Dear River and Lila,
I can't believe how lucky I am. All the fears I had about how difficult it would be to have two kids have dissipated. I feel happy. And complete. That's not to say this parenting thing is easy. Lila you are still an infant, and River, you are most definitely a toddler. I juggle a lot and feel pulled in about 50 different directions all day, but I am not frantic. I'm not sad or overwhelmed. I feel like a mom who has her stuff reasonably well together.
Lila, you are a wonder. Where River can be prickly, hard-edged, and so intense, you are soft and yielding and quiet. You are a deep, slow breath. Where River has a ferocious desired to know, to do, to be, you are content to sit back and observe. You take the world in at your own steady pace.
I know we - your mom and dad - can take a small amount of credit for your contentment, but I think we will see in years to come that it is simply your nature to be easy-going, that you have taken on the role of zen master in this house of high-strung neurotics.
In general you are incredibly easy to make happy. If you are fed, dry, and well-rested the world is grand. You will sit contentedly on your playmat or in your bouncy chair watching the action or flirting with your brother. You have smiles for River like no other and you watch him as he moves around the room.
In the first few weeks of your life, the most difficult part of my day was the evening when you would be desperate to nurse for hours and hours. But even that wasn't so hard - I'd sit reading a book, watching TV, or just staring into your beautiful face while you comforted yourself. Slowly you eased off the boob and now you sleep a bit between nursing sessions in the evening and don't exhibit that frantic need anymore.
You still sleep A LOT. You take a long morning nap, play a little at lunch, and nap again all afternoon. I forgot how much infants sleep - I mean aren't you missing out on valuable crying time? Your dad and I have talked about how maybe you aren't as alert and engaged in the world as your brother was, and maybe you don't have the strength he did at your age, but you have the best thing we could have asked for: YOU SLEEP. You sleep for a 4 or 6 hour chunk before your first nighttime feeding, then you go right back down. I don't have to fight you, I don't have to think of 50 ways to calm you. You nurse, get comfy in your swaddle, get a pacifier and the noise machine, and you are out. It is the best present any parent could get.
You are a voracious eater and have gained nearly three pounds and 2 inches since you were born. Like your brother, you have a massive capacity for spit up, and I can count on you drenching me at least once every other day. You have gorgeous red hair and beautiful blue eyes, and you're building pudge like a walrus. I love that you're spending more time alert these days - the eye contact you make, the smiles you give me melt my heart. You're starting to coo just a little bit and I think soon you'll recognize that you have hands. You are everything I could ask for in a little girl. Just perfect.
As for you, River, you are an amazing big brother. You are so gentle with Lila, so patient when we need to give her attention, and so proud to show her off to your friends. I was afraid you would be too rough with her or resent all the time she gets with mom and dad, but you have been such an absolute champ.
I try not to make comparisons between you and your sister, but it's impossible not to - you are simply such different creatures. When we named you, your dad and I imagined a peaceful brook, a winding stream where one might go to philosophize or toss stones. You, River, are not a quiet creek. You are raging rapids, tumultuous white waters broken by cracked and spiky boulders. You are fun and spontaneous, smart and inventive, but you are not easy to navigate. Your toddler days are like the waterfall at the end of that wild river, and your dad and I are paddling as hard as we can to keep from being pulled down into the deep.
Let me give you a picture from a typical day: one afternoon you woke from your nap in a particularly nasty mood. You called out for me, but when I came you didn't want me there. You called out for daddy with the same results. You wanted nap to be done, but you didn't know what you wanted in its place. You wanted to play but you didn't want out of your crib. You turned down everything we offered, and when we gave you some more time to wake up and sort yourself out, you were upset we weren't sticking around. This went on for about 20 minutes. At one point I offered to lift you out of your crib again, and you said, "No I don't want to!" Very calmly and gently I replied, "Don't worry, honey, we're not going to make you do anything you don't want to." To which you responded, "NO! You can't say that!"
That's you in a nutshell, little man.
It's hard being two going on three. You're like a teenager: thinking you know everything there is to know and having to put up with parents who are so dumb and so cruel. I know these day won't last, but they're tough on all of us. You're a fighter, River, and one day those traits that make you so hard to live with as a toddler will make you such an amazing man. You will stand up for yourself and your beliefs. You will be creative and confident. You will have a determination I can only imagine. I am so proud of you, and while raising you isn't an easy task, it is an infinitely rewarding one.
I love you both, my little dears. You are each in your own way just what I always wanted.