Hey lady! You’re two. I think I’m supposed to say that time flies, but good gracious, this day feels like an eternity ago. So it didn’t fly. It kind of chugged along slowly on a rickety wooden track, uphill and bumpy – start and stop and red and green – but Bee, you know how much I love a great train ride.
This morning, I re-read a letter I wrote to you when you were one. I couldn’t remember what you were like that long ago, which nuances in your personality had already developed and which ones had sprouted over the past year, leafy and lush. And Bee, you’ve grown, sure, but you haven’t changed a bit.
You are fierce and mischievous and wise and soulful and funny and tentative and sensitive and so so so chatty, but your edges are softening. You’re learning how the world works and you’re finding where you fit. Each experience buffs your edges and it’s so visible it’s crazy, like when your dad files your nails from wild and reckless to smooth. Refined.
Yesterday you were rocking your baby (a stuffed letter “8”) and tucking it into her crib (a small cardboard box), “Shh”ing and patting and mothering, and I would have never guessed I’d have witnessed that a year ago. You seemed so rough-and-tumble. You chose Matchbox cars over finger puppets, playgrounds over books. You were energy and fire and loud, but now, I don’t know. Something’s shifted. There’s a little water in there. A bit of peace.
You seem… deeper. More observant, more content. More comfortable in your skin, more confident in your gifts. You’re being pruned by time and age and circumstance, and it’s making your stems stronger. You’re growing faster without the weight of the unnecessary.
We’ve taken you all over the world this year – from the lush gardens of Singapore to the urban skyscrapers of Chicago, the laidback coasts of Los Angeles to the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan. You’re a world-traveler now, a bud transplanted into different seasons and soils. I’m certain they’re shaping you, and I’m watching you tilt your face – ever quiet, ever slowly – to the sun. And Bee, I can’t put into words what it’s like to watch that.
Part of me aches to keep your edges in their purest form. They’re part of you, the spikes on your cactus, and a portion of me wishes the world – the cultural pressures and social nuances and sandy hourglass – could never file down your spikes. But the other portion of me knows that change is inevitable. It’s human. Even mountains move with time, and even the rockiest of boulders become smooth from sand and wind and water.
I know that – in this scenario at least – your father and I are the sand and wind and water. We’re the shapers, the ones charged with refining your edges and smoothing your spikes. And through this next year of heavy sculpting (hello terrible twos), I pray daily we keep the good. I pray we don’t sand you into the wrong shape.
I once read that, when Michelangelo was asked how he managed to sculpt such beautiful creations, he replied with this simple statement: “In every block of marble, I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”
And I suppose that’s the beauty of it all, Bee. Your father and I aren’t really the sculptors at all. Our statues have been created by something bigger than us, and our job is to withstand the chiseling – firm enough to stand, soft enough to be carved.
I see both of those attributes in you, now more than ever. You are marble, Bee. You swirl with strength and sensitivity, with steadiness and flexibility. And someday, you’re going to make a beautiful statue – even despite the rusty, imperfect tools your parents are working with. You’ll stand big and tall, a house for whatever light you choose to shine.