Letter to My Three-Year-Old


When I looked at you in the rearview mirror this morning on the way to your Nana’s house, you somehow looked older. Your hair was all curled up thanks to the layered haircut you got last week, and your bangs were swept to the right side and held by a magenta flower hair clip. You were looking out the window and I felt like I noticed a difference from yesterday when you were two, to today when you’re officially three years old.

I glanced at your sister on the other side of the car, who was looking out the opposite window, and felt like you just looked like that — it seems like yesterday when you were 14 months old.

Monkey, 14 months

14-month-old sunbather

THREE YEARS. It’s been three years since my life changed in the most wonderful and miraculous of ways. It simultaneously feels like less and more time has passed.

Monday, April 21, 2008, 12:30 a.m.

You were born at 12:30 a.m. after an hour and a half of pushing. It took your daddy two tries to cut the umbilical cord and then they laid you on me, all bloody. It was what I wanted. I remember feeling absolutely amazed at what had transpired. I couldn’t stop saying to your daddy, “I can’t believe we made her.” It was truly the most remarkable and miraculous thing to happen in our lifetimes.

There really was no hope of sleeping after you were born. By the time we made it up to the recovery room, it was 2 a.m. The the nurse gave you your first bath and we didn’t try to go to sleep until around 3:30 a.m. Your daddy fell asleep immediately, but I couldn’t sleep. I just kept staring at you and touching you to make sure you were still breathing. I was on such an adrenaline high.

One-day-old Monkey

Monkey, you are such a joy. Your personality is SO BIG. You are exuberant. You are alternately sensitive, yet defiant. You want to be heard. Things always have to be done a certain way. You are stubborn. You are empathetic and concerned about the well-being of others. You are confident in your own opinions. You want to feel included at all times. You are caring and nurturing.

You get many of these traits from me. While it has been challenging for me at times to deal with my own personality, I think I’ve got it figured out, and I think it will serve you well, too.

You love Dora, chocolate, ice cream and anything sweet. You love to be outside. I think I could push you on the swings for three hours until my arm fell off and you still wouldn’t be tired of it. You want a dog. You want to help with everything, including making every meal. You ask to help wash the dishes every night and you want to help with the laundry and unloading the dishwasher. You take great pride in your accomplishments and you basically want to do everything by yourself. You love to bake with me. Your curiosity is unbridled. You have an amazing memory. You’re creative and want to draw, color, paint — and your latest — cut with a scissors. You still love to cuddle, and sometimes when we lay down with you at bedtime you ask to hold our hand. (I heart this).

You probably are one of the funniest people I know. Obviously, I’m biased, but you make me laugh out loud on a daily basis. When one of my aunts sees pictures of you, she says, “I can just see her thinking, ‘I’m so funny’ because you probably tell her that every day.” And I think I do tell you that almost every day.

You are learning how to identify and express your emotions, and you communicate in such a way that it makes me feel like you’re older than you are. You listen to everything we say and ask questions about difficult subjects that I’m not sure how to explain.

You continue to become your own person and I’m in awe of the process. I’m also a little nervous. Because from the moment you were born and every day since, you’ve taught me how to be a parent. You’ll always be my first born, my test case, the one I make the most of my mistakes on.

It was a slightly terrifying time to be a first-time mother, feeling overwhelmed and incapable, and in typical “you” fashion, you didn’t make it any easier on me. That’s okay though, because you force me to be my best. And I want to be my best for you. We’ll keep figuring it out together. So far, I think we’re doing a pretty good job.

I am so happy to be your mama.

She looks so big here that it kind of takes my breath away.

April 21, 2011 - Someone's sister wasn't interested in a birthday morning photo shoot.

Happy third birthday to my great big girl.


13 responses »

    • Yes, Bean was fit to be tied this morning, and there was lots of crying and wailing. Monkey thought it was amusing. 😉

  1. What a neat idea to have a blog….the kids will love reading this someday and hearing about what they did/said. The stories (and photo captions) always crack me up. 🙂

  2. What a touchy birthday tribute! “Monkey” is lucky to have you for a mom.

    And speaking as an only child, aka the one and only “test case” for my parents, you can’t screw up too badly 😉 You’re a great mom, and you have two adorable daughters to show for it!

  3. Happy birthday to Monkey! I know both of you very well, and you and hubby are doing a GREAT job with Monkey and Bean! I look to you guys for parenting tips and advice and you’ve never let me down. 🙂

  4. Happy birthday to Monkey! I agree with Amy – I love the last picture. And the second to last one? Oh my gosh, such a big girl.

    • I know – I don’t know if it’s the angle or what, but she looks at least 5 years old to me in that pic.

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