We don't know when it happened, but somewhere in the past two years, you became a little lady. Sometimes I see your father and I in you and other times, I have no idea where you got a certain trait. When I see you walk the streets of New York City, it makes me cry. You look like you fit right in and that you are your own, independent person. It's as if you were never a baby who fell asleep in my arms or cried and screamed "Mommy!" You look like you just showed up one day, fully-formed. It's just amazing and incomprehensible that you once lived inside of me. If I hadn't been there when you were born, I would never believe it.
On the day you were born, I was just happy that you were healthy. When you turned 1, I was relieved that we all survived your first year unscathed. Your second birthday is completely different. I am so proud of you and how you are growing every day. I love watching you explore and discover new things. Part of me wants time to speed up so that I will know now exactly what kind of awesome woman you will be when you grow up. But then I want time to stop so that you can remain our little lady forever.
You walk and talk like a big kid, but you are still a baby. Nothing bad has ever happened to you when your parents haven't been around. You have never had to stand up for yourself against bullies or pick yourself up after a fall without mom or dad there to give you a big kiss. Your most complex problem is that while you want to play fetch with your dog, you don't want the dog to destroy your ball.
You have also never accomplished a major feat without mom as a proud spectator. You crawled to me the first time during a mommy and me class. You walked during naked time one night before bed. I heard you scream "WOAH" the first time you saw a dinosaur at The Museum of Natural History. I wish all of these amazing moments could happen in front of us, but you're growing up and you can't grow up without getting some separation from us.
I admit that I've thought about it. I could keep you home until kindergarten, when I legally have to send you to school. I could home school you. I could secretly install cameras in your classroom and backpack so I don't miss a thing. But I know this wouldn't be best for you. You are ready to separate, but I am not.
I never thought I would cry on one of your birthdays, but here I am, in tears as I type this. Don't worry, I will get over it by morning. Tomorrow, you will pound on our door and I will greet you with a giant smile. I will try to get you to cuddle with me and you will say no but please, tomorrow, on your second birthday, will you cuddle with your parents? Before long, you will be grown and your tiny head will no longer fit in that special place between my head and shoulder.
All children grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, 'Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!' This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two.
~J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan