Me and my girl – I can hardly put words to how fantastic it is having a 2 year-old daughter. Despite the tantrums, long nights, picky eating and wrestling matches to get her dressed, I just love her to bits. (And she is actually really very good most of the time! :))
When I was a child, I used to spend hours in our playhouse above the garage with my dolls. We had a comfy, squeaky old chair upholstered in a faded Revolutionary War Fife & Drum Corps print, and I would rock my babies there for hours, singing every song I knew as the rain pattered on the roof overhead. I loved those first “children” of mine, and I dreamed of the dozen or so I would one day have with my husband.
I have to say, Evelyn is 100 times harder to care for than I ever imagined in my childish dreams. But she is also 200 times more delightful, and as with most of life’s lessons, the best surprises are in the little things.
I adore kissing her soft, sticky cheeks in the morning, when she smells like oatmeal and raisins and juice. I love it when she covers her eyes and counts as best she can to signal a game of Hide and Seek. I get a warm feeling in my chest when she holds my hand, and when she goes so far as to climb up on my lap for a cuddle, I glow with joy. I anticipate daily the welcome I get when I come home or meet her on the town, a huge smile and a shout of “Mama!” that’s meant just for me. And – ask Frank, he’ll back me up – I get all choked up and teary nearly every night when I tuck her into bed and see her little face smiling up at me, eyes inquisitive and mischievous, her sweet voice telling me “Night, Night!”
Sometimes I feel too tired or busy to play with her, but as we are her main playmates, I usually give in and sit crosslegged on the floor to stack a tower of blocks or take cup after cup after cup of tea she so daintily serves me. Soon, I forget all about my fatigue or the dishes in the sink and I just let myself get lost in her play. If I’m trying to cook or clean and she’s in the way, it’s so easy to get frustrated and shoo her into the other room, but when I take the time to give her a bowl of flour and a big wooden spoon to “share” in my work, the reward is so much fun. (A lot to clean up later! But worth the fun.)
My favourite moments with Evelyn lately, however, are the ones when she is not watching, when I get to discover what she’s learned while I wasn’t looking. I’m constantly stifling my laughter and my surprised gasps when I sneak a glance from around a corner and find out she is using her imagination to turn household items into part of her games. Empty caps from laundry detergent bottles suddenly become boats for her dolls and a cloth left on the counter is first a blanket for her kitty and then a hotpad when she’s picking up her toy cooking pot. The lid to a box becomes a tray for her tea set and a lone string on the ground turns into a jumping rope, though she’s not quite sure how to do it yet. All the while, she’s chattering away, using full sentences and big words I’m confounded to know how she slipped into her vocabulary – “Mmm, really delicious!” “Is that Mama’s computer?” “Is Georgie outside?” “Baby have some breakfast.” “Go-go Nana’s car? Go-go shops?” “That’s all right Daddy, I’m sorry.”
She’s very clear about what she wants – she puts on her scarf, coat and hat when she decides it’s time to go out, and she will politely tell us “All done!” when she takes a single look at a dinner she finds less-than-appetizing. It’s difficult not to spoil her sometimes, because I’m just amazed at how clever she can be. I always thought I’d be better at keeping a baby book to mark all these things, but I’m afraid I’ve neglected it and a lot of the dates have just gone out of my head. But hopefully, this blog and the other notes I’m storing away will give her a view of her life’s story from when she was just a very little girl, and she will know what an immense treasure she is to me.
As my friend Josh said on Facebook recently after the birth of his son, “Ohhhhhh… so THIS is what life is all about.”