On this day, at this time (2:30 pm), in 2020, I thought, "Okay, Emmylou. I've waited long enough. It's time."
I met you two years ago today, though we knew each other long before. Since you first rested your head on my chest, you have been the sun around which my world revolves.
Your Papa and I celebrated the evening of your birth by looking at photos of the moments after you made your grand entrance. I hadn't realized they were live photos. I watched recording after recording of your first sounds and my first words to you and your Papa's tears of relief and awe. How have I only just discovered these? I suppose I was meant to see them now...
One year ago, I wrote you a letter with this quote:
I’ll tell how the sun rose—one ribbon at a time.
Your ribbons no longer rise one at a time: They rise in multitudes, and I try to not let a single ribbon pass by unseen.
This month is the first month of "Mama working full-time." The days fly by, yet 9-5 feels like an eternity. Every evening, you appear at the top of the stairs more grown up than eight hours before. I hear about your fun days and treasure our not-ever-enough time together.
As unsurprising as the beautiful chaos that is your hair, this final month of Year 2 kicks off with gusto: in the hospital. Yes, we have our first hospital adventure—and a full overnight at that. Like many other wee ones this past month, you get a cold that hits your respiratory system like a hurricane. What a Mama-Lulu adventure we have stuck inside that tiny room for exactly 24 hours!
Here are some highlights:
We meet Dr. Dan. He gets a big kick of your response when I ask, “What does Dr. Dan have on his arms?!”...“Tahtoh!”
We arrive at the hospital around 10:30 am, you on your final legs of exhaustion from such taxing breathing. The steroids and albuterol help, and you take a nearly two-hour nap in the hospital bed.
We spend the afternoon with visiting Mema and a toy car that we try to show you how to wheel around the hallway.
You are the most incredible patient, sitting silent and still as doctors and nurses check your vitals, listen to you breathe, and give you medicine.
You probably eat more sugar than you’ve ever eaten in one day: three juices, chocolate ice cream, fig newtons…For dinner, you eschew mac and cheese and custard for broccoli and saltines.
We reunite with Nurse Emily, who helped your Mama so much the night after you were born. What a fun surprise! That Universe…always looking out for us.
You sleep in the hospital crib, falling asleep easily after rocking with me for a few minutes and quietly sitting up twice during the night while Emily listens to you breathe.
You are the nurses' favorite, according to the doctor: “So cute and so smart.”
You don't want to leave. The following morning, Emily says, “You’ll probably go home today!” and you reply, “No!”
But home we go.
Two weeks later, another cold gets you again, so we do another round of steroids and start a daily medication to help get us through cold season. Fingers crossed you move through this challenge soon, my strong little woman.
Other than that, we continue to live the second generation of Little House on the Prairie.
We check off all items on our short list of autumn activities, including:
“appo peekee” (apple peeking) with Mama and Papa
“pumpy” (pumpkins) with Mema and Pops, where you lead us through a perfect little corn maze
“appo peekee” with Pops – the apples on their very own apple tree
Iron Kettle Farm with Zaza, where we spend way too long in the world’s largest corn maze
At Pops’ 70th birthday gala, you literally dance with glee in the Wolff backyard, where most of your world gathers in one place to celebrate. You also experience your first (GIANT) bonfire, with mixed reviews.
We celebrate your birthday with the Wolffs and Russells, including a toast at the time of your birth: 4:24 pm. (I want to do that every year.) You are beside yourself for hours on end. The vision of you sitting at the head of the table wearing your party hat and eating your cupcake is the epitome of joy.
Zaza and Chandra each give you a bounty of adorable clothes. Amy and Andy give you fun outside toys, outlets for your boundless energy. Mema gives you a book about a cat who doesn't want to be hugged (a play on your continual Lily-mauling), organic play-doh, and perfect mind-and-dexterity-challenging toys.
I give you some books, a carrier for your baby doll, and two photo albums: one family, one friends. Papa gives you a small teddy bear and a small stone box that holds a necklace: a delicate silver chain with a cat pendant. He says, "So you can have a holder for your special jewelry, just like Mama." He really is a thoughtful gift-giver. However, the biggest hit of the night is the roll of new hairties I picked up at Dollar General. Of course.
What’s big this month?
“washing dishes” in your learning tower
pushing friends around in your doll stroller
Books: Piggy Pie Po (you say the name perfectly and can finish most sentences) and Happy Dreamer
Movies: Entaco (Encanto). You’re obsessed. So long Lion King and Moana: This month is 100% Encanto. Your favorite song is “Sopa Pesa” (“Surface Pressure”).
We bounce together on my big exercise ball, you can spend up to half an hour “hiding” with me under the sheet, kissing and snuggling with a huge grin on your face, and when you wrap your arm around my neck and gently pat my back or reach for me with a grin like the world on fire upon our weekday 5 pm reunion, I think, “This is it. This is everything.”
Who are you at this moment in time, my love?
Your two-year visit stats:
Height: 36 inches (3 FEET! WOOT!)
Weight: 27.4 pounds
That puts you at the 96th percentile for height and the 56th percentile for weight. Yup. (Mema shared her two-year stats with me and she was a pound lighter and an inch shorter.)
You look like an angel. Your face is perfection, your hair a golden halo of waves and curls that bounces when you run and bounce and, now, successfully jump. More and more people comment on our resemblance—which can apparently be striking. I don’t see it to such an extent, but do we ever see such resemblances between ourselves and others? Still, I'm in your eyes and your crinkled nose. And whenever you give someone your "sassy face" or ham it up for an audience, I think, "Yup. She's my daughter."
You're so stinking smart. After just a bit of practice sampling spices on the counter, you can identify a large handful, including pahsee [parsley], spikikahdah/tikagah [tarragon], fedew [fennel], and seebo [cinnamon]. Mid-October, Mema says to me, "We don't have milk, but I can mix come c-i-d-e-r with her water..." and you call out in passing, "Emmy c-t-a!"
Two, three, and even four-word phrases sprout like spring grass:
“beebee book” (baby book), “Mema how” (Mema’s house), “bebby huh” (belly hurts), “mo bow” (more cereal bar)
“cup…tea…Mama” (Mama’s cup of tea) and “toot…fweet…Emmy!” (toot sweet Emmy, our inside lingo for farts after watching Toot Sweets from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)
“Emmy no go mahkee” (in other words, “Emmy no go to the market. I’m ready to go home.”) and “Ba no ha Mema” (Pops no hug Mema. Why? We’re not sure, but you felt strongly about Pops not hugging Mema in that moment.)
One morning, I laugh at something silly I do and say, “What’s Mama doing?!” And so “WhaT…Mama…doo-ee?” is born. You also learn how to count with your eyes closed, which is pretty much the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen: “Wah…toh…fee…foh…toh…fee…one…”
Now, when I ask you what you did at Mema’s or Veronica’s, you respond with more than “Toy.” You say “Zoo!” or “Peepo” [people] or “Bahk” [blocks] or whatever else stands out from the day. One day, you tell me an entire story in single words: “Bahk” [block]...fah [fell]…Beebee Abo [“Baby Able knocked it down?! That’s so silly! Who built it?]...“Viva [Veronica]…Hahaha! Emmy!…” [“You laughed!”]
You are so darn goofy. You already have such a sense of humor, often mischievous and accompanied by a sly expression that says, “I know this is on the edge…What are you going to do?”
You can be rather particular (yet one more quality we share). You notice the tiniest bruise and stray "green" part on fruits. Along with this comes surprising cleanliness while eating, including requests to wipe your hands throughout meals.
You are a two-year-old, so reactions can be…dramatic. Yet you can also demonstrate unbelievable patience, and you somehow understand when it’s time to dig deep. One evening, you walk into a dried bush full of the tiniest balls that velcro to your luxurious locks, and you stand still and silent for about fifteen minutes straight while I carefully extract them, one by one.
You’re such a love. One morning, I get you from your crib, and you say, “Suggow!” [snuggle] Because yes, baby girl, we snuggle every single morning in our bed. You can play with a dollhouse or a baby doll for prolonged periods of time, in your own private world. If your baby is “seek” [sick] when you are, you give her snuggles and rub her belly and rock her. You fully engage in pretend play. We catch you playing with people or animal figures and babbling quietly to yourself.
You're so appreciative. For example, you took time with each birthday gift rather than rushing through them, and at one point you actually said, "All da da" ["All done"]. As if it was all too much. Us Wolffs are known to savor and appreciate, and I love that I already see that in you.
You’re incredibly emotionally intelligent. You can identify emotions by facial expressions. You can perfectly enunciate words like “happy” and “sad.” When you explode in hysterics when it’s time to turn off the “seek” [sink] faucet, I ask, “How do you feel?” and you reply, “Sad!”
I watch you trying to put fallen leaves back on trees, or smiling at a photo of a person you now know is Nana (aka Emmylou), and I think, “How can such a tiny heart hold so much empathy? How can such a tiny being already understand so much of what matters in life?”
You have the VB determination and the Wolff gentleness. You will go far and remain beloved to so many.
Your Papa said something the other night. He said, “All of your memories of her will never be memories of hers.” How heartbreakingly poignant.
All of my memories of you will never be memories of yours. Which is why I write to you.
Happy second birthday, my Emmylou Wolff VanBruinisse.
I love you.
Love, Your Mama