To my twenty month old daughter:
If I had one chance to stop time, at any point in your life, I’d choose now.
I’m sure you’re thinking, why now? I have such a long life ahead of me. Life is about to get a lot more adventurous and so much easier. But there are a few things I know with absolute certainty.
Never again in this lifetime will you be this inquisitive. Sure…you may go backpacking through Europe at 20 years old seeking new knowledge and adventures with your best girls. But never again will you marvel at the shape of an orange, wheels on a toy car, or the rich color of a strawberry with such fascination and delight as you do now. Your brain is a sponge and every day it soaks up something new.
Never again in this lifetime will you be as authentic as you are now. At some point you will conform to societal norms. This world will shape you, teach you, and mold you into a respectful, understanding, functional citizen of society. Your actions, reactions, and behaviors will be carefully thought out based on whatever society deems appropriate per the situation. Right now you react authentically. You don’t know what is deemed “normal.” You simply react and behave however you genuinely feel. I fear the day you suppress your little cry so you won’t get embarrassed or hold in your laughter at a place that’s supposed to be quiet.
When music is on, you dance. You don’t look around to see who is watching. You don’t bury your head when someone smiles at your new moves. You proudly dance, with your head held high. You freely and willingly give affection. Everyone you know gets hugs and kisses, multiple times per day. You’re not shy, embarrassed, or uncomfortable. You’re just you. You’re the most “you” you’ll ever be.
Never again in this lifetime will you kiss, hug, and tell your sister you love her as often as you do now. Your love for her will grow, and I’m sure you will express it. But the hug after every bite of waffle, kiss each time you walk into the room, or excited high pitched “hi baby!” will soon fade. Your love for her won’t fade, but your expression of it will. In a matter of months I am sure the typical sibling rivalry will start. The dreaded “that’s mine,” “that’s not fair,” “you’re mean” days are coming. And I know there will still be lots of hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s”, but never as much as there are now.
At twenty months old you run around the house yelling “Mommmyyyy” just to find me, wrap your arms around my legs, squeeze me for three seconds. You run away and then come back five minutes later do it again. I cannot say for certain that you won’t continue to do this. I certainly hope you do. But something tells me those little hugs and cries for Mommy will fade with time. I hope you know I need you as much as you need me. One day I’ll be yearning for you, the way you do for me and I hope you accept my hugs as much as I embrace them now.
Never again in this lifetime will you page through dozens of books, babbling at each page, making up words and pretending to read to the family. Your imagination will grow, and eventually run wild. But at some point it will shrink. I fear the day it starts to shrink. You won’t be comfortable playing pretend and so you’ll read the book as it’s written, instead of how you imagine it should be.