Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Five years and a day

I am a day late.  Please don't ever think it has anything to do with anything other than how amazing and crazy life has been these past few months.  My beautiful five year old girl.  You still have the face of a baby.  I look back at pictures of your first, second, third and fourth birthday today, and while you have changed some, I can still see that sweet baby face.  You look the same.  The sweet baby cheeks have shrunk, your hair is less wispy but still covers your face in soft strings that somehow never seem to affect you at all, and I have to hold myself back from brushing them out of your face.  But I shouldn't, and I usually don't.  As much as I want to smooth that hair, that hair is you.  And you are so perfect on your own.  You even cut your own hair this year.  I waited in shock when I saw it, and you just calmly replied that you wanted to cut it, so you did.  Very matter-of-fact.  Because that's you.

Your voice is still sweet, and accented with the sing-songy way young children speak.  Your voice is still so much a baby, but your words, ha!  You have us all reeling with laughter and pure amazement with your incredible vocabulary.  We don't know where or how you learn it, but you accurately use language far beyond our expectations, and I'm thrilled and proud and amazed all at once.  You are so clever, you never mispronounce or misuse these words.  This makes me think that you hear things, study them, analyze them until you're sure it's right.  When you speak, you don't boast.  You just calmly and correctly use these words as though you always have.  You aren't showy, and I think our amazement even embarrasses you a little.

Your preschool teacher laughed as she told me when you reported a student friend for "being inappropriate".  At four years old.  You are so curious as to how things work.  You also have a wise ass comment for everything, like just tonight when I said you can have one toy in your back packs, but nothing else.  Of course you had to eyeball me and say " what about our lunch boxes? You said nothing else?".

That is exactly what I love so much about you.  Don't ever change that.

You love routine and fairness.  You'll defend your big sister and give her anything she wants, even if there's only one and it's yours,  you truly want to see her happy.  You will, however, defend yourself as well.  I'm still not sure who starts it, but usually it ends after you both get in some hits.

I never imagined what you would be like after your baby sister was born.  I thought there must be some jealousy.  It's only natural.  You were, after all, our baby for four years.  You still crawled into bed with us at night.  I worried so much you would resent the baby, beg for attention, act out or worse of all, feel sad.  But you blew us away again.  How could I have ever thought you would do anything different?  You took to your sister as though she was always part of our lives.  You loved her instantly and completely.  You have never once shown any jealousy, any frustrations.  Even as the mature adult, the experienced mother, I get frustrated plenty.  But not you.  Even when I have nothing to give you, even when you need me and I just can't, you never get upset.  You simply and gracefully accept it and offer even more love.  You inspire me so much.  I want to be more like you.

You are deeply empathetic. You are incredibly clever.  You are adorably expressive.  You are funny.  Really funny.  Your humor is goofy but clever and well-timed.  You are giving, selfless, and kind.  You are the brightest light in my day.  Your eyes, your voice, your words, your hugs.

You are five years old.  You are my baby.  You are love.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

When you turn six

You turn six in twenty minutes.  I have only twenty minutes to somehow describe this entire past year with you, watching you grow, watching you read, write, add and subtract.  Letting you go a little more everyday, as you lunge forward into life, and a little father from needing me.

I know I say it every year, but I'll keep repeating it as I am always reminded of you as a baby with every passing birthday anniversary.  It's hard to see the baby in your face anymore, but you never really were a baby anyway.  It's like you were never meant to be an infant, and you protested it in the only way you could, by screaming your lungs out for a year, maybe longer.  I no longer truly remember the misery of your infancy, only that it happened, but it's been long replaced by the joys you bring me now.

I still can see the world-weary soul I know lives deep within when I look into your eyes.  They turn down slightly at the corners, giving your features a saddened look, as if you have lived a hundred lives before.  There is a tiny scar at the corner of your eye, barely recognizable to someone who doesn't stare at your face, but it's there, and it accentuates the slope of your outer eye, even impersonating a tear at times if the light catches it just so.

You don't see me do this often, but I stare at you constantly, you look as though you are always deep in thought, worlds away.  Sometimes my heart aches for you, because of the burden it looks like you carry.  But then you catch me and smile, with your toothy grin and all the sadness disappears and I see only pure love and joy in you.

You don't tell me much.  I miss you all day and when you come home I want nothing more than a complete play-by-play of what you did at school, who you played with, what bothered you, everything.  But you keep me at bay.  Once we talked for an hour about everything.  You spoke with such passion and gifpddiness about your day, it made me realize you actually really love school.  I had assumed maybe you didn't, I was fooled by your eyes again.  I wish we had these conversations everyday, but I know I can't push you hear, you get to decide what you want to tell me.  But please, tell me everything.  I want to absorb all of your experiences, all of your happiness, excitement, your dear and sadness.  I want it all in me too.  I want to share your joy, I want to shoulder your burden.  But that's yours to share.

Six is different.  You're in first grade.  There is no disguising you growing up, your independence, how your brain is absorbing so much more in a day than mine can in a month.  Little things still make you so happy.  You have no idea how much it means to me when you say "this is the best day ever"

I know you say it often, I don't care.  It fills me with joy knowing you feel that way, even if only for a minute.  I also revel in the fact that you often call me the best momma ever, of course you have no idea what you're talking about, my love, I'm not even close.  You deserve better than I could ever be, but I love you so much I will spend my life trying to be better everyday for you.

You are such a caring sister.  You melted into that role as easily with your new sister as you did at 18 months old with your first sister.  Once again, it just seemed as though you were destined to be the oldest, the caretaker.  You weren't meant to be taken care of yourself.  I know your sisters will always look up to you, and you will be far too eager to reach them what you know.  

I spy on you.  Sorry, but I won't ever stop.  I catch you reading to your sisters, covering them with blankets, laughing with them as you talk in your made up languages.  Nothing makes me happier than hearing my daughters laugh together.  That's the best gift I could ever receive.

Everything you do impresses me, every tine you hug me, I am filled with warmth.  You are, plain and smile, a really wonderful kid.  And  I am so grateful, and so incredibly proud to be your mom.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

And then, she was four...

I'm not sure when you grew up, but I know it happened too quickly.  You went from baby to preschooler so fast I don't even remember what you looked like at two.  Thank goodness I take way too many pictures and though I haven't actually developed any prints in years the crazy world of digital photography allows me to take and store thousands of photos for free.  So I'm sorry you have no photo albums beyond a year old, but don't worry, your sister probably won't have any at all.

Yes, you are going to be a big sister now.  Sometimes I worry how you will handle it, you so enjoy being a baby yourself.  You still sneak into our bed every night, and sleep between your parents, your arms and legs wrapped around one of us so tightly it's hard to untangle from your grasp.  Your sweet face often covered in tangles of your wispy, wild hair.  Hair that refuses to be contained to ponytails, braids or buns, even when shellacked with hairspray.  Yes, your hair suits you just perfectly. You would never conform to anything that you didn't want, why should your hair? We have learned to let it fly free, like your sprit, it just won't be contained.

While I continue to worry how you will accept your little sister's arrival, part of me thinks it will be so hard on you.  But then again, I see you with your big sister.  The way you treat her, even though you are the younger sister, you constantly look out for her.

I remember last summer on the beach, we had some lunch.  Di was playing in a muddy sand puddle, and you were on my lap.  As you finished your sandwich, I gave you two potato chips, just because it was vacation and you were so sweet and cute.  You took both chips and walked off.  I watched you walk away, as I often do. You went directly to your sister, and because her hands were elbow deep in sand, you told her to open her mouth.  You popped one of the chips in her mouth and happily walked away, munching your own.

When what started as an innocent paper cut, turned into a horrific infection that sent us to multiple doctors, specialists and hospitals.  It was awful, to see your finger look that bad.  It hurt us to look at it.  You really never complained at all.  Eventually, the doctors prescribed a medication so strong, the flavor of it was comparable to ammonia.  Even the pharmacist cringed when we filled it, and I paid the additional price to have extra flavoring added to it.  The pediatrician told us to give you anything you wanted to get you to take it consistently.  We agreed on one M&M with each biting tablespoon you had to swallow.

Well you demanded TWO M&Ms.  Ok, we contended.  This is a small price to pay to save your finger, and potentially much more if the infection spread throughout your body.  Even your dietitian mother decided it was worth the artificial food dyes and high fructose corn syrup to get you well.  Immediately upon reviewing your prize, you called you sister over for her share of your bounty.  Even though you had the pain, you had to endure the surgery and dressing changes, you had to taste the awful (but ultimately wonderful) medication, you gave half to your big sister.  Without thinking.  It was your instinct, part of your innate character, to be selfless.  To share your possessions, your joy with her.  It is not something you were taught.  This is simply you.

You do have this feisty fire that has come up more often as you become more independent.  You don't like to be told what to do.  I can't ask you to fetch my slippers, but if I mention my cold feet or a budding headache you run off to get my warm socks or cold compress and rush to my aid.  The same sister you lovingly feed half of your treats you have whacked out of frustration.  While I don't condone that, I do have a sense of relief that you will not be the type to let others tale advantage of your generosity.  You are so powerful, I never want anything to break that part of you.

Watching you grow, experiencing you learn.  Seeing you play with your little friends at school, I live for these moments.  Everything you do fascinates me.  Your effort to properly annunciate words that typically don't belong in a preschooler's vocabulary causes you to stutter often, but you persevere until you get it right.  You've never once given up for an easier word.  When I made the mistake of trying to say it for you, you don't appreciate my efforts at all.  I get it, baby.  You are so independent in many ways, but you still need so much from us as parents.  You demand it, and you suck in every ounce of attention we give you.  And you return that love so sweetly, so generously and genuinely, I often feel undeserving of something so beautiful.

You are hilarious.  Always doing anything for a laugh.  I love how you dance in the car to our gym music, how you can't take dancing with you sister seriously and just end up shaking your bum around, how you give the sky side look and half smile when you are up to no good.  How you run so much faster than your little legs seem meant to, often falling frequently.  But rarely do you cry, even when you are visibly injured.  Not much can deter you from doing what you want to do, even the occasional blood shed.

Your are still strikingly beautiful.  No, beauty isn't everything, but part of it is that personality that shines through your face.  And of course, those eyes. The way you sleep.  It's as if you were perfectly
posed for a nocturnal photographer.  Every position you turn to, your face, hands, you're angelic.  You certainly aren't even trying to look like that.  Just like your personality.  Unintentional perfection.

 It's not anything you control, it's just you baby.   My beautiful, sweet, powerful four year old.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Five. Five. five.  My daughter is five.  My first born, blonde baby girl.  My blondie-blue.  Five years old.  Five is the scary age when you really can't kid yourself anymore, she is not a baby.  Not even close.  Of course you, my love, never really were.

I still marvel at how you never were a baby at all.  You looked like one, sounded like one.  But you just didn't quite fit.  Those blue eyes knew more than you could express, and the frustration drove us all mad until your language erupted and then, it settled.  You are now so calm, collected, and so intuitive.  You don't like blood but you rush to doctor any wound.  Your body is becoming strong, graceful, and resilient.  You are so eager to read and write, draw and paint.  You come home everyday begging to do homework, that I have to usually create as most kindergarteners don't have much to do.

Kindergarten.  Now some strange woman I barely know spends far more hours with you than I do every week.  The endless days of lazy mornings with blueberry pancakes and pillow forts have been replaced with a strict breakfast to bus schedule that we struggle to keep.  I have to watch you walk away from me, happily, to start your day without me.  I don't know the names of all your friends, nor the details of your day.  You share a little, but I know you well enough to know there is so much more that goes on.  But it doesn't belong to me anymore, it's only yours.  And you decide what pieces I get. I want them all, but it's not up to me.

As much as I wish I could be by your side, I am so grateful for who you are, because I trust in you more than I thought I would.  I can look into your eyes and see how much older you are.  You keep me at bay with your shrouded mysteries, but, in your moments of half sleep or early states of awakening, I get a glimpse of that little girl, who whispers words of love in your vulnerable sleepiness.  It leaves me aching for more of you, but all too soon you are again veiled in maturity you shouldn't posess.  I'm quite sure you did not inherit this trait from either of your parents.

You are so appreciative of everything, the simplest token, a nickname of praise.  I see you cherish these things without gloating or boasting, but with that way you smile and try to conceal it by curling your lips in.  That's when I can see how happy you are.  But you try so hard to hide it.  I wish I knew why you felt the need to hide your joy, I so love to see it in your face.

You just started school, and yet I found hidden pages of your notebook where your are phonetically spelling out words, like "kosand" (cousin).  You don't want us to know what you do, on those secret pages.  Like your joy, you're keeping your intelligence cloaked within yourself, and I find myself wondering just how much more there is under those blue eyes of yours.

I look at you now as I looked at you years ago, knowing there is so much more to your mind than you will ever share with me.  I'm so incredibly curious, but so overwhelmingly proud.  I admire your strength, your intelligence, your pure, kind soul, and all the things that continue to make me wonder just how much more there is inside my little girl.

I hope you always know I am hear to help you carry that burden, whatever it may be.  You will be one of the great ones, who carries the weight of the world's problems in your arms, and I will always be there to hold you in mine, whenever you allow it.

Happy birthday, my beautiful old soul.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

She is three

My baby girl, my second baby girl, is three years old.  You are a walking contradiction, in the most amazingly beautiful way.  Never have I seen a person, certainly not a child of two or three, act the way you do.  I marvel at your selflessness.  I have seen you literally give others the shirt off your back, hand your sister your favorite toy, be satisfied with one item while everyone else around you has dozens.

Any time I offer you a special treat, you demand one for you sister as well, and never even consider keeping both for yourself.  Your instinct to think about others, well that's typically something more forced,  learned as adults, not ingrained at birth.  You are so special.  You don't even have to think, it's automatic.  You have no ulterior motives nor expectations of reciprocation.  Pure, untaught, unaltered, kindness.

You are still my baby in so many ways.  You will lay confidently in your bed in your room, fall into a deep sleep there, but without fail, I will feel the warmth of your body, and likely the heel of your foot in my face, by the break of dawn.  I love how you demand the love you deserve.  You tell us how to hold you, tightly, against our chests with both arms wrapped around you.  And no one will get back to sleep until it's done right.   My hope for you is that you never lose that.  I hope you will always demand love as fiercely as you give it.  And I will always come snuggle you whenever you ask, and many times between.

Your generosity and empathy knows few limits, but what I am so proud of is how you have set those limits.  No one takes advantage of your kindness.  For as easily as you give to others, if anyone tries to take from you, they will feel your wrath quickly and heavily.  You are so strong willed.  I admire so much about you.  I hope no one ever breaks you down, no one ever takes this incredible power from you.  You have a sense of self worth that most women don't, and even if they once did possess it, it is long gone by adulthood.  That is a difficult bridge to rebuild.  I promise to do everything I can to preserve this in you.  You deserve to always feel strong, powerful, and self actualized the way you are now.

I love how you love.  You love so hard, so deeply.  When I give you a hug, you return it with all of yourself.  Your sweet little arms wrapped tightly around my neck, your head pushed against mine.  I love how you hold my face when you tell me you love me more, draw my world into your endless blue eyes.  I love the perfect curve of your nose and how it turns up when you laugh, how your eyes sparkle even behind your squint, and how you giggle through your slightly parted tiny teeth.  Your special double tooth adding just a touch of the sweetest goofiness to your smile.  Your smooth cheeks have just the perfect amount of plumpness and just begged to be kissed over and over.

Your words.  You stutter quite a bit right now, but I believe that's only because you are so damn determined to say the words correctly, and you are choosing words few other three year olds would know.  Your slight lisp and mispronunciation of these words is so endearing to us, I find myself wishing I could record everything you say so I'll never have to live without the sound of your words at this age.  I don't want to forget them.  The way you say "weallwy", and then remind us you just said "weallwy" so we are further assured of your cuteness.

You are undeniably beautiful.  We still get stopped by strangers on a weekly basis, people who remind us over and over how stunning you are.  You've always been beautiful, certainly, but add in your huge personality and it's almost overwhelming to pack all of that into your tiny little body.  We can rarely keep your wispy hair out of your face, often having to talk to you through a veil of hair.  I see your eyes glow beneath it when you give us that guilty sideways stare, when you know you're doing something we wouldn't approve of.

You talk openly and freely now, the type of child that will say hi to random people, and give way too much information.  You love to tell people about your puppy, and the fate of our deceased rodent pets.  You love to talk to people, but to try to get you to speak when you don't want to? Well that's a feat that's nearly impossible.  No one makes you do anything you don't want to do.  No amount of bribery or coaxing works with you.  As frustrating as that can be for your parents at times, it makes me so proud and confident for you.

  Your birthday is "tismorrow" and I can't believe you're three years old, but I also can't believe you weren't always a part of our lives.  I guess being a parent involves a lot of unbelievable things.  But I believe in this: you girls are the best, most amazing thing to ever happen in my life.  It is an honor to be your mother.  I get to have you, live with you, raise you, teach you, love you.

Happy birthday to my amazing baby girl. And thank you for every wonderful second of these past three years.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Language Barriers

The most beautiful things in life are untouchable.  Some are impossible to touch, and must be admired from afar.  Sunsets, rainbows, the stars.   Too far away to do anything but enjoy them.  Then there are butterfly wings, coral reefs and snowflakes.  While they are close enough to touch, even the gentlest fingers could render them destroyed forever.

I've been avoiding my blog for many months.  I think about writing often, however I've been too afraid to touch the most beautiful experience of my life.  As if putting it down on paper will shatter it somehow.  Will render this amazing entity useless or at least far less beautiful than it once was.  It's so delicate, I've been terrified to touch it, even with words.

He was born three and a half weeks ago.  This isn't his birth story.  That's so much easier to tell.  That is just remembering facts and events.  What isn't easy, and has been nearly impossible to do, is describe my feelings through this experience.  I wake up at night thinking I may have the words to say, but them I realize they don't exist.  I have to try, I know.  I owe it to him.  He needs to know how incredibly special he is to me, and how much he was dreamed of by his parents.  There is not a fiber in my being that doubts that his parents will ever falter in making him understand how loved he is by them.  It's my job to make sure he knows what he means to me.

I went to visit him last week.  He has grown already.  I finally got to see his eyes open wide.  I met so many members of his family.  They are so loving, kind, gentle and generous.  I can already tell he will be the same.  His grandfather doesn't speak English.  I can't communicate with him at all verbally.  But I see the way he looks at me and hugs me and the gratitude is unmistakable.  I understand.  He holds out his arms to take the baby and rocks him on his knees.  Love has no language barriers.

There are many words that don't directly translate to my language.  I read recently about a German word meaning "the feeling of being alone in the woods".  There is no English word for that.  There is also no English word for "the feeling of carrying a baby for another couple and birthing that baby and watching him go home and be loved by them".  I wish there was a word, or even a combination of them that would communicate to other people, make them understand.  I feel like a failure, the writer in me is shirking away hanging my head in shame for my inability to pour out these feelings in beautifully parallel words that will instantly make anyone reading feel as though they understand.

I can't write about this the way I want to.  I stumble over my own words as I try to explain to well-meaning people who are looking to satisfy their curiosity.  I've had so much support, so many positive, wonderful people who have sent me loving thoughts and sent notes and emails and my gratitude for that is immeasurable.  I am incredibly humbled by the outpouring of emotional and loving thoughts.  I sat many nights starting at the letters on the keyboard willing them to please start making sense of this all.  How do I express my own gratitude, my love, how do I tell you all that this experience was so life changing I hate even writing that because it sounds so frivolous compared to my actual feelings I just want to tear up this paper except it's not paper it's my iPad and it's expensive and I need it!

Slowly, a part of me has become elated.  I was able to experience something so incredibly profound it's beyond words.  While I desperately wish to share it with the world, part of me revels in the fact that I simply cannot.  It's far too deep within me, too far away from the words I know.  It can't be explained by mouth or on paper, in English, Chinese or any language.  It belongs to me and me alone.  And maybe that's what keeps it eternally beautiful.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Four years...

Four years ago today, I was preparing for your birth...for the second time.  You were almost born on the second day of this month, but at the very last minute, you changed your mind and decided to do what you should had done weeks earlier.  Walking back out that day, wearing the same clothes, belly still swollen with you tucked away inside, I was pretty devastated.  I was picturing walking out of that hospital holding a little brown haired, brown eyed girl.  Your grandparents and aunt were there.  We all thought that was the day we would meet you.  Although we had to wait a little longer, it's been four years exactly since the day I first saw your eyes look at mine...and they weren't brown.  Although it took over two years for you to have any significant hair, that wasn't brown either.   In fact, you were nothing like what I expected, in any way.

In your babyhood, we were hard on each other.  I didn't expect those nights to be so hard.  I didn't expect the months to pass so slowly.  I didn't expect most of what happened in those early days, and today isn't any different.

I didn't expect you to be so grown up at four years old.  I call you my little old soul, because of the way I catch you staring out the window, deep in thought.  You have always seem to grasp concepts far beyond what your years should allow.  I can speak to you like a friend, and never have to simplify my thoughts.  You understand it all.  You even understand me when I don't have words to speak.  How often do we look at each other and break out into smiles?

I found myself staring at you once recently, you fell asleep in the car.  I pulled into our driveway, and normally I would jump right out to begin the process of removing children, shoes, socks and whatever else happened to make its way into car on our trip.  I happened to glance at you in the rear view mirror, and stopped short.  I saw such a mature face it made me simultaneously sad, proud and overwhelmed with the realization that you were growing up, and you aren't going to stop.  I stare at your face now and it's impossible to see the baby you once were.

You're so appreciative for everything you have, everything you are given.  I have never seen another child show so much gratitude and excitement when you are offered gifts, no matter how boring or mundane they may seem.  What kid gets excited about new socks for Christmas? Or a magnet brought back from a business trip? Well, you do, and you show as much excitement and gratitude for these little things as you do for the "big" gifts that most kids crave.  It only makes me want to give you more.

You're so much like me.  The deep thinker, the animal lover, the attachment to your family.  You never asked for a lot of affection, independent from the time you were a baby.  But on those occasions you ask to snuggle or request a hug, I just want to hold you so tight I'm afraid to hurt you.  You're such a great big sister, watching how you love your little sister , how you care for her, consider her, it multiplies my love and pride for you even more.  How lucky she is to have you to look up to, how lucky I am to have you as her role model.

I love our little quiet moments together, morning time hugs, waking up to your hand on my face, telling me you love me.  I love how you tell me at the end of the day you had fun, and you thank me for it.  A four-year-old, thanking her parents for a nice day.   Even as I think about it, I'm am shaking my head in amazement.

Thank you my baby girl, even though the baby is long gone, I am so grateful for every moment we have had together in these four years.  I'm excited for the years to come, though I would never want to rush through any of these moments.   Thank you for all the fun, the sweetness, the caring, and the understanding of situations that should be far beyond your comprehension, but somehow, for you, they just aren't.  Thank you for your unconditional love, your tolerance, your ability to forgive me my faults.

Thank you, my love, for these past four years.