i know, this is reallyyyyyy late. beyond fashionably late. but you’ll find out eventually, so you might as well find out now: i’m horrible with birthdays.
i don’t know, they’re forced. they’ve also felt so obligatory. so silo-ed. i’m more of a, let me send you flowers for no reason. let me send a card to her because i miss her so much. that kind of thing.
anyway. this isn’t about me. this is about you.
your mom, my big sister, has been nagging me about this – since i did it for year one – but i wasn’t quite sure what i wanted to say. i had to come to it on my own. it came to me today, when i was missing you so much – i just spent the weekend with you – and my heart was so full.
you’re TWO. you’re not a baby anymore. you’re walking and running and talking and ornery. you know exactly how to get your way. you have wild curls, we have no idea where you got them from. you love cake pops and puppies and boat rides. your laugh lights up the whole room. you’re squeezable and lovable and the cutest darn thing i’ve ever seen.
you’re learning so quickly, it seems everyday there’s something new. just watching you is fascinating. everyone’s always wondering what you’ll do next. but just as you’re learning, i’m learning from you too. or i’m reminded of things, even more. you’re able to bring a whole new color to a painting i would have never added before. so, at two, here are some things you’ve taught me that i hope you hold onto.
you can make someone’s whole day.
you’ve made mine hundreds of times. there was that day at the cafe when i couldn’t put you down. that time when if i walked out of the room, you had a meltdown. that afternoon you thought i was the funniest person you’d ever heard. that FaceTime when you made your mom call me back so you could blow me a kiss. that moment when you ran down the dock as fast as your little legs would take you so you could greet me. that moment when for no reason at all you squeezed me real tight and gave me a kiss.
one day last summer we baked (luckily for me, you LOVE cooking with me) and you insisted on sitting on my lap in front of the oven and watching it. it would be ridiculous to some people, but it made my whole day.
never underestimate that power. the ability to make someone’s day. whether it’s calling your grandma, or putting a ‘just because’ letter in the mail. every single day you have the opportunity to make someone’s day.
there are days when you’re exhausting. i’m sorry love, but it’s true. you don’t like to sleep – you get that from your dad – you battle naps. you are strong willed. there are days when i know your mom wants to pull her hair out. she wants to lay on the floor beside you and throw a temper tantrum too. there are days when she just wants to look at instagram for five minutes, when she just wants to catch up with an old friend but you’re demanding her undivided attention.
so she looks up. and you take your first step. you say a new word. you put that puzzle piece in the right spot. you start dancing when that song comes on.
i can’t imagine how it will be when you’re my age, everyone is already so unfocused. so zoomed in on screens. so blind to everything happening around them. it scares me, for you, for my children. will you all see the red balloon in the sky or will you be staring at whatever the Facebook of your day is? will you notice the stranger on the bus who has tears silently falling down her cheeks? will you wait until you see the shooting star?
you remind me. to disconnect. to make funny voices and make ridiculous moves, and crawl around on the ground like a horse because it makes you belly laugh.
don’t forget to look up belle, life is happening all around you. don’t miss it. look up.
it’s (still) the little things.
this is an obvious one. but when i watch you, it’s different. it’s remembering to be grateful. to really laugh. to dance. to be goofy.
my dad, chief to you, has always been good about this. this is a silly thing, but he would pick me up from the ballet studio late on weeknights – 9 pm – and i’d be so tired but he would ask me about my day, and then we’d play hangman if it was still light out, and then he’d hold my hand if i fell asleep against the seatbelt. it’s such a vivid memory from my childhood. i missed a lot of family time when i was younger because i was always at the ballet academy, but those things, they stitched patches on my heart where those missing times could’ve been.
you laugh at things no one lee laughs at, but then suddenly we’re all laughing too. you find wonder in the turtles. you find excitement in a golf cart ride.
don’t forget lil, that sometimes it’s just the kind words from a stranger, a call from your mom, just going for a walk. sometimes, it gives you a new perspective. and sometimes that’s all you ned.
eat dessert first.
if you’re anything like your dad, your sweet tooth is here to stay. i’ve always struggled with treating myself. especially when it comes to food. you remind me that sometimes it’s okay to eat a rice krispies treat at 11 am. why not? have dessert with lunch and dinner, it won’t kill you.
and beyond food, indulge in the sweet things life has to offer. spend money to travel when you should save it for a down payment. you’re only young once, and never old twice. go skydiving in the swiss alps, even though you’re shaking with fear. go on a date with the man who gives you butterflies. those things, those experiences, they’re life’s desserts for us.
get your way.
you know just what you’re doing, girlfriend. if your mom is mad at you – you run to mimi to save you. you put that bottom lip out and everyone melts. it’s actually impossible not to. i’ve tried.
while this won’t always be the case (as your timeout spots to feel like a second bedroom as mine did, you’ll start to figure this one out) i hope you don’t forget to get your way. when you really believe in it. when you’re passionate about it. when it’s the right thing.
put on that white hat, and go to battle. stand up. speak loudly. even when your voices shakes. you gather as much courage as you can, and say it anyway. know your heart. be your own best friend. learn about yourself. go against your gut, so you know how that feels and then you’ll know when you’re following it. listen to people that make you question what you believe in, stand in their shoes, look through their eyes as much as possible, and then reassess. you can change your mind, you should sometimes, but explore the other side before you stand firm. remember that no one can you make you feel inferior, except yourself.
stand firm, lily girl. know your truth. it will carry you through, i promise. believe in yourself. be brave, sweetie.
believe in love, the verb.
this has always been my motto. which is ironic, because in my heart – i’m a writer – i believe in the power of the written word.
but you – being stubborn you – don’t feel like talking much right now. you’re learning words, and i’m sure soon you’ll be chatty kathy like mimi, but for now – you speak in other ways. you grab our hand and lead the way. you point – and show us.
you’ve reminded me, that it’s the doing. it’s the moving and shaking and the showing up that matters. say ‘i love you’ out loud, as often as you can. but don’t forget to say it by grabbing someone’s hand and leading the way, by pointing at the really beautiful thing you see, by taking them there, by showing them.
let them feel it – being stitched onto their heart. indelibly, irrevocably. be that kind of love.
and don’t forget – you are unrepeatable, irreplaceable, and unique and the day you were born the world changed for the better because you are in it. There never was or ever will be anyone like you because you are special.
i love you something fierce lily girl.