Moira’s second birthday started off like most special days in our house, with me overthinking things and stressing everyone out trying to maximize the “special” and minimize the disruption to her routine.
But after a 5 am wake up, and a long time falling back to sleep, we all slept until 7:30, and school starts at 8am.
My plan for donuts and bacon breakfast was foiled by the fact that she ate way too much candy on Easter yesterday, so I felt like she needed something healthy in her belly to take on her big birthday.
Basic meals with Moira take at least 30-45 minutes on a good day, and she was not too keen to cooperate today. We did manage to squeeze in some special things, just a little faster than I had envisioned. She only got to listen to half of her favorite song. Because it’s 8 minutes long, and we’d gotten dressed and brushed out teeth and it was still going…
As she and her dad drove off to school, me watching from the porch, I got a feeling that must plague every mom on her child’s special days: “I just want her to feel special today.”
Reality check: Moira is two, and she’s an only child with an enthusiastic support system. She feels special every day.
She cheers for herself (and demands that we join in) every time she eats a bite of food she doesn’t like. (We have a Draconian policy that she try everything on the plate, so she’s found a way to motivate herself.)
She looks at herself and the mirror and says, “Oh, you look so beautiful.”
She sees signs for the zoo and says, “That giraffe is looking at Moira. He says, ‘Hi, Moira.’”
On the one hand, yes, I hope she develops some Jesus-like humility as she grows. Obviously. I want her to appreciate the Gospel, be socially tolerable, work hard, and survive setbacks.
On the other hand, her two-year-old confidence is exactly the kind of confidence I want her to have. She’s not waiting on me or anyone else to tell her “today you are special” or “today you look beautiful.” For Moira at age two, that confidence comes from a deep well of love and acceptance that’s been built up in little ordinary moments.
It comes from a Daddy who dances and sings with her, and teaches her to draw straight lines with a ruler.
It comes from a church family who swoops her up and snuggles her whenever she comes running.
It comes from grandparents who take great delight in figuring out what she’s “into” these days and letting her do it over and over and over, long past when ordinary people would have gotten tired of watching “Cats: The Musical” or reading Winnie-the-Pooh.
It comes from a caregiver who has given her the gift of two languages and a consistent routine.
It comes from aunts and uncles who let her play with the remote and the car steering wheel and jump on the bed.
And more and more, as we sing “Jesus Loves Me” every night, I know she’s going to find it in the most secure place of all.
The time will come to accept strengths and weaknesses, and to get a little smaller as the world gets bigger. One day we will talk about accomplishments worth celebrating vs. what’s expected of a responsible human. However, when she gets there, I want her to unshakably know who she is, and that she is loved.
So really, on Moira’s second birthday, I want to thank all of the people who have filled her up with love, so that there’s not such enormous pressure on birthday breakfasts, parties, and presents. I’m reveling in the freedom that I can’t engineer a day happy enough to compete with the joy inside her, and I hope that nothing ever changes that.
I hope that all her accomplishments pale in comparison to her sense of worth.
I hope that all of her beauty is overshadowed by her freedom.
I hope that every person who loves her only reminds her of Who loves her the most.