Dear Jalayla Bee and Lola Bee,
Last week my sweet (and feisty) Lola you turned 11 months. For the past 11 months I have been holding you in my arms (although nowadays you don’t always want to stay in them), rocking you, kissing you, singing to you, waking up throughout the night to watch your chest rise and fall. For the past 11 months our hearts have leaped with each thing you do be it smile, pick up cheerios or pull up so you can see us better. There have also been occasional headshakes as we watched you swipe your cheerios to floor for Stella or send your Sippy cup plummeting because you don’t want it anymore, only you really do. For the past 11 months your sister has immersed herself into loving you. She has held you, read you stories, fed you and made several promises to you. She has asked to hold you just because; she has made it her mission to make you laugh and smile. The two of you really are the best of friends. People might wonder how an 11 month old and 8 year old can be best of friends but in watching the two of you I get it. You two love each other so much. You can’t talk yet Lola but you babble and she listens and when you cry oftentimes just seeing her is enough to make you forget about whatever had you upset. Many times if I just stop to watch, to really watch, my heart can’t help but be moved. The two of you sit and giggle at one another like old friends. Sometimes I will be driving and the sound of laughter will fill the car. In those moments and so many of the moments in which the love you two share is before me I find myself thanking God that his plan for my life included the two of you — together.
Jalayla your love for your sister has blessed me more than you will ever know. When she hurts you hurt. Your heart’s desire is to see her happy, to make her smile, to know that she is ok. When she cries in the car we both squirm but many times simply holding your hand was enough to calm her little heart. You’ve always been loving and nurturing but being able to witness your relationship with your sister blossom has been such a joy.
This summer has been the best summer of my life. It is the first summer since you were a baby that I have been able to be home with you. It’s been the first summer where most of my days were spent cuddling and laughing with you – my children. We’ve been playing, resting, working and most of all loving. Each and every day has been filled with you. There are moments when I get distracted with work, or some of the challenges associated with adulthood but when I stop and think about what is happening right now I am reminded that none of that takes precedent over this – the now and the joy that comes with being fully present with you.
It is possible that this will be my last summer spent at home with the two of you. I hope it’s not but the kind of work I do doesn’t lend for the certainty I once felt at my old job. In a sense I am doing this for as long as I can and each day praying it will last a little longer. If for some reason it doesn’t I take comfort in the fact that I have made an effort to make the most of it, to make it count. I hope that the moments that fill our everydays will be amongst the very things you look back on as you recall your childhoods. I hope you remember the random dance moves, the picnics and various adventures, the I love you’s and the countless times you reached for my hand.
Jalayla I hope you remember that time we stood in the ocean holding hands bracing ourselves as the water came up to our waist. I hope you remember the time we laid on the blanket at nana’s house and I held you in my arms. I hope you remember how you always wanted to taste my ice cream cone and that you didn’t want to go to camp because you wanted to be with me and Lola.
Lola you are so small you won’t remember much from now but I hope that the feeling you have — that feeling that makes you grin revealing all 6 teeth (4 and 2 – now 3 on the way in) when your big sister picks you up or your daddy and I start showering you with kisses — never feels foreign. I hope that feeling is just as powerful and strong years from now as it is today. I hope you always remember and never forget what it means to be loved so much you can’t help but grin.
And I’m praying that each day lasts a little longer too. Each day I stare at you and my mind is blown. I watch you Jalayla as you ask to prepare your own cereal and later while sitting at the table crunching, your feet touching the floor because somehow overnight you grew. And Lola, sitting there eating cheerios wiggling your feet while seated in your high chair occasionally resting them on the back of your puppy.
I just want a little longer. And in my attempts to have that I do try to press pause. Even if just for a few moments. Time goes by so fast sometimes I feel like I can’t fully process what is happening. I can’t process the fact that my babies will always be my babies but they won’t always be babies.
Lola one minute you were rolling and the next you were crawling and pulling up, wiggling out of our arms and from time to time clobbering us with your hands (we are working on gentle touches). Jalayla one minute you were designing clothes and the next planning a secret spy mission and with your daddy’s help learning how to make oatmeal in the microwave (supervised of course). One day you woke up and you had your own style, ideas and visions and dreams. And a little sass too but we are working on channeling that in a positive way J But how I love that you are always so eager to share all of who you are with me because who you are amazing and being your mother is an honor.
My Jalayla, the other day Lola smiled and you turned to me and said, “I love that smile.” For a few moments we talked about your baby smiles. But goodness, my heart smiled when you shared with me how much you love seeing hers. Because I love that smile too. I love your smile. I love that I have been blessed with an opportunity to have my days filled with those smiles. I am grateful that the best part of my days is filled with the two of you. I love the moments when your daddy and I have no words except for the fact that we love you two. So much. We love our family. So much.
11 months of watching the story of you two unfold. 11 months of feeling like my heart would leap out of my chest because there’s so much love flowing through it. 11 months of an extra helping of God’s grace in the form of our Lola Grace and the manner in which he has used the two of you to bless your parents through the love that you display for one another.
Thankful for his grace. Our Grace. And the gift that comes with being your mama.
Love Forever and Always,