To Josie, 14 days into her 3rd Year
Sweet Josephine Marie,
With 14 joyful days completed in your third year of life, I am finally making the time to wish you an internet happy birthday. Please forgive my tardiness as you quit napping almost two years earlier than your brother, and the afternoons just aren’t as productive in the way that they once were. But, a heart as creative and wild as the hair on your head can’t be slowed down for sleep. I am very much looking forward to each day of this third year with you, but it’s hard to say goodbye to 2, an age you mastered with intelligence, mess, and coordination far beyond my expectations of toddler.
Yours and your siblings birthdays turn me into an even crazier mom. My emotions recounting your birth story keep me up at night, and I stress about how to make the day perfect. And yet, every year, and especially this year, you teach me to calm down and “celebrate the morning.” With only one “its my party and I’ll cry if I want to,” moment of the whole day revolving around Rita’s attempt to steal your candy filled pencil case, I’d say you taught me well.
Each day you wake with a sweet, sparkly eyed, scrunched nose smile that asks for nothing but a hug. A few minutes into the morning you use your sweetness in an attempt to acquire several pieces of cake or candy, and it is very difficult to say no. So sometimes I don’t. And neither does Dad.
And speaking of Dad, wrapped around his finger is a lame description of the way you have with him. You will fish with him for hours, watch hockey with him for days, ice skate with him until your toes are blue and fingers are frozen. You will shovel snow, plant vegetables, dig the dirt, kick a soccer ball, sit on his lap, finish a container of salsa only with him. You will not, however, collect hockey cards, and for that, I’m sort of thankful because one safe full of 20 year old bubble gum is enough. You received his patience and kindness in a very special and unique way. Its a kind of generosity that sees the best in others with a total focus on them, no matter what that means for you. For instance, in a race, if the boys next door cheer for your opponent you will join in the cheer and help him win. Or when we pick up James at school and he shares a special opportunity, you can’t help but rejoice in his excitement. Or when I asked you what you most wanted for your birthday, you responded, “presents for James and Rita, and a real princess and one balloon.” Mammy took care of the ‘real princess’ part by showing up as Princess Leia, and believe me when I say, you were thrilled by her craziness and creativity.
On Mother’s Day, you said your favorite thing about me was that I will be the one “to hug so many trees with you when you grow up.” As a fiscally conservative, pro-life libertarian, I’d say you are the only hippie who could ever convince me to do such a thing.
Your style is a tomboy’s version of bohemian chic, and God picked the most perfect head of hair for such an aesthetic. Your eyes are a striking brown, with very long eyelashes, and your smile is as contagious as your belly laugh. You will eat an entire gyro by yourself. You will sing made up songs at the tippy top of your voice while climbing a tree. Your comedic timing to pull a prank on your big brother puts your dad and Me in hysterical laughter. Your strong feminine presence, even in its early years, changes the behavior of the 6 boys next door (most of the time).
The quality you share most with me is that you tend to crash your bike into trees pretty frequently.
You are spiritually sensitive, and naturally empathetic. Even though you are convinced that Jesus was killed while swimming with sharks in the ocean, you ask how you can make it better. The best part of your day is often a moment you witnessed someone else enjoy, rather than a moment you had for yourself.
You rarely ask for help and approach problems with skillful confidence. And even though sometimes it means you are wearing your pants backwards and shirt inside out, the pride of getting dressed alone is worth the comments from strangers.
You continue to teach me to approach the world with humor and vigor, adventure and freedom.
At one point on most days, your dad and I tend to look at your long curly blond curls as they spunkily bounce in each of your decisions and ponder at the marvel of your creation. While each of the three of you is a clear gift from God, His creative power is revealed to us in a very special way through you. While there are certainly glimmers of your father and me in what you do and say, there is something so breathtakingly wild, and freely generous about your general state of being that both of us know we couldn’t have created on our own, or even together, without a little help from the Big Man. I admire the way you look at life, my curiously mischievous, perfectly weird, impossible to catch or convince, sweet and so very pretty little girl.