When the morning starts with you insisting on putting your clothes on yourself (even though you can’t and you get so frustrated you scream). When you want cereal, then pancakes, then a “mink!” and you want it now (even though I have three other kids, I’m trying to get ready in the morning too). When you put boots on the wrong feet, a hat cockeyed over your head, and mismatching gloves before putting on someone else’s backpack (even though you’re not going to school yet). When you grab a juice box on the way out and spill it all over the floor before rushing to claim the backseat in the car (even though your car seat is in the middle with your baby brother)…I remember.
I remember to take a deep breath and not lose my patience. I remember that these small steps toward independence are what we’ve always wished for you. I remember you almost weren’t here.
When you give your baby brother big hugs and a sloppy kiss (even though he really doesn’t want them right now). When you bop your older brother’s head with a block because you want him to read you a book (even though he had the blocks first). When you follow your big sister around, screaming her name and asking her to play (even though she wants a little space right now). When you really, REALLY, don’t want to share… I remember.
I remember that your exuberance, your want to be a part of things, and your eagerness to play with your siblings are among the best things about you. You’re still learning how to do it a little more nicely. And I remember you almost weren’t here.
When you have your two-year-old tantrums. When you can’t describe what you want or need, but man, do you need it right now. When coloring turns into ripped paper and crayons all over the floor. When meals turn into spilled drinks, crushed cheerios, and soggy half-eaten grilled-cheese. When the toilet paper is unrolled in the bathroom, and the toys are all over the floor, and you just tried to take off your dirty diaper and need a tub again…I remember.
I remember the weeks you were an infant in the hospital fighting to get better. I remember I would have traded the messiest house and the crabbiest kids to have us all sleeping under the same roof together again. And I remember you almost weren’t here.
When you lip-sync to Moana and dance without abandon. When you run to your dad and throw your arms around him for a hug. When you ask for your baby brother in the morning before you’ve even gotten out of bed. When you giggle and giggle with your big brother and sister as you play hide-and-seek or peek-a-boo. When you ask me to “carry-you-me” and tell me “Thank you, Mom” after you walk away…I remember.
I remember that your spunk and enthusiasm, and even your temper are some of your biggest strengths. I remember how hard you fought to be here with us and how much you are enjoying the life you so greatly deserve. And I remember you almost weren’t here.
When being a mother seems like a thankless job, or when it seems like the greatest blessing, I could have ever received. When you have a tough morning and cry every time I put you down or when you are your happiest, beaming self. When you fight with your siblings all day, or when you all get along. When the house is a disaster or when you sing while helping me put away toys or empty the dishwasher…I remember.
I remember to be thankful for you and each of your brothers and sister. I remember that things can change in a heartbeat and that most of the things that I stress over are completely unimportant. I remember that good health and time together matter more than anything else.
And I remember that you almost weren’t here.