Yesterday, you turned 3.
Today, you climbed under the covers next to me like you do every morning once the sun is up and you know I won’t send you back to your own bed. You snuggled in, curling your legs into my tummy, digging your feet into my skin, as if that gets you even closer.
You laid there with your big eyes open, just looking at me, like usual. I steal glances at you sometimes, at your soft, milky skin, at those eyelashes, those shiny eyes. I think how much I love you, even when it’s 6 a.m.
After a few minutes today, your little voice woke me.
“Mom? Am I still 3?”
I smiled, through the sleep. “Yeah, baby, you’re 3. There’s no going back now.”
The past two days have been emotional. I’ve found myself looking at old pictures, baby pictures of my babies who are no longer babies. It’s the ultimate cliche, but where does the time go? How do we all grow up so fast? How do we slow it down?
You came into my life two weeks early, sweet girl, amidst a series of events that are barely even believable. On your brother’s fourth birthday, our cat was attacked by a neighbor’s dog. I hopped a chain link fence to try to save her. Somehow, I freed her from the dog’s jaws, climbed back over the fence with my dying cat and put her gently in the passenger seat of my car.
At the emergency vet, I must have been a sight to see. Full-term pregnant woman with cat blood on her shirt, under her nails, everywhere.
Rye’s birthday party was that afternoon, and that night, at 3 a.m., I knew you were about to make your entrance. That wasn’t just any back pain that woke me up.
That morning, May 18, 2009, the cat had to be transported from one vet to another and your brother, bless him, started throwing up. Grandma drove in from out of town to watch him, so I could go to the hospital and have a baby.
So I could have you.
I can’t believe that was three years ago.
I can’t believe the little girl you have become. I can’t believe how amazing you are.
Three going on at least six, you are wise beyond your years. You are kind and empathetic and concerned and vivacious and full of life and so, so smart.
You are busy all the time.
You love purses, bags, anything you can put other things in. You go shopping to buy us bananas, ice cream and Dora Band-Aids.
This week, in the car, you took a pad of sticky notes and wrote directions on them. Scribbles that told us which way to turn to get to the store or home. “You go south and then left. OK, Mom?” You lined up those sticky notes on your car door. You gave each of the rest of us one of our own.
You text people. You talk on the phone. You admonish your babies (“I am so disappointed in you. Listen to me.”)
You tell stories – creative, imaginative stories. You sing songs. You know every word to many of Kyle’s songs. Last week, at his show, you sang unabashedly along, dancing, in your own innocent world. Two women at the table behind me said, “She is so cute! How does she know all the words?!”
You are precociously adorable.
You are a chatterbox who loves making us happy. Lately, you ask for a long pony, rather than one pulled into a bun. You like your toenails painted like mine. You like to run and tumble with your brother. You like to play guitars with Kyle.
You like to help with everything.
Lately, you have make-believe friends. Their names are foreign-sounding: “Doh-dio, Wishka and Boopie.” Your imagination is unstoppable.
You are unstoppable, strong, brave.
I am so proud of you.
You make me remember how much hope there is in the world, how much promise there is of what’s to come, how good we all have it already. With you, we can conquer anything.
Your smile rights every wrong (or at least lessens the blow). That laugh is infectious. Those eyes light up the dark.
What a wild ride, raising you.
Happy birthday, baby.
I love you so much. Forever.