I wrote this a few days ago, on the morning of Addison’s third birthday. I haven’t taken her three year photos yet- so here’s a snapshot from her party today.
Well you are three. Three years ago at this very moment I was pushing pushing pushing trying to get my giant baby out into the world, after two days of labor. And I could go on and on about how big you are, how much you are doing on your own, how the time has flown by, for real. Or about how that was just the beginning of the singular most challenging and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done: being Mommy.
But last night, for the first time, you woke up crying, shaking in fear, from a bad dream. I held you while you held your wooden nutcracker that you so love, and I rocked you to sleep like I haven’t done in I can’t remember how long. I put you back in your big girl bed and sent you off to preschool this morning, but with the reminder that you are not so old, really. I expect so, so much of you, especially since you’ve become a big sister and you rise fabulously to the cause, most times. But it has been a rough year too. The tantrums, the whining, the crying and sobbing when you wake up, and we have no idea why. The way you are trying so hard to make sense of your world, your ever growing collection of necessary objects to line up in your bed, your need for us to repeat certain sentences and numbers before you sleep. Sometimes I worry. I have never done this before. You are my first. Am I putting too much on your shoulders? Am I taking enough time to truly hear you?
All I know is that as a mother, I must forgive myself for my mistakes and shortcomings. If not for me, then for you and Lilah, to see that you too can forgive yourselves, can make mistakes and work to do better, to accept things as they are. Perhaps these days I am more exhausted, more impatient, than I’ve ever been, and every day I try to be a little softer, a little more patient, I try to do what I tell you to do: take a deep breath, use your words, settle your body.
Today at your new school you will do a Birthday Walk around a candle while the teacher talks about things that you have learned and experienced this past year. And I won’t be there. And I won’t really know what you do all morning either, after having been there essentially every moment for the last three years.
Perhaps this will be the greatest challenge of all: opening up my hands and releasing you, my fiercely intense little baby girl, into the world. Finding the balance of when you need your mama to rock you and hold you, and when you need her to take a breath, step back, allow you to continue your work of becoming a most amazing little person.
I love you, my big girl. I love you, my sweet baby. Always always.