Today mommy cleaned out your crib to move you over to your big girl bed. I know a lot of kids move to big girl beds much earlier than a month prior to their third birthday but I had decided to keep you in there until you tried to climb out or until you were potty trained. It's been nice. I haven't worried about you climbing in to sleep with your sister during the night of finding you in my bed in the morning with no recollection of how you got there. It's been nice but it's time for an upgrade.
As I took each item out of your crib I remembered how you got them, why they are special to you and why they are special to me.
First out of the crib was your sock monkey. Your Aunt Barbra, Grandpa Rick's sister, gave that to you two Christmas's ago. She lost her battle to cancer only a few months later and she was buried with a little monkey just like yours. People say you look just like her and I see it. She was a kind and loving woman who was devoted to her family and was always there for your daddy. I am sure that you will grow up to be very much like her, even beyond your similar appearance.
Next to come out of the crib was your Minnie Mouse. You received that from my Grandmother this past Christmas. My Grandmother is an amazing woman who truly LIVES life. She is someone with many stories, many adventures, who tries new things and has explored the world. Those things have made her a wealth of wisdom and experience, which she shares with her family. I hope that you have her joie de vivre, her joy of life. There is so much goodness in the world, so many things to learn and experience. Sometimes the world can seem like a dark place, you don't know that yet but it can, but you make the world better just by living in it. But you have to LIVE in it. You can't hide out or be afraid to try something new. You can't light up the world if you are hidden away, get out there are discover who God made you to be.
After Minnie Mouse came your Reindeer. That was a gift from your Grandmom, my mother, this Christmas as well. Your grandmother is a youth minister at my home parish in Connecticut and one of the holiest women I have ever met. Someday you will learn that there is no such thing as Santa or Rudolf. I figured that our probably much later in life than I should have (thanks mom!) but you should know that there are things that people call "crazy" and "fantasy" that you should never lose faith in. Never lose faith in God. If there is anything I can teach you, if there is anything I know for certain, it is that God. Does. Exist. God is real and he loves you. Someday, even though I will try my hardest to prevent it because that's just what moms do, you will have times of "darkness" in your life, periods of suffering when you just won't understand where He is. You may call me, I hope you will, and I'll try to get it but I may not understand. God understands. He sent his Son to die for us and He knows what it is to suffer. It's in those dark times that many people lose faith, but don't lose faith. Your grandmom hasn't always been dealt an easy hand and yet she stands firmly planted in her faith. It is because of that faith she has that she is able to minister to those going through periods of darkness and love them and turn their hearts to God. Your grandmom will teach you what it means to always have faith in God no matter what.
Next I pulled out your Tiger and your Giraffe. Those were gifts from Grandmommy, your daddy's mom. Your grandmommy is one of the most generous women in the whole world, that's why there are two animals in there from her. Your grandmommy is the type of person who will give without thought of herself, just because it makes her happy to know that you are happy. She has given of her time, her energy, her money... everything really, to ensure that YOU are happy and well taken care of. She loves you. I hope that in life you resemble your grandmommy by taking more joy in giving than in receiving. God will always fill you back up but you first have to give.
Finally I took out your Blue Bird. You got that from your daddy on your special date to the aquarium in Baltimore. Your daddy lays down his life for you day in and day out. He is up for work every day at 2:30, sometimes working far longer hours than his standard shift. He then comes home and is ready to read to you, play with you, take you out, show you that you and your little sister are his little princesses and treats your mommy like a queen. Even on his days off, like the day he took you to Baltimore, his life is about making sure you are well taken care of and LOVED. We know that Jesus taught us that there was no greater love than to lay one's life down for their friends, well daddy must be your best friend. He sets himself aside on a daily basis for you. I pray that in life you always remember this and respect yourself enough to never settle for any man who would treat you any less than this. But if by some chance you do, daddy owns a gun. Just kidding... he left it in Texas.
So the bars of the crib are down, my baby. It's a brave new world. Live your life in the example of all of these amazing people and so many more, your aunties and grandfathers, who love you and want you to have the most amazing life possible. Live in the example of God who IS LOVE. As for my, big girl, know that I love you more every second of every day. You are beautiful and sweet, special and smart, and I could not have ever imagined a more wonderful little girl. I thank God for you every day.
All my love,