Monday, September 23, 2013

A Birthday Letter to Teeny

To my second daughter, on your second birthday:

For weeks now I've been packing up the baby clothes that don't fit you, the black and white infant toys you no longer bother with. Your first haircut is behind you. You're all but weaned.  You are tall and slim. Your second birthday is tomorrow and you are now a little girl.

Two years ago tomorrow, your arrival completed our family. I had always wanted two daughters, so I waited for you with excited anticipation. But you didn't want to wait! You were born, a week before your due date, at home surrounded by people who love you. There were no wires, no lights, no machines. Just you and me, in the water in the dim light, with your daddy next to us and your sister Bee sound asleep. Our midwife and her assistant gave us lots of space and made it as beautiful an experience as possible. And beautiful it was, because you were beautiful.

It is hard to live in the shadow of a big sister, but you don't let that slow you down a bit. You are your own person with your own wants and needs. You are a sweet and gentle child and you give the best hugs I've ever gotten. You love music, you love to dance and bounce and play. You are alternately easygoing and extremely opinionated. You are a toddler in almost every way: you are busy with pretend play; you like textures like sand and water and rough surfaces; when I drop you at school, you usually wave me away, more interested in the light table or painting at school than saying goodbye to Mama. And of course, while 95% of the time you are happy and mild mannered, you can also throw a terrible-twos tantrum with the best of 'em.

Your words are coming; this morning in the car on the way to school, you said "bus" without any prompting from anyone. I looked up to see a yellow school bus blocking traffic. You were smiling at me, pointing at it from your seat. I can no longer count the words you understand and use actively; every day there are more. Your mobility is also coming. You cruised the length of the sandbox in your bare feet two weeks ago; this weekend you cruised the length of a NYC park bench and back with your braces on. You are getting bigger and stronger. Your determination, which I first spotted as a flicker in your eyes when you were ten months old beginning physical therapy, burns brighter and brighter all the time.

When you were born, no one had any idea that your life would be so very different from the way you entered the world. No one had any inkling that shortly after your first birthday you would have a team of therapists and doctors and specialists working with you. But they are helping you, and while you may need their assistance throughout your life, you are the one who deserves the credit for the progress you make. You have unwavering courage; you are bold, you are brave, you are persistent. I admire you and learn from you.

In his book The Art Of Racing In The Rain, which I hope someday you will read, Garth Stein wrote, “In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go. The driver who cannot tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall; the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tires break free will regain control of his vehicle.” A year ago, I had my eyes fixed on the wall. Unable to undo the issues you were born with, I felt helpless and lost inside. But you changed all of that. You helped me get my eyes back on the road.

In the past year of doctor appointments, therapies, treatments, evaluations, meetings and explanations, I have learned to watch you and to listen to you. You show me that you are progressing. You show me that you are learning. And most of all, you show me every single day that you are happy right now. Yes, life is frustrating for you. That's okay; it's frustrating for everyone. It doesn't matter to you that you're not running marathons or writing novels. You can move from point A to point B. You can express yourself and get all your needs met. You don't let this thing discourage you, and you don't let it discourage me. In this way you have accomplished in two short years more than most people ever could. You have helped me love you for who you are, and you taught me that who you are is are everything I ever hoped for in a daughter. I am so lucky to have you in my life, my sweet, beautiful, determined girl. I love getting to know you. Happy second birthday to you. I love you to the moon!



  1. They seriously make everyday fun in one way or another. With these kids and my awesome wife my years are filled with great memories. I love my family to the moon.

  2. May your day shine brightly like find more your smile, with the warmth of your heart, & a day that reflects as wonderful as you are. Happy Birthday.


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