I loved watching you dance in the leaves last weekend. Or, rather, twirl while waiting. Waiting for them to fall so you could dash to catch them. Jumping through your imaginary hopscotch board on the driveway. Waiting. Just so you could catch a bit of autumn in your hands. I delighted in watching you, my beautiful daughter - way bigger than I ever gave you permission to be.
It occurred to me - you are the first little girl with whom I've stood in the front yard, watching for leaves to tumble through the air.
Being the oldest, you have had to struggle with Mommy and Daddy as we bumble through this parenting thing. As we determine how we're going to discipline and when. We've expected so much (at times too much) from you because we still don't know what we can expect from a little girl your age. As the big sister, we expect you to set a good example and, let's be honest, at 6, you still need a good example. And we fail so often at that. And let's not even talk about the ways we've failed you at potty training.
But despite all the difficulties and weighty expectations, I want you to know, I treasure you. I fill with joy at all the moments we've shared, because being the oldest doesn't just mean you the first child in my womb or the first baby of my own flesh held in my arms.
Yours were the first tiny hands I held as those precious legs learned to stumble their way over this earth. Yours were the first bedtime stories I read (I was so eager, I started on your very first night at home - with, appropriately, "In a People House"). Your feet were the first I tried to squish into tiny shoes. You were the first strapped to my grocery cart - the first little hand waving, "Hi!" to every stranger I passed, melting them with your endless smile - you are still melting hearts at the grocery store.
You were the first I buckled into a stroller and the first for whom I stirred together baby cereal. Your head was the first little bald baby head I washed. You were my first pint-sized cookie-baking partner and the first arms I wrapped around a squirming baby brother. Your toes are the first little nails I painted and the first to dance on top of Daddy's.
Yours were the first little hands I taught to roll dice on a game board or how to hold a hand of Skip-bo cards (your great-grandma would be so proud). You were the first little dancer I've driven to class. You're the first one I ever packed up for a sleepover at Aunt Dayla's or whose hair I pulled up into a princess bun for the local parade (in fact, your hair is the first little girl hair I have ever successfully pulled into any hairstyle that was passable).
You are my first daughter and I have learned so much from you. Thank you for your patience, your smile and your sweet innocence. I love you so much.
Love always, Mommy