But even though a picture might adequately describe your sweet, mischievous smile, it could not describe the tide of happiness rising in my body when I am greeted with it, or the turn it can make a bad day take when I think about it.
And though a picture may illustrate the petite gracefulness of your 23-pound frame, it could never give voice to the comfort and meaning that the weight of your beautiful little body in my arms offers me. It could never tell of the peace that embraces me as I carry you, sleeping, into bed, reluctant to let you go.
I could post a picture of you mid-song, mouth wide but silent, arms caught in the action called for. But if I do that, only I would know that you were singing The Wheels on the Bus, and that your arms were going ‘round and round,’ and that they were the exact culmination of two years of developing coordination and preciously, joyously, looked more like they were pedalling a bike than moving a bus. And how could a picture describe the way you like to involve your parents in the singing of your favourite songs by shouting, ‘Mummy! Up, down!’ or ‘Daddy! Babies!’ dictating exactly who will sing the next verse, and exactly what action the next verse will take. And of course you reserve the right to change your mind, cutting one parent off mid-phrase so that the other may perform in accordance with your whims.
And no picture could ever show how quickly, enthusiastically and laughingly, we oblige.
Could a picture possibly tell of how much you’ve changed this year? Of how, though people say that a baby’s first year is the most transformative, I believe it was this year that brought the most profound changes; the most awe-inspiring, fear-producing, pride-inducing, changes?
Could a picture show you take your first steps, your first hops, your first sprints – your first real falls?
Could a picture show you speak your first words, your first sentences, your first stories – your first insistences that ‘Bee do it?’
Could a picture show you sleep in your own bed, put on your own boots, brush your own teeth – make your own choices?
Could a picture show how my heart broke when you cried as I left you those first few days I went back to work, and how it breaks a tiny bit even now as you practically push me out the door in the morning after blowing me a kiss and yelling for your daddy to hurry with your yogurt?
Could a picture show how excited I am that you are going to be a big sister? How very, very lucky that baby will be to have you?
Could a picture show how very, very lucky we are to have you?
Happy birthday, my sweetest, sweetest girl.