Meet Alice, the Happiest Person in the World.
Alice is four and a half years old, and has enough joy in her heart for at least four people her size. She laughs when she wakes up in the morning. She laughs after she sneezes. She is excited about EVERYTHING in the world. She loves broccoli and her daddy and dancing and digging in the dirt while wearing full princess regalia. She loves painting and making up songs to play with her Hannah Montana electric guitar and making her Barbie dolls perform in 'movies" and creating bizarre outfits that feature leggings, poofy skirts and two different high heels. On the wrong feet.
Sometimes her father and I start at her in wonder and mouth "Why is she so happy?" We have no idea. We both skew a little dark, a little droopy. I can be like Alice about half the time, and the other half of the time I am skulking around in my best neurosis. But Alice...when Alice is unhappy it is NOTICEABLE, because it's such a RARE occasion. The sunlight is absent, and thankfully never for long. She is easily reasoned with. Perhaps being reasonable is one of the gifts of a happy person? She never stays angry, so quick to forgive and forget.
Her heart is generous and sweet. I recall a time when she was no more than two years old, and one of her brothers was sick with a fever. She insisted on taking a cup of water up to him...no one else could hold it. She had to carry it up the stairs herself. She is full of kisses and hugs, and loves to gently rub your arm or face. "Mommy, I'm softing you."
She might be giggly and gentle and cute, but that hasn't softened her intellect one bit. She's full of mirth and a dry sense of humor too. Once I was combing her hair and misting it with a water bottle. She hates having her hair combed. It's one of the few things that make her grouchy. I said, spraying away, "Pretend you're in a waterfall!" and she said, deadpan, "All I see is da window." I said, "You have to use your imagination!" and she said "I yam. I am petending you are nevah doe-ing to t-omb my hair adain." She always tells me I'm beautiful, and even asked me the other day if I had been on a diet because "you yook weawwy fin." I have no idea if she knows what that means, but I think she heard it somewhere and thought it would make me happy. It did, but not for the usual reasons.
She's not perfect, but sometimes it's hard to remember that when her eyes dance and her smile lights up the room. All of our children are precious and loved beyond measure, but it is Alice who brings the sunshine into the grey, for each of us. And there is so much grey...
Bringing this little dynamo into the world was a risk. Our family does not have material wealth. I am plagued by physical and emotional health issues. My pregnancy with Alice was fraught with minor complications that, while not necessarily life-threatening, gave me a great deal of discomfort. Some things will never be the same. Giving birth to her was a test of endurance and the most difficult thing I have ever done.
But I would do it all over again. She is worth the price paid. She has brought me more comfort and joy than I could ever have living a perfectly insular life. And daily, I am trying to absorb her example. To laugh, to agree, to be friendly and patient and kind and nurturing. To light the dark.