Second Birthdays and Other Tragedies

Saturday afternoon, I kind of had a breakdown. In Baby Gap. For those of you as-yet-uninitiated into the Baby Industrial Complex, consider yourself warned: It is an emotional minefield. My search for a Royal Birthday Dress led me to this little number. It seemed both smart and exuberant. Just like the Princess. To my dismay, her size appeared to be out of stock. I was about to ask the sales clerk to check in back, when it struck me. This is a baby dress. Baby dresses don't come in a 2T.

And that's when I ran full-speed into that brick wall of trite parental clich├ęs: They grow up so fast. And let me tell ya, hitting something that hard hurts.

I have two perfect babies children. They are sweet and trusting and radiantly happy. Princess H is kind to most everybody and excited about most everything. She holds my hand in public and tells me I'm her "verybestfriendinthewholewideworld" and makes me happy in a way that feels at once giddy and sacred.
And the world is very kind to her. Really, there isn't anything she wants that she can't have, provided she asks nicely and remembers to say please. But someday she's going to want something a little more elusive than string cheese. And inevitably the future holds some skinned knees. And some poor choices. Someday, her heart will probably be broken. And someday, she might break mine a little, too. And just thinking about it left me utterly bereft, choking back tears as I clutched an 18-24 month shift dress in the mall.
Princess H had a Very Happy Birthday. The people who love her most showered her most extravagantly with gifts and kisses. And she wore a pink dress and I held it together and it was lovely. But amidst all that love and sugar and merriment, in the back of my motherly mind, I couldn't quite forget that this was really about time's ruthless march across my perfect little girl. And I couldn't help but wonder at the genius who first concocted all the razzle-dazzle-dog-and-pony-cake-and-ice-cream hoopla to distract us from the trauma of watching our children grow up.
Which is not to say that I am not excited to see my beautiful little girl grow into a beautiful young woman. Because I am. But I treasure this moment, This Day. When my little girl is perfect.


Edit: I just reread this post and it made me cry. So I watched this.  I'm feeling much better now....