You are 4 years old today. How did that happen?
I won't say it feels like yesterday that you were born - because it certainly doesn't. We've all changed a lot in the last four years. Sometimes, I barely even feel like the same person who paid attention to every single detail of my pregnancy with you that long ago. I've learned that life isn't always going to be what we all want it to be, even if we are trying, in our own individual ways. Sometimes, it doesn't matter how hard you try. Things are just the way they are, and we just better get used to it. Parenthood, I've learned, is not what I thought it was going to be when I dreamed about having a child.
But I wouldn't trade it for anything. Because just as often as it's hard, there are those moments when you smile that unmatched smile or say something completely unexpected or hug me like you'll never let go, and I can't believe how much I love you.
The other morning, when Daddy was taking you to Jessica's, I was leaving for work in my car at the same time. And we looked at each other through the two car windows, you straining around Daddy to get an uninterrupted look at me, and you didn't stop waving, not until I had pulled out of the driveway and was out of sight. I didn't stop waving to you either, and I remember feeling like I was going to cry, lose it right there in my car as I drove down our suburban street, away from you. The guilt of working full-time and putting you in daycare has lessened substantially since that first awful day I dropped you off with a stranger nearly four years ago, but that day last week it all came back, fresh and raw and humbling. You are my baby, my first baby, and you always will be, no matter how old you get. I feel often like I should be there more, do more, try harder. But you are thriving.
So today, you have already asked me at least five times when we can go to the store to get a guy. Action figures now are your true love. And it is your birthday, so I will without hesitation take you to get a guy. A $10 piece of plastic that will make you happy.
You've done so much in the last year that it's hard for me to even begin to make any sort of list of those accomplishments. Your vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure are amazing. The other day you used "apparently" correctly in a sentence. And that is just one example.
You play on your own, sometimes for 30 minutes or more at a time. This is both nice and completely scary for me.
You'd eat Eggo waffles for every meal if I'd let you. Or macaroni and cheese.
You are independent, strong-willed, stubborn, determined - like someone else I know. You are also curious and sweet and smart and loving.
You crave information, activity, interaction, attention, new stimulation. I'm trying to keep up, and sometimes I do better than others.
But today, on your fourth birthday, sweetheart, I want you to know I love you more than anything else, despite the trying times, the not-so-glorious moments of parenthood.
You are everything to me, and I wouldn't trade the last four years for anything.
Happy birthday, baby.