Third

Caroline pranced into her classroom this morning with homemade Valentine’s Day themed sugar cookies. (I say she pranced, but I’m guessing since Steve took her to school this morning.) Weeks ago we made the dough in her favorite kitchen gadget; the stand mixer. “Now Mommy? Now I make it go faster?” We let it chill overnight and together we rolled it out, cutting batches of hearts, squares, and stars. A little girl squealed with delight as I clipped the icing tubes and let her at the cooled cookies with an arsenal of red and white cookie icing. I was still pregnant, laughing at myself wearing an apron over my baby bump. She was still two years old, standing on the “helper chair.” Those cookies were frozen and put aside for today – a special treat for her third birthday.

Third Birthday.

While I was home on bed rest I thought about starting this post and saving it in draft, editing it carefully and slowly, giving her birthday all my time and attention, knowing that when it actually arrived I wouldn’t be able to give myself over 100% to her day. I thought better of this plan because I knew that in the time between then and now her brother would hopefully arrive and her world would change. I would see her through fresh eyes. I’m glad I waited.

Caroline has been challenging. She’s been stubborn. She’s put my voice in the permanently off position in her dial of selective listening preferences. She’s been in time out more than any other time in her life. She says things like, “Mommy, I no say idiot” to get my attention and get herself put into time out. She’s been a whiny snooty nosed bag of tears. She’s looked at me at the most impossible times and said, “Mommy, you grumpy.”

Caroline has been Mommy’s little helper. She’s been proactive – “I get the diaper!” She’s been inquisitive – “what’s that mommy?” She has been gentle and protective and adoring. She’s anticipating his needs; “Mommy feed him, feed him with your body!” I’ve heard her say “I love you Connor.” She’s held her brother’s hands in her own and compared the size of his feet to her size 7 sneakers. One morning as I rushed to get dressed before changing his diaper, I turned around and she had things set up for a change. She’d even twisted the top of the triple paste container off and placed it to the side. Just like Mommy. She’s helped me give Connor all three of his sponge baths. She’s reported his awake/asleep status from the backseat of the car. She demands that his bundle me be positioned just so in the car to provide her with optimal brother viewing. On the rare occasions that we leave the house, she holds onto the snap n go like a parade balloon whipping the hood of his car seat back to reveal him to her tiny classmates or elderly shoppers who stop to gawk. She stands proudly next to him daring any drippy nosed toddler to even consider touching her perfect “baby brudder.” She talks about him at school so much that her classmates know his name.

We’re in the midst of the most dramatic change in Caroline’s young life. She’s adapting to life with a new best friend all while watching the security of the life around her get wrapped up in newsprint, taped into a box, and labeled. Sure, she’s sensitive these days. Who wouldn’t be? How could she NOT be?

I spent part of her terrible twos pining for another baby and the rest wondering how it would be when he arrived. I felt immense guilt and tremendous hope. Even if there was no Connor today, I would still be blown over with the little lady my Caroline has become. She tells tall tales out of the side of her mouth through squinted eyes. I listen to her sing spontaneous songs she’s written in her own head. I watch her cut pieces of paper to shreds with “my tiny scissors.” My heart fills with pride when she finishes a meal and says “excuse me.” She shakes her head and her curls move with her now. She paints amazing pictures that only she can accurately interpret. She still prefers to wear “ballerinas,” but lately she’s been asking Steve to take her skating. I’m allowed to come too. I can hold her hand, she says.

Just when I thought that I could not love her anymore than I possibly did, she started communicating at an alarming and clear/concise rate. We have full conversations now about all sorts of things and her memory for past events is staggering. She talks endlessly about her stint as “the flowergirl,” though her favorite part was getting a pop from Hokie. She understands the world around her, anticipates what comes next, and has started asking us “why?” in quick succession. She’s amazing and I feel so fortunate to be her mommy. A simple gesture like holding my hand with her little paw gives me those tummy butterflies. Three years later she still wants to touch my belly, my just had a baby mushy tummy, and I never try to stop her. Caroline gives the best and tightest hugs and this morning I looked at her and asked for a special one from the birthday girl. I lifted her chin with my hand, looked into her doe brown eyes and told her that three years ago she was a tiny little baby like Connor and that I was so proud of the big girl she has become. I told her I loved her so very much and she hugged me tight, smiling, “I love you so much too.” The best job I’ve ever had is being her mom. The pay leaves a little something to be desired, but the benefits package is irreplaceable.

Happy Third Birthday Caroline! You truly are the sweetest girl in the world.

6 comments:

  1. We are back to original comment settings here due to a comments hosting issue. I have exported all the comments, but ones posted before I played with the HTML will no longer appear. Rest assured, I have them, you just cannot see them... Happy commenting.

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  2. I can't believe what a wonerful ride the last three years have brought us all!! I remember her birthday like it was yesterday. She is a beautiful little girl, inside and out, and I love her!

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  3. This post got me a little teary eyed. Happy Birthday Caroline.

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  4. Happy, happy Miss Caroline! It's hard to believe but we've known you half your life already...and what a joy that is. Hope you have a super-duper day, filled with love and hugs and lots of cookies! xoxox

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  5. A beautiful post for a beautiful little girl! Happy Birthday!

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  6. Aw. Definitely teary eyed. Can't believe Caro is three - can't believe the little bundle in my arms will be the full of personality toddler someday. Miss you guys!!!

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