Almost a month ago, Maya turned two. It’s hard to believe that time has gone so quickly since she joined our family, but it’s also totally believable that she’s two because she so clever and opinionated and hilarious. I was less emotional about this birthday than I was about Maya’s first birthday, and just overwhelmingly proud of the little human she’s becoming.
I could go on about how sweet and perfect she is (and she is), but I mostly just want to remember her utter enthusiasm and excitement for the world – and often for what we think are the smallest things.
Lately, she has insisted that every night before bed we walk next door before bed to say good night and pray for the spider decorations hanging in the trees. When she spots the moon, either at night or during the day, she shouts “moon!” over and over, every time she spies it. Because of a spate of October birthdays, she’s learned how to sing “Hap-bir-day…..to-you!” Or “Hap-bir-day…cake!”
Maya’s favorite way to try to get us to give her a treat when we’re not so inclined is to say, “Tiny? One?” and hold up one finger and raise her eyebrows. I know it’s Michael’s favorite thing that she does, neither of us can bear to say no and neither of us can keep from cracking up.
At the end of the summer, I wondered when she would start putting more than single words together, but shortly thereafter she started jumping in with multiple syllable words and then full sentences. We hear “No like it” or “Maya do it” many times a day now, and it still floors me when I hear her come out with descriptive words or when she tries hilariously long words like jack-o-lantern or skeleton. She struggles with the r and l sound, rolling the l around in her mouth whenever she tries it. The c sound is often replaced with a t, so at bedtime when she doesn’t want to go to bed, she asks for “Mommy, ‘nuggle, towch,” which translates to Mommy snuggle me on the couch. She’ll give you a tiss instead of a kiss and ask for more tookies instead of cookies. It’s downright adorable and I find myself trying to capture on video all of the unique ways she’s learning to speak because I know they are fleeting.
When Maya was just a few months old, we had a foster placement that our agency thought would likely go to adoption. We had 7-month-old baby X in our home for no more than an hour when we both knew that he wasn’t ours and that Maya was meant to be our oldest child. It was a difficult call to make, to say no to a child who was so perfect in every other way, but we knew in our hearts. And seeing Maya as a big sister is so sweet after a little bit of a wait and uncertainty before Noah came along. She is already fiercely protective of him and runs to his side if he’s crying or fussing. He doesn’t like the car seat very much at the moment, so we’ll often hear Maya shushing him in the back seat or find her giving him pats to calm him down or giving him his paci.
I’m asked frequently how Maya is adjusting to being a big sister and honestly, she couldn’t be adjusting better so long as she isn’t tired or not feeling well. In those cases, she gets jealous and requests “Mommy carry you” over and over or climbs into my lap while I’m trying to feed Noah – or gives me fairly aggressive pats while I pat Noah to get him to burp. Noah was two months old before Maya showed any interest in holding him, but when she did it was hilarious. Noah is already almost half her weight and looked giant in her arms as she tried to feed him a bottle and lift him up.
Maya is never happier than when she’s outside, spotting squirrels or “‘rations” (decorations), asking me to zoom the stroller or just generally shouting, “Ooh! Zat!” as in, “What’s that?” She lives for “‘cool buses” and dump trucks and back hoes (although she uses that as a blanket label for all construction vehicles and also jeeps mostly because I don’t know any other words for construction vehicles). Helicopters are pure gold.
Every night, after we finally get Maya to bed (which is often a mini marathon involving more books and more snuggles and more snacks and more teeth brushing), we say to each other some version of “But isn’t she just amazing?” And she is. Even in her wildest and wackiest moments, she is just amazing. We are the luckiest. Happy birthday, Maya girl. We love you millions and billions.