Last Friday you officially turned three. So now when we ask you how old you are, you say “Three” and then just to be sure you add “Three, not two.” And you do it every single time I ask you.it should’ve gotten old, but it hasn’t yet. We celebrated with an intimate gathering over the weekend and made plans to do more over the summer.
The best thing about raising a three year old is undoubtedly the chance to raise a three year old. The chance to be able to see that you are kind, empathetic, tender, wilful, wise, compassionate and independent. Ah, independence, that one really seems to be getting to me nowadays. It flows in with the good and then slams you with the bad.
You want to dress yourself and watch me closely as I put on my makeup. “What is that?” you ask as I put on some lipstick and obviously follow it up with “I want some too.” So I let you have some, only it’s the Burt bees lip balm. You stand on your little step stool and pout your lips as I put some on for you. As soon as I am done, you run over to the mirror and ask me ‘Do I look as pretty as you mom?” I smile and say “Yes.” And think “Only a million times prettier!” I am equal parts humbled and flattered that you want to be “just like mommy.”
Today you fell over backwards and mostly just scared yourself; but when Dad tried to grab you, you pushed him away and called to me. As soon as I was there you flew into my arms and wrapped your little body around mine. You dug your face into a nook in my body and cried until I sang and soothed you. I haven’t had you need me that way for a while now. I miss it. I miss being needed the way that you used to need me as a baby.
There is a perverse pleasure that only a mother can derive from being able to pacify her crying baby. It comes from knowing that nothing and no one else in this universe can make things better the way that I can. From knowing that I am precisely what my baby needs, just the way that I am.
I remember those nights when I would try and get you to sleep. It was never easy, it was never quick. One bedtime story always somehow turned into three, there were always a few tears shed for just one more song and you always wanted to be hugged just a little bit tighter, for a little bit longer. I just wanted you to go to bed! Why couldn’t you just go to bed? Most nights I felt trapped, I had a million things to do before I could just sit down and not do anything. For fifteen minutes I wanted to be not needed. For fifteen minutes I wanted to be left alone. I wanted bedtime to be quick, painless and efficient.
And more often than not that is the case now. You just need me to come in and say “Good night, sleep tight! Lil one.” And then you pretty much go to sleep all by yourself.
Except tonight. You couldn’t seem to fall asleep and you wanted me to come in and stroke you silken hair for a little while and tell you one story and then you begged for another one. I realized how much I miss that nightly ritual. How much I miss being begged to stay, how much I miss being wanted that much. So much for efficiency, where is the warmth in being quick?
The weird thing is that the mundane of raising a baby, the things that exasperated me the most are the ones I miss!
The unfortunate tradeoff of my baby growing up is being needed less and less. A mom goes from being needed 24X7, to not so often, to rarely ever. I get that this is the natural progression of things and yet the idea is beginning to terrify me.
But I can promise you this:
For as long as you will need me to hold you while you drift off to sleep, I will gratefully do it.
For as long as you will allow me to engulf you into my warmth, I will happily do it.
For as long as you need to hold on to me to feel safe and warm, I will do anything to be there.
Happy Third Birthday my darling!