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A Letter To Cora

Dear Cora:

I’m having a hard time believing it’s been over a year
already since I last wrote you a letter; that letter I wrote before
you were born has been safely tucked inside your baby book for
almost thirteen months now, and at the risk of sounding like a
cliché, where has the time all gone?

On the other hand, I look back over your first year of life and
can’t believe it’s been ONLY a year. Job loss,
unemployment, selling a house, leaving New York, buying a house in
Texas: how can all of this happen in just a short twelve months? I
feel as if you’ve been with us forever, even as I still
continue to struggle to find my groove with you. Your Nana said at
your birthday party, “I bet you can’t imagine life
without her now, can you?” And I replied, “Well, I
actually can – and it involves a lot more sleep!”

Yes, my darling girl, if I have one complaint about you, it’s
the whole sleep thing. What’s the deal, kiddo?! You still
wake up whimpering a few times a night, and your attitude towards
naptime is way too insouciant. Can we work on that please?
I’d love to look back on this letter next year and say in
disbelief, “Cora wasn’t a good sleeper? I’d
totally forgotten that! She sleeps thirteen hours in a row
now!” I think it’s partly the separation anxiety
– you’ve got that thing down pat, and practice it
endlessly lest you lose your touch with it. So can we work on that,

And thus endeth my complaint list. Now for the plus side:

You, beautiful child, are a joy to be
around. I’ve rarely known anyone who charges at life full
tilt the way you do, and it charms me again and again. Your
great-grandfather walks into a room and expects to like everyone
– he’s got this expectant smile on his face, like he
can’t wait to see what life’s going to offer him in
this situation, like he knows that he’s about to get a treat
but simply doesn’t know what it is yet. And I see that same
look on your face. You’re overjoyed at the smallest things: a
bluebird flies across the kitchen window and you break away from
your breakfast and scream, pointing in delight. You notice the
bunnies in our backyard at dusk, and go tearing across the living
room to bang on the window and talk to them. I’ve watched you
at playgroup, content to be wherever I am whether there’s
toys there or not; you’ll spy a piece of scrap paper and a
discarded Lego toy and be happy for hours, playing at my feet while
I chat. You assume the best, and life delivers it for you.

Being the baby sister to a toddler can’t be easy, but
you’ve been incredibly good-natured about sharing the
spotlight, the toy box, even the clothing closet with your sister.
In photo after photo, I see you staring adoringly at Maddie, and
can’t believe how happy she makes you just by being nearby.
You scream with delight when she runs up to you, and if
you’re already sitting at breakfast when Maddie comes down
the stairs in the morning, you start bouncing up and down in your
seat the minute you hear her voice. I won’t say you two
don’t always agree on who had a toy first, but I see the love
on both sides, and am grateful for that.

When you’re tired or scared, you wrap yourself tightly around
me and bury your head in my neck, your arms hugging me tightly,
your fingers twining tightly around my hair. When I wear braids you
grab an end and brush it like a paintbrush against your face, over
and over and over again. As I work in the kitchen, you amiably
circle the island a few times on your own before walking up behind
me, forcing your way through my legs and peering flirtatiously up
at me from my feet as if to say, “Tah-dah! I’m

You love music, and will play songs on your activity table and
dance to them. If I ask you to put some music on you’ll
obligingly toddle over to a safety gate and push the musical
buttons for me, and if you hit one of the tunes you like
you’ll begin humming to yourself. You also hum when you eat
– it’s truly a cute thing. If you’ve got food you
are excited about and are getting your fill, you’ll begin
bopping in your chair and humming tunelessly to yourself. Likewise,
you’ll croon quietly in the stroller if you get into a
reflective mood. And dancing? Watch out! Your arms wave wildly, you
twist side to side and try clapping as well. I think your favorite
instruments to play are the drum and the xylophone, and you put
both to good use regularly.

You display a fearlessness that is cute now, though I see worry on
my horizon. When you climb up on a chair by yourself and push
determinedly to your feet, your grin is so triumphant that I almost
don’t have the heart to come over and remind you that chairs
are for sitting, not standing. (I said almost.) You’ve
experienced more small bumps and bruises than Maddie ever did at
that age, because you simply launch yourself before thinking. I
believe it’s partly an intrepid nature, and partly complete
trust in me, and that’s gratifying and deeply humbling. You
toddle near precipices completely unconcerned, absolutely certain
I’ll save you if saving becomes necessary. At the gym
you’re determinedly practicing the incline rock wall on every
visit, and you sometimes remind me of a pint-sized army girl,
gleefully running through an obstacle course as you toddle to a
balance beam, climb up and over it, patter to a mat, crawl
efficiently across it, lower yourself carefully down an incline,
and so on. I’d love to watch if I weren’t so nervous.

You’ve begun to enjoy book time as much as your sister does,
and after we get through “Brown Bear” or “I Know
A Rhino” you’ll impatiently flip the book back over and
demand we read it again. And again. And again. You like to flip the
pages, and are quick to tell me if I pick out the wrong book for

In some ways you remind me of a small puppy: you put EVERYTHING in
your mouth, though thankfully you don’t usually see the need
to try to swallow them. Many times I’ve caught you with your
sun hat strap in your mouth for all the world as if you’re a
little spaniel carrying her leash in her mouth. You love finding a
ball or soft toy to hold in your teeth as you toddle around, and
life is truly complete if there’s also a small toy in each
hand to balance you out. And sometimes you’ll find a soft
ball or piece of paper, flop down on the floor on your back, and
simply lie there, playing with it in the air; I can almost hear the
yips of pleasure from across the room.

Your unselfconsciousness is one of my favorite things about you,
and I pray it lasts. I pray, too, that this next year will be full
of joy for you. As you begin to learn discipline and suss out your
place in this family, I pray for patience and wisdom. I ask God
that your heart be prepared for all you’ll experience and
discover this year, that He reveal Himself to you in a very real
and intimate way. I pray for astonishingly good health, and that as
you continue to grow in physical and verbal skills you will learn
for life’s sake, and not because I’m pushing you or
because you feel the need to try to catch up to your sister. I pray
that God will be in the midst of your relationship with Maddie as
you grow even closer together.

And mostly, I pray that God knows how grateful, how thankful I am
to be your mother. Here’s to another year with you!




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