You have now been two years old for a little more than 24 hours. How is it possible that two years have already gone by since you came into our lives? It feels like it was just yesterday, but at the same time, I also have to try really hard to remember what things were ever like without you here— it kind of feels like you have always been here. I could never fully explain to you how much I love you, how proud I am of you, and how much you changed my life for the better, but I will try. (I will note that the pregnancy hormones this time around seem way worse for me, so I will note that I am already crying as I type this and i haven’t even gotten to the mushy stuff yet!)
If I could sum up your personality in a few words… they would be: happy, smart, sweet, hilarious, and independent. You are quite the combination of those five things, baby girl.
You have the most infectious smile and laugh. When you get to giggling (Daddy is REALLY good at making you do this), you make everyone around you laugh, too. It is a sound I wish I could bottle up and listen to any time I am feeling down. People often ask me, “is she always this happy?”, and my answer is always “yes, pretty much!”. Of course you have your days, but in general, you are so happy. On those days when I am worrying about what kind of job I am doing as your Mommy, I see that smile and hear that giggle and I know that I must be doing something right!
You are so. smart. The information you retain and remember astounds me on a daily basis— it is impossible to get anything past you, either, because you don’t forget ANYTHING. Your Meemaw tells me that I was exactly the same way at your age— with a photographic memory that surprised her every day. It makes me so proud each time you spout off with a new word or phrase or when I see things just “click” for you. You are so curious and I bet I get asked “Mommy, what’s this?” at least 100 times a day. I usually only have to tell you once and you remember it from then on. I talk to you just like I would talk to your Daddy or a friend when we’re together—I feel like you really are my little BFF. It makes me laugh when I hear you later repeat something I have said and you sound SO OLD; I just want to tell you to stop being so big! You are talking in complete sentences more often than not these days, and people often comment on how clearly you speak and how many words you know.
There has been a recurring theme on literally every single note that I have gotten each week from your preschool teachers. Every one has started out with, “Hadley is so sweet”. The nursery workers at church and the MOPS childcare providers tell me the same thing. Of course, I know you are sweet to me, but I certainly love hearing that you are sweet to others! Perhaps my proudest moment to date involving this came at your preschool Christmas party last week, when one of your teachers told me “Hadley is so sweet. She uses such great manners and is so nice to the other kids. She is always including the others when she is playing and makes sure that no one is left out.” Now, at two years old, I am not sure how exactly you do this, but the fact that they thought enough about this to mention it to me made me swell with pride. I hope you are always sweet to everyone and that you continue the same kind of inclusive behavior throughout your life. It is an important parenting goal of mine (and your Daddy’s, too) to teach you to love everyone, no matter their differences. I am so happy that you seem to have inherited your Daddy’s sweet nature, and the fact that (for now) this means that you give tons of hugs and kisses is only the icing on the cake. ;)
You make me laugh more than I thought I ever could. Not a day goes by that I don’t text or call your Daddy and say, “you won’t believe what Hadley just said” or “oh my goodness, your child just ____”. You are certainly mischievous, which (at least now) is quite funny— when you are doing something that you know you aren’t supposed to be doing and I walk in and catch you, you will say “bye bye, Mommy” or just “Mommy, leave!” in hopes that I will just walk away and let you continue doing whatever it is that you were doing (nice try, sister…not happening, ha!). You are also currently on a first name kick with me, where you call me “Steph” about 50% of the time. I have tried ignoring it, and when I do that, you just yell it louder (“Steph, Steeeeeeph, STEEEPPPPHHHHHH, STEPHANIEEEEEEE!”), and when I correct you and say, “No, Hadley, my name is Mommy”, you will say “ok Steph”. I try not to laugh, because I know it just encourages you… but how can I not?! You are also a total ham and will do things over and over when you see that it makes people laugh or cheer for you. You make sure that we are watching you by saying “See, Mommy, see Daddy, see!!!”. I bet the words “you are a mess” come out of my mouth no less than 20 times a day, so much so, in fact, that you have started saying “Hadley a mess” after you do something that you know is funny. I can already foresee the type of notes that are going to be sent home from your teachers in school… ha!
"I do it Hadley’s self" is a phrase that I hear repeatedly each day. You are so, so independent and don’t want my help with anything (unless you end up getting so impatient that you pitch a fit and yell "HELP MOMMY!!", but that’s another subject…). It can be something as simple as trying to cut your food or something funny like me trying to sing along with you as you sing your ABCs ("No sing, Mommy, I SING IT BY HADLEY’S SELF!"), but you always want to at least try it yourself before letting me help you. I am totally ok with this—I love watching you try to figure things out on your own, especially when you get so excited when you get it right. I hope you keep your independent spirit, because I know it will help to ensure that you grow into a confident, successful young woman.
This year, things have been 100% about you at our house. Our lives completely revolve around you and you alone— and I think you have enjoyed our little arrangement. ;) While you do know that there is a baby in Mommy’s belly and love to talk to “baby Stephen”, I know that you aren’t really sure what you’re in for when he arrives in a few months. I admit that I am nervous about splitting my time and attention between the two of you, especially when you are used to getting my undivided attention. But then I remember how much I love my siblings and how they really are like built-in best friends… and I know we will all be just fine. I hope you know that you will always be special to me, baby girl, and I will never love you any less than I do right now—it is a love that grows every single day.
I can’t finish this letter without thanking you for all of the ways you have changed my life. I have [admittedly] been pretty selfish my whole life—but when you came along, you taught me what it truly means to put someone else’s needs and wants 100% before my own. Looking back, I can barely remember all those expensive things that I thought I needed or just had to have that really were just “things”. At the risk of sounding incredibly cheesy, you and your Daddy (and soon-to-be baby brother) are really the only things I “need” now. When you are happy, it makes me indescribably happy, and when you are sad or hurting, I would do anything to take it from you.
You have also taught me patience—something I thought I may be too old to ever learn. I surprise even myself sometimes with the way I am learning to deal with situations that would usually set me over the edge. For you, it is worth it to be patient and to use those situations as a learning experience for both you and me.
You have also, for lack of a better word, softened me. I have never been an extremely affectionate person, but with you, I feel so much love that it’s impossible not to show it through some sort of affection—I bet I tell you I love you 50 times a day, and that is certainly not all the times I think it. And even though you sometimes tell me, “no more kisses, Mommy”, I think you secretly love them… and I love it the most when I get the random, unannounced ones from you. I know it sounds corny, but there are so many times when I feel like my heart could burst from all the love I feel.
Finally, you have made me fall more in love with your Daddy and our little family than I ever thought was possible. Seeing the two of you together does something to me that I can’t explain—I can only say that I have never been more proud of the man that I married and of the awesome Daddy he is to you. We are so blessed to have him, and I know without a doubt that he would do anything for either of us. I know you know it, too, with the way that you look at him and the way that you love and trust him without reservation. And as much as I wish you were “Mommy’s girl”, I know I don’t have a chance of taking away “Daddy’s girl”. And I’m ok with that. ;)
So, happy, happy 2nd birthday, sweet pea. Thank you for being you and for all the joy you bring to us. And do me a favor, ok? Let’s not let all the years go by as quickly as this one did—Mama isn’t ready for you to grow up. I love you more than you will ever know!