Dear, dearest, dearie little Tadi.
You are two now. I took you up to the mountains alone. Just you and I. You rolled down your window and watched the trees whizz by. I watched you in my rear view mirror, pursed my lips, my eyes tightened. What is it about time and memories and love that make you so incredibly happy and so desperately sad at the same time?
We parked. I pulled you from your car seat, your underarms first, with your little feet following slightly behind. I asked you questions as you rode my hip out to the lake. To everything you said, "Nyaaaa". And one time you rubbed my arms, craned your neck to see my face and said, "Mahhhhhhmmmmy", with a soothing tone and proud smile. You do love me, that I know.
You've got these legs and ankles to die for. Flat feet, just like me, with knobby knees that always turn and look toward each other. And a crease on the back of your thigh! The last of my babies to have one still! I admire it every day.
You're kind. And then other times, not so kind. For instance, you like to hit your sisters and then pull back to watch what happens next. Always a fun activity. Watching them writhe in pain on the couch, you just a few feet away looking guilty. You're always, always teasing. Lillie's your favorite because she acts like everything you do and say is a direct assault on her character, which, it probably is.
Your two older sisters dote on you. Ask to see every photo I take of you, ask to be the one to give you treats. They just can't get enough of you. You're pliable and loving, and they want a piece of you. They bribe you to sit on their laps and they go steal kisses from you after you fall asleep promptly at 7:30.
The night you turned two, I put the three girls to bed and let you stay up, bathed in the twilight of May 14th. Time was humbled as you played with your new baby, bottles and baby wagon in the silence of the evening. The temperature outside matched your body and a little breeze played at our hair as I laid just inside the door watching you. I finally set my camera down and sank into my elbows, my fingers running circles over my mouth as I tried to get a handle on my emotions.
The truth is, you're my gift, my reward. The culmination of my hard work in the trenches of motherhood. You are always at the other end of my outstretched hands, the ones that longed for you and were satisfied only after I finally held you in my arms two short years ago. You're there on my hip, when I try to be a mother to a 9 year old. You keep me grounded, frantic and young.
Your eyes and nose and mouth are a carbon copy of me, your silliness a reflection of all of us, your fight is all yours, and my baby, you will always be.