A few mornings back, Justin was rushing out the door after already doing a round of goodbyes, when both the boys ran over to the gate that adjoins our living room to give him one last kiss before he left. Ella, watching from across the room, and clearly wanting to give her Daddy a final kiss too, began the methodical and precarious walk towards him.
This walk across the room was clearly going to take a while, but suddenly it didn’t matter to Justin that he was in a rush. Higher priorities. He was going to wait to get this goodbye kiss from his determined baby girl.
With two older brothers cheering her on, Ella would take two or three tentative steps forward and then pause, as though assessing the distance and figuring out if she was still balanced over her two little feet. Invariably, her body would start that slight back and forth inexperienced-toddler sway and she’d eventually fall all the way back onto her diaper-padded bum with a light thud.
Down, but not for long.
Eventually, and precariously, Ella made her way over to her Daddy. Two or three steps. Pause. Assess the balance situation. Sway back and forth. Thud. Stand back up. Balance. Listen to her brothers’ cheers. Start again. She was determined, and eventually made it across the room to the gate where she tilted her face up towards her Daddy’s, opened her mouth wide (that’s how she kisses right now), and waited for a smooch. In the background, her brothers encouraged her: “You made it, Ella! You walked all the way across the room!”
Sometimes I’ll say to Ella lightheartedly, “You don’t get a moment’s peace and quiet around here, do you?” Two older brothers and there is almost always activity and noise and various places where Ella, by default, finds herself lugged. Being the third child, the pace of Ella’s life, from the very beginning, has been busier. There have been less educational-baby-flashcards. There have been less candlelit-classical-music-baths. There have been less meticulously-prepared-turkey-applesauce-meatloaf-fingerfoods. There has been less pom-pom-textured-material-play.
But, third child of mine…
Every day of your life, there have been two older brothers who have loved you and praised you and encouraged you. Jake and Josh, they have delighted in you, their beautiful baby sister, from the day you were born. Everything you do they think is either hilarious or brilliant. In response to your first and often indistinct baby words, your brothers would declare how clever you were. When you first started smiling, you had the faces of two little boys gazing at you continually, smiling back. When you learned how to bring your hands together to clap, your brothers cheered. When you learned how to crawl (during the 2012 summer Olympics) your brothers repeatedly gave you gold medals and standing ovations. The details of your life have been celebrated.
As I sat there the other morning, watching you unsteadily make your way across the living room while your brothers encouraged every step and every thud, my heart rested.
Third Child, your life has been busy. No doubt about that. But you are so, so very loved.