Pattu bounds down the stairs each morning, a full hour before her sister Ammu wakes. Some days she hugs me around the middle. Some days, she sits at the island waiting for her dad to wake and give her company as she brushes.
Our early morning conversations are limited but a growing reminder of how it could be over the next few years. Her blonde locks are now mid shoulder length and cascade over her face as she bends over and focuses on the book she is reading or art she is creating. Her baby features have long given way to a sharper, defined look that will sharpen through her teen years into the amazing woman she will become.
Her interests are varied. One day she reads graphic novels, another day she is looking through my eclectic bookshelf and picking up a book on marine life. She spouts animal facts that astound me. She gravitates to all things nature. Plants and animals interest her. Facts are her friend.
She loves dressing up, this child of mine. Her wardrobe is splashes of color, bold pinks, bright blues, neon greens. In the morning as she leaves for her field trip wearing an oversized school spirit tee shirt, she roots around in my junk drawer for an elastic band and scrunches up a handful of cloth around her hip defining the emerging contours. She notices that I see her and smiles, in awareness of my recognition.
She hates confrontation, this girl of mine. Her lunches come back untouched some days. She tells me she was busy talking to eat. She tells me that the recess call came early. She tells me everything except the fact that she hates what I pack for her. She will grit her teeth, bear pain, double over and pretend sleep than let anyone know she cannot handle her problems.
She is fiercely protective of her twin, she guards her personal space and keeps her thoughts under lock and key by her bedside. She loves origami, she creates things, she is a problem solver. She loves to journal. She commits pen to paper. She sings as she dresses. She whistles when she is happy.
She is a joy. She is warmth. She is sunlight.
Ammu fights to wake each morning. She takes her time adjusting to transition from night to day, from darkness to light. She stares into the mirror. She thinks of time as a manmade construct unworthy of consideration. She meanders through the morning pausing to talk to her beanie boos, nursing imaginary creatures and muttering under her breath. She ambles to me, my stomach warm from being in front of the stove and envelops me in a hug. She bestows affection when it pleases her. She sips on her coffee, her system waking in stages. Her school bag is a mess. Her math homework features doodles on the sides. Drawings of unicorns interleave with handouts from her science teacher. Her writing is decisive, the pencil dark and etched into the paper. Her letters are well formed as if what she is saying is intentional.
Her mind wanders, her imagination soars, her stories are full of creatures that do not exist. She inhabits a rich world within, granting access to a select few. She is incredibly loyal. She cares about her sisters in a way that makes me cry sometimes. She curls up against me as I read, her body seeking warmth even as my words lull her to sleep. This little one of mine craves attention. She blossoms under love, her petals unfurling eagerly, thirstily as love and warmth rain down on her.
She has favorites in everything. Her pants, her tees, her flipflops, her accessories. She wears the same things over and over never giving up even as things fray and rip. She mourns the loss of things she is attached to in stages. Her grief is all-consuming, her happiness, contagious. Her favorite mode of expression is by drawing. She sketches, doodles and pours her heart out on paper. She jumps into puddles, walks on mounds of snow and seeks to feel, sense, smell, and experience everything around her.
She is life. She is love. She is happiness.
This week will mark a full decade of their life. It will mark nine years of mothering for me. I cannot imagine life without them. They make me whole. They make me who I am. They are mine. They are my life. They are my loves.
Happy birthday, darlings!