Ellie’s 1st Birthday Letter

Ellie turned 3 today, May 18th! When she came into my room this morning, MJ and I were already snuggling together, and though we welcomed the birthday girl with cheery greetings, she was her normal morning-grump-a-roo. Sadly, her mood did not improve much throughout the day, but we did have good moments and continued celebrating! As we snuggled, I told the story of the day she was born. Then we enjoyed reading the Dr. Seuss “Happy Birthday to You!” and Sandra Boynton “Birthday Monsters” books, a birthday ritual.  Then the children had there normal computer time, watching “Mr. Rogers” birthday celebration episode with our favorite alternate birthday song that we like to sing to people. (see episode, “Celebrations: Henrietta’s Birthday“.) Daddy came home from a night at work and made us pancakes with sprinkles, and we gave a Ellie a few gifts – kitty cat books and a “Hello Kitty” lunch box, play dough and Mars Mud. While MJ was at his last day of school, Ellie and I had a special “Mommy and Me” date to the Texas Discovery Butterfly Gardens where she maliciously stepped on a poor innocent butterfly, taking its life. I was horrified, though not that surprised, and properly shamed her by having her confess and apologize to the lady who worked there, taking her to the dead butterfly. After that, we sat quietly for a while on a rock where she told me that she didn’t like being there with just me – she wanted to be with some other people, too. So, it wasn’t exactly the special morning I’d hoped for, but we did have some good moments.

I wanted to share with you these letters that I have written each year on her birthday as an “intentional” gift to her that someday I will pass along. I began this birthday ritual for my children when MJ turned 1, and I find it is a meaningful way for me to slow down and reflect on her development, our relationship, special memories. It really engenders an overwhelming sense of gratitude and celebration for the gift of these special children in my life. And that’s what birthdays should be all about – giving thanks and celebrating the presence of a particular person and their particular gifts in your life! (Even if they are not currently your favorite person in the world, perhaps especially if they are not currently your favorite person in the world.) Looking back, and more letters to come…

May 18, 2010

My sweet Ellie,

I can’t believe you are turning 1 already! In many ways, this year has flown by in the ways that you have grown and changed so quickly. It’s hard for me to even think back to those early days and months when you were a tiny newborn. I was so overwhelmed and  tired, and unable to enjoy you very much, unfortunately. But now, a year later, I am finally coming up for air, and I see that you have become my “spunky little sweetheart”, full of personality and demanding my attention! I am really getting to see your fun-loving personality, giggling as you crawl away from us, making us chase you for a diaper change. And, already, you are expressing yourself so assertively regarding your wishes, even before you have the words. (Right now this takes the form of throwing your sippy cup on the floor with a vigorous head shake, and demanding breast-milk, Or letting out a firm yell of displeasure when brother takes a toy from you. You will not be messed with, little girl, and I like that about you.)  I’m hoping this assertiveness will serve you well in life, helping you to stand up for yourself in relationships, in school, in career.

You are such a loving and affectionate little girl, snuggling with Mommy and patting me cheerfully on the shoulder whenever I get you up from the crib. You lean in to “kiss” Mommy and Daddy, and blow kisses to others. And you snuggle more with your big brother than anyone else, but my favorite times are when the three of us snuggle in Mommy’s bed like you two are my little lion cubs. Your big brother simply adores you, “Eh-wee”. It is the most rewarding feeling I’ve ever had to see the two of you together. He loves to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to you each night when I lay you down, and then he does the rhyme, “What a wonderful child you are!” version, and it is so sweet.

Other than “buh-buh” (brother), your other favorite things are balls, balloons, books, your “Beffa blanket”, and your “baby”. For your birthday party, we had a family celebration at GareBear and Beffa’s. Uncle Jake and Aunt Sarah were there (in for the weekend from Chicago), and Mimi and Gigidad (just a few weeks before he passed away). We brought the tunnel, some balls, and blew up balloons to play with. You and brother had such fun playing on the den floor together, crawling through the tunnel and chasing balloons. In his last days, Gigidad said that he got so much joy out of watching you two together that day. You got to know him in those weeks, would lean in to kiss him, and make his tired eyes just light up!

I knew I loved you before you ever emerged from my womb. My ritual was to close my eyes and breathe in “health, love, and peace” to you, sending them to you as if through my bloodstream. And I would sometimes sing to you when I went to bed, “Goodnight, My Someone, Goodnight My Love” from the Music Man.  I thought you were going to be a boy, but of course, I hoped you’d be a daughter, and how thrilling when Daddy delivered you safely to me, and said, “It’s a girl!”  What a privilage it will be to raise a strong, confident, loving daughter. What a special feeling to have a daughter to be close to, to connect with, to be friends with, to learn from, and I am especially thankful that my daughter is YOU.

I love you to the moon and back,

Your Mommy

Goodnight, My Someone

(your lullaby, that I began singing to you in the womb before I knew who you were going to be, then added the new verse just for you!)

Goodnight, my someone, goodnight, my love, 

Sleep tight, my someone, sleep tight, my love. 

The stars are shining their perfect light, 

So goodnight, my someone, goodnight. 

Sweet dreams be yours, dear, if dreams there be. 

Sweet dreams to carry you close to me. 

I wish I may and I wish I might, 

so goodnight, my someone, goodnight. 

Goodnight, my someone, I used to say

Until your birth on the 18th of May. 

I held my baby, and then I knew, 

Ellie Kate, my someone is you. 

I’m so glad my someone is you. 

I thank God my someone is you!

See MJ’s letters