Well, sweet Eloise, as I type this, it’s midnight on the dot and officially your birthday. I’m taking a step back to let this sink in a bit, and I probably will all day tomorrow, too. Watching you grow is a miracle in itself–no less than the miracle of your beautiful birth one year ago. I can’t imagine ever forgetting that day or how I felt when your daddy announced it was you. You are everything I sensed deeply that you’d be, and far more.
For so much of this past year, you felt like this tiny little baby–strong and able, certainly, but still so vulnerable and attached in a way that took me a little by surprise. Perhaps I hurried Henry along too much the first time, or maybe it was just all of those nights snuggled close together, you and I, until we figured out how to get you comfortable and settled into your own skin. No matter, you were just little little in my head until not more than two months ago, when suddenly you became this person with thoughts and opinions and an ability to express them. I have marveled at this change in you as you’ve asserted yourself into a very distinct place in our family. The dinner table is often where this is most notable–you contribute to the conversation in your own way, making us laugh and engaging each of us around you on a remarkable level for someone so small.
You are petite, your features, strikingly delicate. You are all girl, and while so young and tiny, you tease glimpses of your future self with regularity now. I envision conversations with you in your adolescent years and wonder how our equally strong and resilient wills will blend or clash for a time. I pray to the end that we will love deeply enough not to be separated by this. Holding you close for this past year has bonded my heart to you in a way I didn’t know to expect with a second child–not because a mother can really love any of her children more than the next, but because I’ve loved your brother so intently that I once worried I might not be able to love you with the same kind of intensity. Indeed my worries were for naught. I love you both, equally and differently, together and individually. I treasure you just as I treasure Henry. The joy of loving you both so deeply is often hard to express.
We celebrated your birthday this past weekend with family and dear friends we consider family, and every bit of the celebration was in honor of incredible little you! I got wrapped up in the details of things as I so often do, but only because I wanted it to be both perfectly Eloise and and perfectly welcoming in every way. I can’t speak to the latter, but everywhere I looked on Saturday, there were traces of you. Indications of your sweetness and joy and the way you radiate light in all of our lives. I could burst just thinking about it, really. The sun shone brightly all day, a warm breeze blew fabric buntings and vintage table cloths, flower petals and paper napkins in our backyard. All of your friends laughed and played and gathered together on the big patchwork blanket for a picnic lunch, and all the while I just couldn’t stop thinking about how stinking amazingly blessed we were to park on such a beautiful scene. You are the why for every little detail. Every. Single. One. And the reason nearly forty of us would gather to sing and eat and pray on a bright, sunny Saturday in the summertime.
Now, as we turn the page on your first year and head enthusiastically into your second, I am trailing traces of the tiny babe I’ve had by my side for all but hours at a time since one year ago. You’ll have to forgive me as I bring them along for a time, but as much as I can embrace how you’ve grown and changed, baby Eloise is going to linger a bit longer in my heart. I know it’s not long before I’m called to turn towards toddlerhood and a walking, talking, articulating version of you–I’m just going to take it slow while I’m able.
In the morning, you will push your little red baby buggy around the house, filled with your baby dolls and treasured things, and you’ll look up to check in with me every few steps as if to say, “I’m doing fine, right mama? Do you see me?” And I will see you and reassure you of both things, and you will go on–you gaining a little more independence with each step and me trying hard not to tear up a little at the new you. In just over nine hours we’ll toast to your birth, then later, we’ll all devour leftover birthday cake and button cupcakes from the weekend’s festivities in your honor. All day long I’ll look at you and praise God for you with such deep thankfulness, just as I seek to do everyday. And all day long we’ll sing to you and teach you how to raise your finger to declare your “ONEness,” and we’ll look for ways to celebrate just how marvelously marvelous your are.
You are Eloise. You are ONE. And while you do not live at the Plaza Hotel, you are certainly as precious and precocious and delightful as another little Eloise I know and love…
may you move mountains in this lifetime, my dear. and may God protect you and provide for you all that you need for your whole life long! happy first birthday, my eloise josephine!!