I'll be honest, the beginning of January is not the best time to have a birthday. It gets lost a little in Christmas and New Year and the energy to plan anything isn't really there...I felt terribly guilty this year for not marking Rory's actual birthday myself, because we were away for the weekend with friends visiting their new baby. Our friends were so sweet, they bought Rory a big '2' balloon and a cake which she somehow swindled us into letting her stay up until 8.30pm to eat. Needless to say we regretted that one at 2am!
I know she's only two, and she doesn't care when or if we celebrate her birthday, but this year it felt like it mattered a lot to me. I didn't want to get in the habit of neglecting to mark her birthday, because I think it's important to pay attention to these things as much as you can. It's not about cake or gifts or a big party, it's just about me making the effort and time to do something I think she would really enjoy. I am often caught up in my work, and I try to be mindful of not doing that to the detriment of my attention to my family. There's also a huge part of me that is of course a photographer and a memory maker. It's important to me to capture milestones in her life so that she can look back on them and remember what she was like and the things we did together. I love seeing the photos of myself at my different birthdays, blowing out the candles on the cake, and I want that for Rory too. So, the weekend after her actual birthday, I made her a cake and invited her bestie River over so we could make a bit of a fuss of her. I am so glad we did, because she loved it. She was so happy about blowing out the candles, sharing the cake with her buddy and playing with confetti balloons. She's been telling me all week about how her and River ate her birthday cake and played together, and it means a lot to me that I made a happy memory for her and all of us that were there with her.
So, my sweet Rory is two. And two year olds are a hell of a lot of fun. I feel so lucky to have this girl in our lives. She is so funny and clever and kind, full of energy and laughter and loves to perform a song or a dance whenever you ask her. As long as you clap afterwards, and if you don't she will most definitely ask you. "Clap, mama!". Oh this girl, she's the best. The words are coming thick and fast, and with them a whole load of hilariously funny glimpses into the workings of her mind. I bathed her last night, and she told me that the boat was doing a wee wee because the water comes out of this little tug boat in a spout. It's wonderful to be allowed to spend so much of your life in a state of play and exploration with a little person who lives for fun and learning and playing.
There's a few challenges about this age, of course, as she's learning what she likes and doesn't like and how to exercise her will. She's strong minded, very independent and inquisitive - all good characteristics of course, but ones that can be frustrating when you're trying to leave the house. I'm learning how to communicate more effectively with her, speak in ways that make her feel listened to and empowered. I try to give her choices for things, involve her in as much as I can and empathise from her point of view. All these things significantly reduce any challenges about her age. I don't see her as 'naughty' or 'terrible' I just see her as her own little person who quite rightly doesn't always want to do what I want her to do. of course she'd rather play lego in the nude than come to the shops in the cold with me. When she wants something she wants it NOW and doesn't understand she has to wait. I find that for the most part, if I explain, give her some options "we're going to the park, would you like to walk or go in the buggy?" then she feels like she is getting to choose and that makes her happy. I'm not perfect, and I don't always have the patience to the best parent I can be, but that's normal and I'm always trying to be better. The hardest part of this age I think, is facing up to my own need for growth and teaching myself to have more patience. You need to find the child in you more than you think, focus on the learning aspect of everything they are doing instead of being annoyed that you're putting everything back in the cupboard for the tenth time that morning. Sure, they make a mess everywhere, but if they're having fun and learning then is that such a bad thing? Because that's all a two year old really wants to do, have fun and learn.
Two year old Rory is top of my list of other humans I want to hang out with. There's no one that can make me laugh like she can. Her face, her voice, her run, the funny posh way she says "toast", how she still flicks my eyelashes when she drinks her milk, or for comfort if she ends up in our bed at night. Discovering the world alongside her, well it's the best. I live for her cuddles and kisses, the way she wraps her arms around me tight and says "squeeeeze", or "nunight mama, sleep well" before she curls up in her cot to sleep. It's such a wonderful age, and one I am sure I will look back on nostalgically when she's older and not quite so full of affection. Whenever Gav gets home from work, she shouts "more dada run Rory" as she runs into his arms and he swings her in the air. "Keeka ahh" is Twinkle Twinkle little star, she sings it in the bath and plays a tune on an imaginary piano on the side of the bath. She loves the dog like a sibling, and says "Elkie nice" as she cuddles into her, resting her head on Elkie's back. It's all so sweet and wonderful. But don't be fooled by that face, she's smart as they come and hella cheeky with it.
Happy birthday, my little Rory. You are, and always will be, my very favourite thing.