Dear daughter, today you turn three. And although I will miss your tiny little voice, and your tiny face, I am excited for the year ahead of us.
This year you surprised me in so many ways. Your personality is clearer than ever. You are the charming little weirdo with a great laugh who is quick to use it. You’re brave, braver than I could have ever hoped you would be. Whether it’s facing down the dentist for the first time or spending your first nights away from me, you’ve gone at it all with the same determination.
Determination, the exhausting, frustrating, and at times infuriating determination to do everything yourself and your way. That attitude will serve you well later in life. Even though I complain about it, and about the ways that you are constantly testing the limits and pushing my buttons, some day I will tell you that’s what got you where you are. That’s how you got to the top, to the head of the class, to the best job and the happiest life. Because I can see that in your future even now.
Dear daughter, I see the woman you will become some day. She’s deep inside of you, but she’s there. The way you run to your baby sister when she cries and you say, “Shhh, sweetheart, I’m here.” The way you always rush to help with dinner or cleaning up (unless of course I’m asking you to help with something, then you suddenly go deaf and limp). Or the time we stood in line at the store and the woman walked passed with boxes stacked tall and you asked her if she needed help. I see the woman you will become and she is kind and thoughtful and wonderful.
She’s also my link to the past.
This year we said goodbye to your great-grandmother. You grew up at her slippered feet. You learned to walk by navigating over her oxygen line. The two of you shared a passion for afternoon bananas and giggles, I can’t believe she isn’t here to celebrate with us this year. It’s hard sometimes to hear you use some of her phrases, or mention her, because I know someday you will stop, some day she will have been out of your life longer than she was in it and your memory of her will fade.
I worry about that day, but not as much as I once did, because I now understand that you and I will keep her memory alive together. You will remind me of all of the good times when you quote her and when you start to forget those words, or when you no longer remember who gave you that baby doll you love so much, well I will just remind you.
Last year I was sad about how quickly you were changing, and how much I missed those little things that you used to do. This year, I can’t believe how much you’ve changed. What will I miss tomorrow… everything. The real question I should be asking is, what will you show me tomorrow?
Dear daughter, I love you. Happy third birthday. Stay weird, stay kind, stay brave.