I thought long and hard about the perfect photo shoot to do for your third birthday, your official big kid debut. I brainstormed interesting locales, shopped several stores for a fun birthday shirt, researched new angels and positions to pose you in. I wanted to document this milestone with pictures that screamed “I’m a KID, hear me roar!”. I really did have a plan.
But, out of the clear blue sky, something happened that took me for a jolt- you turned three years old. This week you just went and turned three without even asking how I felt about it. Your Dad and I always joked that it felt like you’ve been two forever. “Holy moly, she’s been two years old for like ever”, we would say. No one ever believed it, either. You talk nonstop. You engage in conversation, with real dialogue and concern for what the other person has to say. You ask anyone you meet if they have a dog, or a dad. You ask what their names are. You want to know how those around you feel, or if they’ve had a good day. You give practical solutions to problems that arise. And, get this, you quote movies. OMG, I’m so serious. In context and everything, you’ll just bust out with a movie quote. Hilarity, child, you make me stop in my tracks and laugh out loud.
So, forgive me if I’m a little bummed that you went and took our favorite joke away. I guess you weren’t two forever.
After that happened, after you turned three years old without warning me and I still hadn’t taken the perfect BIG KID photo, I decided kids are overrated anyway. I like you at three years old. I don’t need a big kid. I like my baby girl exactly as she is – in pajamas, hair undone. No bows, no dresses. No backdrops or cool bokeh. Just you, at two… okay, three years old, for me to photograph and document and etch in my mind every last little detail of who are you right now.
These precious little hands that are perfectly mixed of me and Dad. Long beautiful fingers, with stumpy nails that you insist on biting. Those hands my womb created, out of something so small that it might be seen as nothing, and which I now hold so tight that even typing these words takes my breath away. Exhale. Oh Alina, promise me your hands will always fit in mine. That you never outgrow placing your hand in mine.
I want to remember these baby teeth. Gleaming and happy, always ready to make an appearance. I’m pleased you have a tooth-filled smile. Is that weird? I went through a stage where I tried to grin without teeth in photos. I’m so not that cool. I looked and felt horrible. You’re like me – we smile with our teeth. And we’re totally uncool. That makes me happy. Just remind me that we’ve got to take you to the dentist this year.
Your three year old eyes are so beautiful. People tell me all the time how much we look alike, and while I see your Dad too, it never gets old hearing that. As you grow and change, I hope those intensely perfect eyes grow with you. I hope you come to love them, and use them, to see and watch and move those around you. The knowledge that those eyes will see worlds that I haven’t seen makes a bit sad. Three years old is a big year, Alina. Letting go and pressing on is inevitable; preschool is right around the corner. I am horribly anxious at the thought of it, but plan to be the vision of strength that you need me to be. I owe that to you.
That’s the thing, Alina – you’ve always inspired me to be what I needed me to be. Strong, courageous, forgiving, patient. If I’ve ever been proud of who I am, its because of you. I pray, with all of might I pray, that I am the kind of mother that makes you proud, too.
I wouldn’t be me without all three years of you. For you and these most magical years, for the gift of self that you have granted me with your unconditional love, I am eternally grateful. Thank you, my little girl. I love you.
Te quiero por siempre, despues de siempre y un poco mas,