I find myself looking at Madeline differently these days. I suspect this phenomenon is common among about-to-be second-time-parents. I stare at her longer, watch her more closely, try harder to remember every single detail about her three-and-a-half-year-old self and burn it into my brain.
How thin and wild and moppy her hair is. Her squishy toddler arms and clammy hands. How dainty she is when she's eating, asking to wash her hands between every bite. How ruthless and animalistic she is when she's knawing on her drinking straws. How heavy she feels when she pulls her grown, long-legged self into my lap and lays her head on my shoulder. How she smells. The out-of-body, euphoric, crazy-love experience every time she throws her arms around my neck, pulls me in, and lays a kiss on my cheek.
We'll have many special times together in the future, just me and Madeline. But our weeks and months and summers of being home alone together are drawing to a close. We are very literally in the last days of "just us." It was the sweetest, most precious season.
You are my little bird; I am thankful for you every minute. There are whole entire days that I'm drunk with love for you, hanging on your every movement, every noise, every breath. I'm excited to watch you become a big sister; it's a very special, important thing. Little brothers are completely wonderful.
There are many big, whopping life-changes just around the corner for you. Our schedule will change, our time will change, our activities will change, our priorities will change. Some of the changes will only last a little while, and some will last forever.
But my darling daughter, here is what I want you to know: it was YOU who made me a mommy. You changed me forever for the better. I am thankful for you and to you.
And that will never, ever change.