(I've been writing monthly updates to my daughter, Claire, documenting all the changes that come with the passing weeks. You can catch up on past letters here.)
A year and a half, you have been my daughter and a year ago we uprooted you and moved from Georgia to my home state of Ohio. You have officially spent more time as a Buckeye than a Peach, and that fact is a testament to how quickly time flies.
Over these past two months, you took your first trip to the beach and dipped toes in the sand, hands in the ocean for the first time. You were not scared or stunned by it, but embraced it quickly, learning to love the splash and the salty breezes with gusto. You also started going into the nursery at church without a problem. I don't know when or how it happened, but all of a sudden, when we left the room you were completely at ease and played plenty until we returned at the end of the service. While I enjoyed getting to spend time with you in there and get to know the other nursery volunteers better with each passing week, I'm glad to get to sit through an entire service and know that you trust that we're not forsaking you, but that we'll be back soon. It's a good feeling knowing you feel safe, without having to shed a single tear in the process..
One of the things I've been noticing of late is how your personality comes out in different situations. For the longest time I was convinced you were an extrovert, always loving going shopping and waving hi to all the cashiers. But then when we went to a splash park where other kids were running through the sprinklers without a care, you stuck close to me, making sure to never let go of my hand while we watched and you inched close enough to dip your toes in a puddle. Then, we had a few families over for dinner and I thought you'd love the ample playmates, but the. I caught you playing on your own in the corner or wanting me to hold you most of the time. It's scenes like these where I feel I am getting a better grasp for who you are and what you need. (So far, I think you prefer adults and older kids (girls, especially) in small groups, though you're always up for people-watching, so long as you feel safe with mom or dad.)
Otherwise your personality at home continues to bubble over, as you're picking up new words fairly quickly. You were the flower girl (flower fairy girl, actually) in your aunts wedding, and we coached you to say "cheese," and you were practicing it in your sleep! Your vocabulary so far: mama, dada, no, uh-oh, ball, Elmo, shoe, hat, kitty, cheese, woof-woof, ah-ah (imitating a monkey noise), hot, hi, bye, home, duck, sheep, baby, eyes, please, two (as in "one, two, three"), amen, book, and you're adding to it almost daily it seems!
Your disposition continues to shine as such a cheery one. Your name, "Claire," means "bright," and I think that is so fitting. You are constantly smiling or laughing and always vying to make us do the same. Even when I try to discipline you, your lip might quiver for a moment, but then you bust into a smile and I can't help but smile back and laugh. There is an unending joy that bubbles up from within you and I love it. It makes my life so much brighter, too, to watch you enjoy and drink in this world around you.
You're also becoming more and more of a help to mommy. This morning, I was installing a new light in the bathroom we recently overhauled, and I dropped a tiny screw. You were playing at my feet, so I asked you to retrieve it, unsure if you even knew where it fell. But you found it and handed it to me immediately. I hope that servants heart of yours continues to flourish and bring joy to a world that is in so much need of help and that darling little smile of yours.
Also, seemingly overnight you began taking a huge interest in books, much to the delight of your mama and dada whose book collection spans an entire wall in our new house! You love to pick through your book collection (pretty vast, in its own right), and bring us book after book to read through. I am not sure where this came from, because for so long you would not sit still to read and had no interest except in turning the pages. But I did not rush or fight that, and still you developed a love all your own. Which is something that awes me, because, even in this limited, small instance, I can see the Lord at work, shaping you and making you something fascinating and beautiful—all on his own. I am here to walk alongside you and read the books out loud, but he is the one doing the work, creating you and breathing life into your interests and passions and development. As a mother, this is a great comfort to me, because I know that I do not do this work alone. I have the Lord to help me, a God who loves you far more than either of us can fathom and to fill in all the gaps of my failures and shortcomings when it comes to parenting.
All in all, both you and I are learning much together as the months continue to tick by, and for that I am thankful. We both are ever growing, ever coming into our own as mother and daughter, and as the people God so lovingly fashioned us to be. For that, Glory be to God.