My Dearest Molly,
It is unbelievable to me that I am writing the third of these now annual missives. I know that the racing passage of time that I experience is still beyond your two-year-old intellect. You measure your days in terms of how many sleeps are left until a special occasion. I, on the other hand, watch the galloping by of the calendar with a poignancy that, on occasion, leaves me breathless. I want to imprint every single moment that we spend together into a cerebral scrapbook that can be replayed forever on a loop in my aging grey matter.
The pain that I feel in knowing that your second birthday is being celebrated at a distance from everybody except Mom, Dad, and Gus is acute, but then I remember how much your mom loves to make birthdays extraordinarily special and I have no doubt that your celebration will be exactly as it should be. I ache to hug you, dear one. I desperately want to be there to play with you and to read all of your new books together. I wish that we could share in your cake and get messy eating chocolate together. I want to kiss your cheeks and taste the ice cream remnants. But, sadly, that cannot be this year. The best and most loving thing that all of us can do in these difficult times, is to stay away from each other. It runs counter to everything that we want and that we understand about loving families, but it will keep us well and in each other's lives for many more birthdays to come. The thing that gives me great peace is knowing that you will remember very little from these miserable months and that it will be nothing more than a page in the history book for you.
I have marvelled at the independent human you are evolving into. Your parents might argue that you are stubborn but I prefer the term tenacious. You have very definite likes and dislikes and you have no trouble making them known to everybody. I love that even at two and with a still limited vocabulary, you are making yourself heard. Yes, there are moments of temper and yes, there are moments of needed time-outs but you are learning to use your strengths to the greatest of advantages. You can be polite, giving, sharing, and still strong and self-determining. You are learning to advocate for yourself and I love your fierceness.
Your independence has never been more on display than when you are at your childcare program. When you first started, you were the youngest in the class but after a split second of normal toddler hesitancy, you ran in and embraced the entire experience. There are days when you are so excited to be there, that you don't even notice we've left. There is so much in the world that you have yet to experience but you don't yet seem fazed by anything new coming your way. There is so much yet for you to discover and I can't wait to see it unfold.
I know that you won't remember the incredible week we spent together in Florida in February, just you, Zaidy, and me, the three of us beach walking, playgrounding, and swimming in the Miami sun. It seems so very far in the past and yet it was only weeks ago. It was a time when we three developed a routine and bond that was all our own, without Mom and Dad. We became intertwined with each other through meals, bedtime rituals, songs, and Coco. Camp Bubby/Zaidy was an early highlight of this year and now I am concerned that it has faded so deep into our collective recesses because of everything else around us. I want you to remember snuggling to House at Pooh Corner and singing Let it Go loudly with Elsa. I long to return to the boats you so ardently begged to see every day. I want to relive you going down the slide all by yourself with a smile so proud and broad. I love that you now have names for us and I worry that our newly adopted social distancing lifestyle will somehow change this still tenuous reality. If I forever remind you of that special week, even into your thirties, it is because it was so important and special to us. You can yell at me, roll your eyes and say, "Holy crap, Bubby...Again!" And I will wistfully smile disappear into my old lady haze and respond, "Yes, Molly. Again and again and again."
I miss my kids. It has been too long since we were all together as a family. Months. Pesach, which is a family time, is disappearing into the pandemic ether this year. I believe that we Jews often judge the passage of time, not by birthdays or New Years, but rather what has occurred in our lives and families from one Pesach to the next. I look at photos from only a few years back and see beloved family members who are no longer with us. Two seders ago, you were days from being born. This Pesach there are two new wee cousins that we still will not be able to meet in person. The emotions being stirred within me are bordering on painful and are visceral. I can't change the reality of the outside world but I won't deny my sadness at not being able to watch you wrinkle your nose at the taste of the maror or of missing the excitement that you will absolutely feel searching for and finding, the afikomen. The logical part of me is saying it has to be this way, but the emotional part of me is mourning this loss. No amount of Zoom time or online gathering can replace what is now forever forfeited and gone. I don't want to belabour this deprivation too much but I believe that we should at least, acknowledge it. Hopefully, next Pesach will bring us that family time that we all so desperately need.
There is so much good coming your way, my Molly. So many new things to learn, so many exciting things to experience. You can already count to ten and can recite most of the alphabet. Reading and storytelling is your passion and there are not enough words to convey my joy at this. You love to laugh and you love to sing, although the lyrics aren't really your strong suit...yet. You love to dance to the Wiggles and giggle with Gus. You are busy and in constant motion and watching or participating in your energy can be dizzying and exciting. This coming year will bring changes, as always, but hopefully only positive things and new passions. I want to cook with you, bake cookies with you, watch you grow into new activities, and learning opportunities. I want to teach you about Broadway and baseball and maybe even a few guitar chords.
I love you beyond the words and confines of this letter.
To the moon and back, my dear one.
Happy Birthday. As you have said many times over the last few weeks, you are indeed two and that is everything.