Right now you are 2 years and 8 months old. You’re too small, even with the step stool, to get on the potty by yourself so when you need to, we walk to the bathroom holding hands and then I say, “1-2-3!!!” and swing you up onto the potty seat. You immediately ask for a gummy. Not once, but several times, just in case we didn’t hear you speaking loudly into our ear hole.
You sleep in our bed. It started as a once or twice thing that your daddy thought was easier than putting you back in your toddler bed over & over & over again (he was right) and became our thing. One night we tried to put you back in your bed and I woke up around 4 in the morning to your daddy carrying you in his arms to sleep back in our nest again. You’ve stayed there ever since. Last night he whispered, “She doesn’t have a pull-up on,” and we woke up on cold, soaked sheets. We both went back to sleep and dealt with a few hours later. Apparently with you and your brother, nothing is gross to us and we won’t trade ANYthing for our precious sleep. Pee is pee is pee… and sometimes we sleep in it because it’s easier. Let’s be real.
You are very smart, Everly. You sing your A-B-C’s and have a ton of other songs memorized. You can count to 20, love Snap Smart Kids, Miss Tracey, Curious George, Wheels on the Bus, Super WHY!, Martha Speaks, Five Little Monkeys… and on & on & on.
You still use your paci. On your 3rd birthday, the “Paci Fairy” will come and take it away. Until then, I don’t care. I don’t care because the world is hard and life is unfair and things can really be awful sometimes… a paci is not going to make or break you. That being said (and I’m about to get hypocrite up in hee-ya), the dentist said your teeth might suffer a little as you get older, and I figure taking away the paci is less painful than braces, right? It’s also admittedly endearing to your father and I because after the first few months of life, you would never take one… so the irony alone influences us to let you keep it. We’re softies. We may or may not have picked you out new pacis the other day at the store and it took us like 15 minutes.
You jump and run down the hallway and say things like, “Hey, Kalen!” to make me laugh. You love your ball pit, specifically knocking it over really hard and freaking Beckett out. You love the Lalaloopsy book and “snacks”. You still put diapers on your stuffed animals and rock them, singing, “Rockabye Babyyyy,” and giving them a bottle. You’re quiet at first but very polite, and once you warm up you are as sweet as sugar and everyone loves you because of how softly you speak. You remind me a lot of your father in this regard. You are very likable and very kind.
With me, you can be assertive and pushy. Sometimes you yell at me, “Get me DUCK PAJAMAS!” and I tell you, “Don’t yell at me, please.” Other times you tell us you “don’t like it,” or, “don’t want to.” You’re not only assertive, but you’re tough. You’ll crack your head open and cry about it a few minutes then continue playing. But if Beckett hurts your feelings by growling or grabbing one of your toys? That’s when you’re sensitive. That’s when you break out into a full on tantrum. Those days are tough. Some days you cry because of ALL. THE. THINGS. and I almost end up crying, too. Or stuffing myself in the bathroom and spooning Nutella in my mouth.
I love your long hair and the way your teeth curve. I love your smell, your perfect toddler smell of grass and rainbows and maple syrup and traces of baby lotion. When I go into bed at night, exhausted and way past a reasonable bedtime, I look at your little body crooked on the pillows and I get close to you. Sometimes you roll toward me and hold my hand. Other times you push your back against mine to keep warm. These quiet nights I am taken back to when you were my little baby, curled up in the crook of my elbow, and I whispered to you through tears, “I will stay up all night with you. I will stay awake with you forever if you just tell me what’s wrong so I can fix it…” I remember us barely touching you during baths or while lotioning you because you were so delicate. I remember finding myself in your smile. I remember the depression and anxiety lifting, the doubts escaping me. I remember the warmth growing from my center and radiating out as I rolled on the floor playing with you. I will never forget the healing.
I love you, Everly Mae Clark. I love your fingers, the birthmark that still peeps out from under your nose, your ears and your voice. I love when you get excited to go to Grandma’s, or laugh at your Mamaw, or ask for Mimi & Pawpaw right when you wake up. I love watching you share some food with your brother or pick up his sippy and say, “This one is yours, Beckett.” I love when you pick the blue sippy instead of the pink one and when you wear your monster truck shirt. I love when you lay on your belly in the bath and I call you my mermaid. I love when you ask Daddy to hold you and when he leaves you ask me when he’s coming home. I love when you tell me to, “Give Beckett a nap! Right now!”
I love the difficult you. I love the frustrated you. I love the laying in the floor crying and exhausting me you. I tell you sometimes, “I am mad at you, Everly. I am mad because you aren’t listening to me! But I love you, even when I’m mad.” I hope you’ll return me the same favor one day, when you’re grown and I don’t understand you and we argue. I hope you’ll remember the nights we curled up together, our pulses the soundtrack as we drifted into sleep. I hope you’ll remember our dance parties in the living room and our walks around the neighborhood. I hope you’ll always wake up in the morning feeling thankful for your family, thankful for this chance at life.
I love you, my sweet baby angel.