Couldn’t resist the Les Miserables reference (fantastic musical!) with my title as tomorrow is E’s third birthday. Three. Years. Wow. And almost four, really, since there’s all that waiting and belly talking that happens before that very first birthday.
What a difference a year makes, E is talking now – sentences, stories, make-believe games, you name it. She plays with her brother (current favorite: chasing each other around the house, squealing at one another) and though they do have their differences at times they are fantastic friends. I think it is normal to wonder about the impact a sibling will have on your first born but it is better than anything I could have hoped for. Well, this exchange on Monday aside:
E: “Mommy, can you please put R in my room?”
E: “So we can play with your choo-choo train.”
Me: “You mean put R in your room and close the door?”
To clarify, I did tell her R was too little for me to bring out my electric Lego train but that was (1) a while ago and (2) I said I’d bring it out for the holidays. I ended up bringing it out after breakfast, I am a softie! Her little memory is surprising me. She tells me about things that happened before she was talking and I know she is really remembering them, not just reciting stories we’ve told her.
Here’s a little birthday interview:
What is your favorite color? I like green.
What is your favorite book? Little My.
What is your favorite movie? Be Our Guest. (Beauty and the Beast, she also loves Mulan)
What is your favorite food? Logurt (she was eating Ricera yogurt while I asked her this, it is always whatever she is eating at the time, I asked her what she wanted for birthday dinner while she was eating biscuits and gravy and she said biscuits and gravy)
What is your favorite snack? Strawberries with cereal (she was also eating cereal and there were strawberries on the counter)
What is your favorite room in the house? Little My Room (didn’t know we had one of those!)
What is your favorite toy? Little My.
She is no longer a baby, she is tall and limber, jumping off of and to everything. She loves to hear “Little My” stories (can you tell from the above? I drew her a big poster with her and Little My together as a birthday surprise actually.) we make up as an extension of the Moomintroll books. She is devouring chapter books and going on adventures. I love it. I know moms always say “they grow up too fast” or “I wish they could stay a baby” but that is not how I feel at all. This is the adventure, isn’t it? The getting to know them, the battles of wills, even the “I don’t like you Mommy!” that has cropped up of late. I do get flutters of nervousness about the reality of sending her into the world for school someday, I don’t know if that is the “allergy mom” in me or just that I may sit at the dinner table with her someday, ask her about her day, and hear something nondescript like “fine.” I worry about that because I remember saying I was fine when I wasn’t but then again it is my job to give her tools to make decisions and deal with situations, not advise or monitor.
I envy little things about her, her cheer and resilience. Her awesome father. Her incredible honesty. Why do we “teach” kids the little ways of being dishonest, by the way? The social lies, the feeling crummy and not saying something about it, the feeling frustrated and bottling it up. Or not asking “why?” when we want to know more. So far she and I have looked up things like why the bull in the Clifford book chases Clifford (turns out, the whole “bulls don’t like red” thing is untrue, I’d have never known that if she hadn’t questioned me!) or why we say “ta-da” (to mimic a fanfare, thank you Google!).
I love the littlest things, like how she likes to lay her shoes on either side of mine when we come into the house. Or how the first time I taught her the game of trying to keep a straight face while the other person makes silly ones I thought she was an easy mark because she laughed the first three rounds. Until she started making me laugh. It is a great feeling. On the day we brought her home her Daddy sang a Bob Dylan song and now she can identify a Dylan song the minute she hears one. What a difference three years makes!
We have fun talks and serious ones, she asks me about why some people eat animals or if particular friends are allergic like she is. She loves her friends, she loves to talk about us being a family, she just has such a capacity for kindness. I like how when she sleeps I get a window into the baby she’s been and the woman she will become. Her lips that look like they did on the day I met her, the lashes that she is still growing into. I love her with all of my heart and then some.
Sweetie, you made me a Mama, and though I am also other things, I have never had a harder or more rewarding trust. I hope I am worthy of it, of being one of the curators of the early years of you and your brother. The first letter I wrote to you I signed with my name, I hadn’t been called “Mama” by you yet. It didn’t seem really real. And yet it did. I thought it would be surreal but as I held you in those early months it seemed natural, like you had always been here. Thank you for all that you are and will be.