Every single day you amaze me with your uncanny ability to be cuter than the day before. I desperately try to capture it all because I know your adorable habits could be gone within an hour, a day, and most certainly by the end of the week. Two years ago when you were born you would make the loveliest sighs. They sounded almost like a kitten’s “mew” and they meant the world to me.
Your mews told me that all was right with the universe, you were healthy and strong and I was absolutely capable of caring for you despite my fears. After two days your mews were replaced with other baby noises and I never heard them again. If I’m not careful, I’m going to blink and you’ll be all grown up. So I want to write all of your cute moments onto my soul – preserving them for eternity, just in case.
My current favourite is the way you ask questions. You turn your head, open your gorgeous brown eyes wide and over exaggerate a single word with such a lovely and innocent inflection: coo-KEY? moo-QISA? moo-VIE? I give in every time.
You are absolutely gorgeous and a natural performer. You love watching yourself in the mirror, shaking your shoulders, jumping on the bed and flying with me through the air as we dance. Sometimes you’ll compete with the older children in your play group or at the library – and you’ll take any opportunity to correct others. I think you love being right. And I nearly died with pride last week when you made an example of some rowdy boys at the mosque. While they were screaming and throwing things during the sermon, you deftly and purposefully prayed with concentration and proper manners, carefully raising your hands in takbir, placing them onto your chest, bowing in front of God – all the while glancing back at the boys – challenging them, saying “see, THIS is how you act in the mosque.”
You consistently surprise me with your sensitivity and sense of humour. Nothing gives you more joy than making others smile and laugh. You remember names of your cousins in Kuwait and children you meet at parties – asking about them for days afterwards. If I’m worried or upset about something you’ll immediately put your hand on my cheek and say, “Mama, no cry. No cry.” You’ll give everyone hugs and kisses just for the love of hugging and kissing. And you’ll attack my stomach with uninvited zerberts, just because. I love that.
Masha’Allah, you’re multilingual and quite the vocal little pookie. You’re currently using three languages to converse: you’ll speak Arabic with Baba, German with Oma and Opa and English with people you don’t know. When you count steps, raisins or ducks, you’ll do it three times just to cover your bases in all three languages. I hear you singing in the morning when you’re graciously giving me a few blissful moments of extra sleep: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, 8, 9, 10, Lam, Mim, Nun, Ha, Waw, Ya, HALIMA!
Why you want to shout your cousin’s name after every song is beyond me.
Sign-language also hasn’t completely disappeared and when you’re really, really enjoying yourself, you’ll say and sign “more” repeatedly.
I am always entertained by your amazing stories. Every car ride you tell me that the imaginary elephants who wear blue hats fell down and hurt their knees. But much to my relief, they’re soon consoled by their mama elephants. The crocodiles go “snap!” and the big spiders go “up.” Sometimes in the afternoon we’ll read our books together. Instead of wanting me to read a story, you’ll insist that we sit in silence enjoying looking through our own books. This amazes me. You are incredibly self-sufficient.
But sometimes you are incredibly clingy.
You have a recent habit of praying maghrib in my arms. You nestle your head into my shoulder and hold onto my neck, repeating the rhyming words as your Baba recites the prayer. You’ll pat my back and say, “Amin!” with me. I close my eyes and wish the moment to last forever.
Every night I look forward to snuggling next to you in bed – and I’m going to enjoy it for as long as I can, since getting you out of my bed seems to be impossible.
You can throw quite the spectacular tantrums.
It’s so wonderful when you attempt to communicate with us – telling us about your day at the park or at some imaginary farm or that you want to eat some dates. You seem genuinely happy, Alhamdulillah. I love that I can finally reason with you and if I prepare you with a list of steps that we have to accomplish before you get to go to the park, I can defuse just about any meltdown.
Even though I’m not actively weaning you, I am trying to get you to fall asleep without nursing. I hate the days I don’t nurse you – it’s like I miss you more even though you’re right next to me. But you also surprise me when I say, “no num-nah tonight. Only lala (sleep in Swahili)” and after just a little whining you say, “okay, lala” and fall asleep on my tummy.
Eryn, you are amazing. I am so thankful that you’re in my life and are my little baby. I always pray for your success, health, safety and for you to grow up to be a good Muslim and a strong woman.
But thinking about you growing up is very difficult. Sometimes I feel as though my heart can’t stand the thought – and it will shatter, unable to contain the love I have for you.