-ness. She is my first magical baby who will charmingly lie in her crib and sing or talk herself to sleep at night and often wakes up where she left off in song. After getting cozy in her pajamas I can ask her to collect a book to read and she will proudly waddle over to the book box and nearly run with giddy excitement on her way back to the chair with book in hand. She’ll bark at the dogs and moo at the cows on the pages of our book while beaming with pride that she gets it. She loves to goof around and giggle with me. She actually cracks jokes in very subtle and simple ways. And what a snuggle bunny! When she’s finished her bottle and we’ve read her last book she points to her lovey in her bed and as I drape it across my shoulder she nearly melts into me as she buries her head. She will lie there, nuzzled in, as I sway from side to side singing Twinkle, Twinkle or You are My Sunshine and she hums and sings along with me as we brush cheeks. I love nuzzling and kissing her sweet neck. When my kisses start to tickle and her shrugging giggle takes over her body as she looks up at me, flashing her bright eyes before throwing herself back on my shoulder, asking for more. And she returns the kisses in her own sloppy, wet style. These last few weeks she’s fighting yet another winter cold so the runny nose in combination with the non-stop teething drool leaves her face sopping wet the majority of the day, no matter how many times I wipe. She has reached this magical stage of wanting to kiss me back and even though there’s a small part of me that cringes with how much snot and drool is being wiped all over my face, I can’t help but allow her to cover me in it as she goes in for an open mouth kiss up and down my cheeks, again and again. These treasured bedtime moments fill my heart completely as the rest of the day she can not stand to be held or kept still for too long because there is simply too much to explore. And brothers to catch.
This day is bittersweet. I am completely in love with this amazing person she is becoming, but simultaneously mourning the loss of my very last moments as a mother to a baby. Even though there is so much excitement in seeing the light in her brain on and shining bright, I still find myself, at times, longing for her to go back to that simple, sweetness of newborn. But then I see the understanding and recognition in her eyes as her receptive language is exploding and I can’t wait to start having conversations and really getting to know who she is and what’s going on in that fascinating brain of hers. She is so funny and fierce. So sweet and strong. She is what makes this family complete.