Dear Elle,

I met you when you were so young. Two months old and mama didn't want to go back to work. She worried, shed tears and yearned to be with you those first few months but you and I, yeah, we had something special.

Holding your chubby little body so close to mine has always been a favorite from day one. The way your right arm had to always wrap around my back when I cradled you, how your cheek had to be perfectly positioned on my tummy to snuggle in just right, how your left hand had to feel the touch of mine warming yours, all before you closed those little eyes and dozed into a peaceful sleep. You sometimes didn't feel like your swing and that was okay, more time for snuggles; one day you would be too old for them and I dreaded the day you fought touch. You even burrowed down in my legs a few times, in a tight ball, snoozing while I read with you on the couch. Man, those were the early days. I began craving those moments soon after as you grew.

You grew into an infant then, no longer a fragile newborn. You started to explore with tummy time and love, love, loved your piano. I could place that guy in front of you for hours and you'd go to town writing me songs that went straight to my heart. You ate, drooled, burped and spit up. Played, slept, pooped and ate some more. Again, the days I soon missed.

You began to recognize me as part of your life. I'd arrive at work to a smiley baby-- all smiles you were. Those sweet chubby cheeks and adorable faces would get me through the obnoxious drive to you. I can't forget the day you found your toes; it was as if all things were right in your small, small world. Those eye would light up just seeing those toes hanging over your head. You'd sit giggling in your bouncer chair sucking on your feet, sliding down and eventually out of your chair-- where I'd come to the rescue, scoop you up and make all things right in that world again.

Soon your growing flashed so quickly, too quickly before my eyes. No longer an infant but a baby and soon a toddler. I about fainted when your first steps were taken. The week of your 1ST birthday and I was a tearful, joyful, hot mess that day! Video upon video of those chubby feet flopping along the floor. Guiding your way into rebellion and exploring. Oh, the trials were about to come all right.

And come they did. They all seemed to be trampled on when I heard that first "Auby" from your mouth, was given your first kiss without asking, when you ran to me for comfort in times of distress or confusion. I knew I was doing something right. But mostly, that first "I love you." Yep, nothing mattered you did to upset me, because that beautiful satisfaction of hearing those words washed all doubts in my mind away.

Elle, you drove me bananas some days and grew my heart so full others. You taught me what it means to love another. To love so unconditionally through right and wrong. Through trials, triumphs, thick and thin. So often I'd stop and ponder how you've molded me into the ideal wife. You taught me what I means to forgive, to stop and enjoy the small all around us, to breath a little deeper on a crisp winter's morning, to always hug it out, that a kiss makes everything better and to laugh. Laugh. How simple. You showed me, sweet girl. I've learned pajama days are necessary and sitting by the fire place with loads of pillows, blankets, a good book and each other is sweet bliss. Shining brighter all my days forward are the butterflies in early spring, the chirp of a small bird resting on the fence, the sound of morning dew under my feet, the inevitable sense of becoming refreshed after an early morning jog and happily these things will bring me back to you.

It pains me not being able to explain to you why I have to leave but maybe it's better that way, sweet pea. If you could understand I'd explain how deep in my heart your roots have grown, how your touch and small kisses makes my heart so full, how your early morning reception to my arrival melts away any distractions and how blessed I have been to call you my Elle Belle. I never want to leave you feeling abandoned or sad, lost or confused or aimlessly wandering around the house calling "AUBY". I pray you to go forward knowing I've left a small footprint on your heart in your long, long life ahead of you. I pray for your happiness. I pray you can still enjoy the smalls things when you're 13 and learning about boys. I pray you find the early years of your life with me as a symbol of your childhood you'll cherish forever.

I love you, my sweet girl.
Thank you for changing my heart, changing my life and blessing me with the ability to focus on truly, the small things.

All my love, forever & always,