Dear daughter, in case I forget to tell you when you’re older …

… here are some reasons you continue to steal my heart.

First, this smile. It’s there when you wake up in the morning and is a constant reminder of the joy you have for life. You have an energy and a zest for living that I hope does not disappear when you get older and more “seasoned” by life. You inspire me and give me purpose.

Second, your prayers. You are 2 years old and you already know how to pray. When our friend prayed for the meal tonight, you bowed your head, folded your hands and sat quietly. One of the best parts of my day is hearing you say, “Dear Jesus, for my mommy, for my daddy, for my Corban. Amen.” And hearing you add in other people and things to your prayers. Keep praying, my daughter. It will be your lifeline.

Third, your imagination. As we walked home tonight, you stopped every few minutes and said, “Let’s take a picture.” You pulled out the worn-out camera Nana gave you and snapped a “smile” every chance you got. Will you be a photographer? I do not know. I love watching you play with your babies as though they were real. How you feed them, diaper them, offer them your snacks and entertain them. How the space between our front door and the door that leads to our attic can become an elevator to anywhere. And the other day out of nowhere you decided to show us the chicken dance.

Fourth, your creativity. You’ve loved to draw and color for a while now, but your pictures are becoming more than just scribbles. You love circles and drawing them over and over and over again. When you pull out your fingerpaints, we’re never sure what the outcome will be, but we’re as proud of what you created as if it were hanging in an art gallery. Jackson Pollock, watch out. And you are the best snake maker in the Playdough genre that I’ve ever seen.

Fifth, your negotiating abilities. “Just one more,” you say sweetly when you’ve finished your umpteenth episode of Dora. And even if I wanted to resist, I couldn’t. Between your smile and tone, I give in. I’m convinced you could win any case brought against your client, if you choose to be a lawyer. This could serve you well in life, but I’m almost certain you’ll outgrow it.

Sixth, your recall. As you were playing your memory game yesterday, you started saying, “Dos. Cinco. Dos. Cinco” as you placed the pieces on the table. This is the result of too much Dora and nowhere near the correct order of counting in Spanish, but I’m tickled nonetheless. Also, you know that the Spanish for open is “abre” and that if you really want me to follow you to another room, “Come on, vamanos,” gets me every time.

Seventh, your personality. You’ve started waving at strangers. Sometimes they wave back. Usually they smile. Your mother has a hard time initiating conversations or even contact with strangers, but you are young enough and have enough of your father’s genes that you make friends easily already and are quick to offer a wave or a “hi.” I can learn so much from you.

Eighth, your curiosity. “What’s that, Mama?” is a favorite question right now. And you really are interested. Daddy was telling you about his class tonight and when he said it was about the triune God, you repeated, “The try-oon God?” and he explained about Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit. That may be a bit over your head at this point, but keep asking questions. You’ll learn something new all the time.

Ninth, your innocence. You don’t yet know that it’s not OK to look out the front picture window when you’re not wearing clothes or a diaper. We constantly have to tell you to get away from the window until your jammies are on. I don’t think this means you’ll be an exhibitionist. It’s like Adam and Eve, before the Fall. Naked and unashamed. You don’t yet feel weird about the way you look, with or without clothes on. You don’t know that bad things happen for no reason you can explain or that loving too much can sometimes hurt you. Your world is safe. I wish I trusted God as much as you trust your mommy and daddy. I’m working on that.

And lastly, although I’m not sure there’s really an end to the things that I love, I love that God put you in our lives. Your father and I have not known many married days without you, and although your birth changed everything for us, we can’t imagine our lives any differently or remember what they were like before you came along. We haven’t scratched the surface of the things you’ll teach us, but you’ve grown us in ways we couldn’t have imagined. We are better people for having you in our lives. You are only 2, and it’s been an adventure with so much more to come.

Isabelle, you are a gift. If you should ever read this, try not to roll your eyes too much. Mommy is foolishly sentimental sometimes.

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