Happy Birthday, Mia Bean!
You are two years old today, and what a day it was. It started with counting to ten all on your own (I didn't see it, but your father swears that he only helped a little bit with six) and culminated in a two mile ride on your new tricycle wearing your new pink helmet and new ladybug boots with your new purse hooked over your elbow. In between there was a party with all the crackers and strawberries and beach pizza you could eat and a pile of presents that officially pushed us over the line from "a bit cramped" to "totally outgrown this house."
We've been talking about your birthday for weeks, and when it finally arrived, you knew it. You told us all day that it was Mia's birthday and that you were having a party and who was coming and what we were eating and how old you were. You even try to hold two fingers up to show us, but your hand won't quite cooperate yet. You loved the balloons and the rainbows and all the decorations, which earned a "wow" or two when we brought you downstairs this morning, and tried really hard to blow out your own candles. Mama only helped a little bit.
You are not a baby anymore, you are trying so hard to be a big girl. Last week you insisted that I remove your booster seat and now take all your meals in your "big girl chair," which is a stool on a regular chair. It isn't all that different than a booster seat, but there are no buckles and that independence is very important to you. We are working hard on sitting with your legs under the table and asking to be excused before you get down, and you almost always do pretty well at both.
I sometimes can't believe that the independent little girl running away from me at top speed is the same child who spent her first year glued to my hip all day every day. You still run to me if you are startled or frightened and insist that "mama hug," and sometimes demand a mama hug or kiss just because you feel like it, but more often than not you are happy to play on your own for a while or to chat with the checker at the grocery store or wander off to explore the neighborhood and insist that I sit on the sidewalk rather than following you too closely so that Mama doesn't cramp your style.
Last week, Nana and Papa took you to their house and then to the park. You were gone for four and a half hours, which is longer than I have ever left you with anyone other than your father, and precious few times even with him. You had a blast, a great adventure, and never once whined or cried for mama. When you got tired, you simply asked to go to Mia's house. I missed you like crazy and worried the entire time, but I admit that I also enjoyed it a bit. I love being with you and spending most of my time with you, but it was nice to know that you could go out into the world without me for a little while and enjoy yourself. I was, and am, so proud of you for being such a brave little girl.
I can't believe how much you talk. You repeat nearly everything you hear, and with few exceptions they are actual, intelligible words. Most things are a sentence these days too, and you sometimes even remember to say please and thank you without being prompted. Your latest words are "now" and "need," and you seem to need absolutely everything now. You are generally very sweet about it though, rarely crossing the line into demanding or petulant. Even so, I think patience is going to be our next assignment.
You have an incredible memory. You hear or see or do something once and weeks later it pops back out, in context. Three weeks ago, your Papa told you that hickory nuts falls down and go "boink." At their house on Friday, you picked up a hickory nut, threw it at the ground and said "boink." You know things that I am sure we have not taught you, that you have picked up from watching and listening and from figuring it out on your own. Like counting to ten, although I think Elmo must deserve some of the credit for that one.
Mia Bean, two years ago today I held you in my arms for the first time, met you for the first time, hugged and kissed you for the first time. I can hardly imagine what that was like anymore, because it seems like you have always been here, always been a part of us and of our lives. These past two years have been amazing and beautiful and fun, but also very challenging. You were a perfect, easy baby in a lot of ways, and a very difficult baby in a lot of other ways. All those difficulties and challenges are gone now, outgrown or solved or discarded along the way, and you are just this totally amazing, sweet, happy, kind, giving, beautiful little girl. I know that there are many more challenges ahead of us, especially with all the major changes we will go through this year, but I am looking forward to them. I can't wait to see what comes next, even if some of those things are problems to solve or issues to help you work through. I know who you are now. I've seen your character and your heart, and I know that those things will carry you through whatever is to come, through your whole life. And I am just happy, so very happy, that we are all in this together.