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Dearest Daughter of Mine,

You’re almost 2 and I feel even more overwhelmed than ever before by the presence of you in my life. In your current stage, you’re delightful and sweet. Steadfastly strong, full of emotions, and not a fan of the word “no.” Unless of course, you’re the one saying it, in which case it’s bound to be heard several times an hour. Since becoming a mommy I have grown as you have grown. Motherhood is remarkable and beautiful and natural and all of the things that I heard it would be, but I truly didn’t understand until I had you just how much I would love it.

Half of the days — no, way more than half of the days — I end up spending in stretched-out or faded leggings and a string of graphic tees that get stained and replaced from one meal and outing to the next. Even though you prefer my hair down (you shake your head violently every time I start to put it up in a ponytail), it hardly ever looks cute anymore. I haven’t forgotten who I really am. I still wear makeup and I put cute outfits on when your dad and I go out to dinner. I’m not so engrossed in my identity as a mom that I have abandoned my sense of style completely. But you, just the presence and reality of you, have shifted my priorities. And I am okay with it. Happy, even. It’s fine to me that sometimes I end up in the baby aisle at the grocery store looking like I got dragged across the floor by my hair, because you’ve taught me there are other things that matter more than looking perfect all the time. Things like getting a toddler to stop crying.

I always loved your dad, but when he became a father I learned to love him even more. I see his face in your face, and the reminder that together we made a human, strengthens the bond that was there already. You have also created together a big reason to try harder. We have a child now, a family. And it’s a lot harder to resort to our old immature tactics of storming out of the room or saying mean things, now that we have a big reason to demonstrate love and respect. That reason, of course, is you. 

You’re not aware yet, but you have done so much for me already. More than I probably deserve. I would like to thank you for all of the cuddles, from day one. For giving me a reason to slow down, put the phone in the other room, and be still for a while. Thank you for the sweet and generous grin you shoot my way when we’re reunited in the mornings and after I’ve spent the afternoon out working. Even though you are comfortable and secure in the arms of your father and other caregivers, it makes me feel incredibly special to see the look you give only to me. 

I am thoroughly aware that you will not always feel like you love me as much as you do now. If you turn out to be anything like the teenager I was, you’ll be full of eye-rolls, hair-flips, and sass. I’m okay with this and I know that we will get through it, but I’d like to thank you for giving me such a good head-start. A treasure trove of memories we are building together, so full of sunshine. I’ll need these to look back on in the tough times, and you’re giving me an awful lot.

Thank you for the hard stuff, too. For throwing things at my face and not listening to me when I ask you to do something you totally understand and choose to ignore. For pooping on my favorite little outfits of yours and for screaming at the top of your lungs in the middle of a press event I was bold enough to take you to at 15-months-old. The challenges, the setbacks, the dirt, and the tears have been incredibly important in my development as a person. You have taught me patience, darling. Something I honestly didn’t have much of before.

Being organized, controlled, and upholding the notion of “perfect” was ridiculously exhausting. In wearing me down day-to-day, you have taught me to appreciate the smallest things. I used to seek adventure out of every day; on Saturday night when you had thrown up your dinner and were freshly bathed and cuddled in bed with your dad and me (despite our no-babies-in-bed rule), I don’t think I’ve ever felt so full of love and contentment. Your hand curled into mine, your head resting on his shoulder? An old DVD cueing up as we haven’t yet hooked up cable in the new house — this precious, quiet stretch of time after sickness and stress made for one of the best Saturday nights I can remember. Thank you for teaching me that family really, truly, always comes first. 

With your birth, you made me a mom. You shifted me into the person I now am. And while being a mother is not the only thing that defines me, it’s definitely my favorite. Thank you for showing me that even in the hard times, life is incredibly precious and so is time. I cherish our moments together, even the hard ones. Not because I am pretending that they are all perfect and wonderful, but because the challenges of being your mommy are so important, too. Thank you for showing me what unconditional, bottomless, endless love really is. Being your mom is the greatest honor of my life, and I don’t always get it right. Sometimes I’m winging it, but we’re in it together. Thank you for being patient, too, while I learn the ropes. And for being the person who introduced me to the most important role of my lifetime.

I love you.

Love, Mommy 

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