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Dear Hadley,

From the moment you were born your chief request has been for me to hold you.  I realize this is probably because you were afraid I would accidentally forget you somewhere.  It was a legitimate fear.  Instinctively from birth, you’ve known that you were gonna need to either hang on tight or make a lot of noise.

Which you did, coherently, at a very early age.

Wherever we went when you were a baby, people would stop me with a freaked out look on their face, point at you and whisper, “Did you know she can talk?”

From seven months on no one has ever had to question what was on your mind.  Oh, you want that bottle with an extra shot of formula?  Comin’ right up.  Even now when I wash dishes while you finish up your lunch, you’ll call over to me, “Mom… let’s talk about it.”  So I’ll immediately stop, dry my hands, sit down and you’ll launch into a half hour explanation of whatever is on your mind.  Usually dinosaurs or bath toys.

But really, what you’ve been most vocal about is to be carried.

So for the past three years, almost 24/7, I have lugged you here there and everywhere, yelling over my shoulder to your sisters to hold onto anything they can grab that is attached to my body as we run through parking lots and malls and Target and post offices, me constantly shifting arms because one always feels like it is on the verge of falling off.  The entire time you smile from ear to ear, look at me with those big brown eyes, stroke my cheek and tell me I look like a princess as I sweat, grunt and curse under my breath because you’re not exactly getting any lighter.

I have no doubt you are going to go on to have a lot of people do great things for you throughout your life.

You haven’t been the most laid back child, but I am guilty of letting a lot slide because you are my baby.  By the time Ellie was three she was out back chopping firewood and skinning dinner for her two little sisters.  Last week I chased you around the house trying to shove a bottle in your face “for old time’s sake”.  Sorry about the pacifier incident, by the way.  I really shouldn’t have pinned you down like that.

It’s so cliche, but the last child really does get the shaft in a lot of ways.  I had to straight up dig to find any pictures of you by yourself for this post, and sometimes I tear pages out of your baby book to jot down my grocery list.  I can’t recall you ever having worn an article of clothing not previously barfed on by someone else.  Which is actually okay with you because you’re totally flexible on your first layer of clothing.  But the second layer must consist of at least 2,000 layers of glitter-infused tulle.  We fight every morning about why you can’t wear my high heels to pre-school.

While you are sweet as pie, I’m fairly confident that you hold the record for amount of time spent in time out.  In fact, you are sitting there now, burning a hole in the back of my head as I type this.  At first I thought you were, umm, let’s call it “moody” because of that stubborn lateral incisor that insisted on barely popping through your gum and camping out there.  But no, I think it’s just your charm.  One minute you’ll be happily walking along, the next you’ve thrown yourself on the ground, screaming bloody murder, over something horrific like your sock touching your ankle.  I think you get that from your Dad.  The parenting books you’ve driven me to read tell me to call you “spirited”.

But oh sweet mother – even your tantrums are adorable.

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I promise to try to always be excited about each of your milestones, even though it is my third time through.  I promise to always listen to everything you have to say.  I promise to try to be patient when you’re throwing yourself on the ground and everyone around thinks you have broken your leg but I know it’s really because your bike helmet is touching your forehead.

And I promise I will always carry you, even when my arms are already filled with a heavy load.

Love,

Mom

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