This is the conversation we had on the car ride home yesterday afternoon:
Mumma: Madeline, it's your birthday tomorrow!
Mumma: Yes, it's your birthday! You're going to be two!
Maddie: (covering eyes) No!
Mumma: What do you mean no? You don't want a birthday?
Mumma: You don't want to be two?
Maddie: (sad voice) No....
Mumma: Do you want to stay Mumma's baby?
On the ride to school this morning, I sang "Happy Birthday" and you covered your face and squeezed your eyes shut the same way you do when a noisy motorcylce passes by. It could have been my terrible singing voice, but it seems like you're uncomfortable with having a birthday. Apparently, at just twent-four months, you are already dreading growing a year older.
Don't worry, sweet girl, you will always be Mumma's baby. Even when you're 16 and hate being seen in public with me. Even when you're busy raising a family of your own. Even if I live to be 100. Always.
Two years ago today, I headed into a seemingly ordinary day of work only to have my water break while standing in line at Dunkin Donuts. You really love the bagels at Dunkin Donuts, so maybe you were eager to join me for breakfast. This morning we stopped by (a different) Dunks, and I bought you a bagel as a special birthday treat. You devoured it quickly, leaving a cream cheese beard in its wake.
I remember driving to the hospital with your dada on the morning you were born. It was a beautiful, sunny fall day just like today. We listened to the playlist I had made for my labor, enjoyed the view, breathed through some contractions, and chatted in hurried, nervous sing-song voices. Mostly, I remember the excitement of knowing we were about to meet you.
The rest of the day is a blur punctuated by brief moments of clarity. I remember how you stopped crying and looked right at me the moment you heard my voice. Your face was new to me then, but when I think back to that moment, the face I see in my memory is so familar to me now. As much as you've grown and changed, some facial expressions have remained the same.
You slept noisly that first night. You whimpered softly to yourself as if you were trying to wrap your mind around the trauma of being born. I remember lying beside you, barely sleeping, as I watched and listened for your every move. I wondered what you were dreaming about. What does a baby, who has no experience with the world yet, see when she drifts off to sleep?
Last night, just as I do every night, I checked on you before heading to bed myself. You were curled up in your crib with a blanket over you. I rubbed the curls on your head a few times and you whimpered softly in your sleep. As I got you dressed for school this morning, I asked you was you dreamed last night. You told me about a blue sticker and butterflies.
I'm looking forward to celebrating your birthday with you this weekend even if you're not thrilled by the idea. I feel that celebrating your birth should be a national holiday.
And even though your first birthday last year was a very big deal, I feel that we've reached an even more significant milestone. It's the end of your babyhood. You're a child now. But as I said, you'll always be my little baby. Always.