I remember so much about my pregnant, so many moments, so much anticipation. I nostalgically look back on her newborn days - six weeks of watching LOST with Tom and Jen, eating amazing food delivered by my fantastic community, staring at her for hours. I remember so much about her first year (first month!), every single first etched in my mind forever: first time she rolled over, waved, the sound she made when she sneezed, her funny pirate crawl, sitting up, walking, saying Dada. I remember the first flower she picked for me - a Don Juan rose from the bush that grows by my parent's mailbox in the house that I spent a good deal of my growing up life in.
And now, somehow, we're here. This past year flew by - between my pregnancy and David's arrival, house projects, travel - it feels like just yesterday was her second birthday. Here we are, and she's changed so much. She's potty-trained, takes swim lessons, hangs out in the YMCA daycare, goes to her little faith formation preschool.
Yet she's the same. Oh, she's the same. As one. As two.
From the day she was born, she was special. Doesn't every mother say that about each child? Oh, I don't care - I'll say it about her. She's different. She is bright, and sensitive, and funny. Her memory is stunning and her sense of comedic timing truly impressive - I'm thinking of her kicking back in her brother's baby bathtub and cheerily declaring, "I'm in a holiday mood!" As Grandma Jean said of her, "she dazzles me." She is still watchful, a bit guarded with newcomers, relentlessly affectionate with her intimate friends, and happiest relaxing near water with me, her mother. I remember being able to work in the garden with her from the time she was little - 14 months - and she'd stay right by me, listen when I told her to stay, ever watchful and careful and wise.
Although, it isn't that easy being her mother anymore. Toddlerhood hit her with a vengeance about two months before David was born, and it's been very hard on all of us to adjust to her growing pains, to learn anew how to care for her best. Even harder still, I feel my responsibilities keenly where she is concerned: to help her mold and train her talents into virtues, and to work to acquire that which doesn't come easily. I feel so much responsibility because I see her as so very amazing - I want to lay the foundations for virtue so that she will be ready to do whatever great work God asks of her. Some days I overly complicate this; on my best days, I realize this comes naturally when I love her deeply for just who she is and work to communicate that love in all we do day by day, side by side.
It's hard for me to say what I really think when I look her, which quite honestly is: you are my dream come true, you are what I've always wanted, my greatest work in this life is to care for you, and your siblings, until God calls me home. Susannah's entrance into the world ushered in the start of my great adventure, what I am doing to make the world more beautiful. I am humbled to be the recipient of such a gift; each day, I endeavor to deserve the honor of being a mother, and having so precious a child.
Happy birthday, Susannah Marshall. May this year bring you great joy, grand adventures, and lots of strawberry donuts with sprinkles (your favorite).