Little girl. You are now 4-years-old. Happy Birthday.
Today is your day, and it’s finally here. It seems like you’ve been waiting for your 4th birthday since the moment your 3rd birthday was over. Cake, candles, friends, family, and presents … of course you can hardly wait for the next one. Not only that, but it presents more opportunity to tease, “You don’t want me to get older, mom? I’m getting older!” you love to say in your incredibly happy, singsong voice.
For me, your 4th birthday has brought on an abundance of emotions that I can’t quite wrap my head around. Why the number 4 nearly brings me to tears is a mystery. It’s certainly not like I long for the endless, sleepless days of you as a baby. Perhaps it seems like a marker of finality. You are no longer an infant. You are no longer a toddler. You are a full-blown, amazing, exciting kid. We can only go forward and we can’t stop time.
Fortunately, it keeps getting better. As a baby you cried. You cried, you cried, you cried, and cried. And then you laughed. You are eager to tell a joke, eager to make a funny face, eager to be silly in any way.
I sincerely admire the joy in you; it’s something I hope stays with you throughout your life.
This past year you have grown more confident in asserting your individualism and personality over me. I used to be better able to sway you toward, say, the more unique toy vs. the Disney Princess toy. The swimsuit you insisted on getting at Target the other day was the last one I would have picked. You were very excited about a ring that bore a picture of Hannah Montana. When I asked you who she was, you looked at me with sheer, embarrassed disgust, and said in a very, ‘Duh, Mom,’ kind of voice, “it’s Hannah Ontana.”
I took comfort in knowing you actually had no idea who Hannah “Ontana” was, but it occurred to me that you truly may grow up to have very different tastes than me. You just may choose something like cheerleading over Art Club. And I’m going to have to be okay with it. (Note to self: consider that 4-years-old may not be too young to read The Catcher in the Rye.)
The thing of it is that as similar or different as you may be from me, you are my child through and through, and I love you with tenacity. I did not realize what it would be like to watch someone like you grow through my own fierce emotions. You surprise me, amaze me, frustrate me, and love me back.
I think you love everything, really. You kiss like there’s no tomorrow. Everyone and everything that you can kiss, you do. Any people, dogs, cats, friends, even fish if you can get your hands on one, will get a kiss from you. I probably get 100 kisses a day, and I hold onto every one because I know that someday it will probably stop.
You suddenly ride your bike like you know what you’re doing, and it takes serious self-control to not stand over you at every moment. I want to hold my arms around you to protect you from the possibility of getting hurt. While you certainly have a cautiousness about you, you face your life with gusto. You are outgoing, excited, and brave. Gone are the days that you would prefer to stay with me vs. playing with friends at preschool or the playground.
I’m proud of you, Rosemary June. Amazed, really. I pray every day that my efforts as your mother will nurture you and help you grow into the fantastic girl who I see you are becoming. I think you have it in you to be great without any help from me, and I really want to make sure I don’t hold you back.
I love you to the moon and back, kid; and I hope your life is full of many happy birthdays.