HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LOVE! We had your birthday party last night with Grandma and Papa Quinn, and the rest of the Quinn aunts, uncles, and cousins- minus Jason’s family. Your favorite part was singing “Happy Birthday” and blowing out the candles on your "pancake", so we did it two times just for you. We could have stopped right there and you would have been fine- who needs presents when you can blow out birthday candles? But we went ahead and helped you open gifts. You did this with an air of disdain, as if to say, "I'm doing this for your benefit, not mine..." I can hardly believe that you are turning two today. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I held you in my arms for the first time, and now you’re a walking, talking, and very opinionated little person.
I remember those first few luxurious months when you would accommodate my need to just sit and hold you in my arms- probably because you were still immobile at the time. As soon as you mastered the art of crawling, it was all I could do to keep you on my lap more than 5 minutes. With each level of mobility learned, you have found a new sense of independence and freedom. From the time you wake up to the time your little head hits the pillow, you are constantly on the go. Nap times are a battle of the wits and I have to coax you to sit on my lap by reading you books in the rocking chair. After a few books, I ask if you would like me to sing you a song. And after a few songs, you finally fall asleep, your head heavy on my shoulder, your breathing slow and even. Bedtime is different, I think because by that time you have completely tapped your energy reserves. When it’s suggested that you put on your pajamas, you do so willingly, even enthusiastically, and then it’s you who suggests some “nuggle” time, either with daddy or me. I love this time where you will lay back in my arms and just look at me with your blue eyes until you calmly drift off to sleep. Sometimes I will just sit there in the rocking chair, long after you’re asleep, cradling you, and trying to fully take advantage of these rare moments when I can hold you close, kiss your pink, pink cheeks, and study your sweet little face.
Sweet as your little face may be, it is also an outer reflection of your current inner emotion. You, my dear, have mastered the art of facial expression. A wrinkled nose and gritted teeth let daddy and I know you’re angry. Raised eyebrows and a tilted back head and we know a “Who’s Really In Charge” battle is about to begin. Big grins and squinted eyes are a sign that you’re having a good time. And, my favorite, a closed mouth smile and a calm, relaxed face and I know you’re about to say my favorite phrase of all, “I lub you”.
Your facial expressions may be easy to read, but sometimes it still takes a little bit of detective work to figure out what you are actually trying to say with words. The other day we were all in the car and you started crying and saying, “Crazies, crazies!” At first your father and I were wondering if you were lamenting the family you had been born into, but I finally figured out that you were asking for raisins. “Lippers” are slippers, “neenky” is stinky, “gramma eggs” are scrambled eggs and “dee-u-sis-lis-us” is delicious. Then there are words that need no translation at all, like “Mine!” “No!” and “Stop it!”. Sometimes there are days when these words seem to be the only ones exiting your mouth, and on those days you usually end up in a time out. Fifteen seconds after I close the door to your room, it opens, your head pops out and you make it known that you have had a complete attitude change and are now going to be a “good goi”.
You continue to be our little Xerox™ machine, repeating back the last few words of every sentence we say to you. And then you’ll add overheard phrases to your own sentences, like when you firmly tell me in the mornings that you want “pant-cakes for breakfast, okay honey?” The copying doesn’t stop with words anymore, it has now spilled over into actions, and while I go about taking care of my daily tasks, you are always right there behind me- my little mini shadow. You watch as I bounce Cash on my hip and do the same to your baby doll. When I’m cleaning the dishes, you’ll pull a chair over to the counter so you can stand by my side and do the same. When I’m scolding, you’ll put your hand on your hip, tilt your head to the side and shake your little finger at me and it’s as though I’m looking in a mirror. At this point daddy shakes his head, probably wondering how he’s going to cope when you’re older and a full-functioning version of me.
I have to say Maggie, that being your mommy is sometimes one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It is physically, mentally, and sometimes even emotionally challenging and draining. But it’s also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I love you so much that sometimes I really feel like I could burst. But something inside me must be growing to hold all that love, because each day I know you, I love you a little bit more. I’m so glad you’re mine, Maggie. These last two years have been some of the happiest of my life, and I’m looking forward to the years ahead- neenky days and all!