I am writing this on your third birthday. You are asleep upstairs, exhausted after a long day of opening presents and entertaining grandparents. I am downstairs, equally tired after a week of preparation and late nights. It was worth it, to see the excitement on your face as you opened your presents, and to spend the day with the little girl I love so much.
This morning you said to me, “I am three now, you can’t believe it, but I am.” And that’s so true. I can’t believe that three whole years have passed since you made your grand entrance into the living room of our old house. Three whole years since you fell asleep beside me for the first time, and though my eyelids were heavy with sleep, I couldn’t stop myself staring at you.
I remember on that cold distant Monday in January, you seemed to me to be the most perfect and amazing thing that had ever lived. It was like being rewired, all of a sudden you were the only thing that truly mattered. And you still are.
We put some of your old baby things in the loft today. One of the bags split as I was lifting it out of the cupboard, and out tumbled a tiny white baby grow. I held it up, not quite believing that my independent little girl could ever have fit into it. And yet you did. And in it you spent hours asleep on my chest, waking only for feeds and nappy changes, as I tried to acclimatise to my new life of feeling forever in awe of you.
Within no time at all, you started to grow up. Time sped up and together we travelled through a montage of your infancy. You grew from the doe-eyed baby peeking out above the sling, into the contented baby excitedly exploring the world. You learnt to crawl, and then took your first tentative steps across the living room before becoming a fully fledged toddler. And then you were off. Climbing, jumping, skipping, sliding, running and dancing your way across my life.
And now, those stumbly steps of toddlerhood are long gone, replaced by your sure footed stomp. Nothing is ever out of your reach, no matter how well I think I’ve hidden it it. And nothing is ever out of your capability, with you always demanding to do things by yourself.
You are a rush of emotions, a brightly coloured canvas filled with every colour under the sun. You are happy, distraught, angry, excited, scared and in love - sometimes all at once. You always want to know more, and you love showing off new knowledge to anyone who will listen.
You hate to be told what to do, and will not let anyone bully you into anything. You are in control of yourself in a way that fills me with pride. You aren’t afraid to say no, and will adamantly stick to your guns about just about anything. You always stick up for yourself, and always with words, which makes me feel that you will do well in life. I hope you are never too scared to say what you really feel, and that you will continue to use your voice to protect yourself and the people you care about.
You are so caring, and I feel so lucky to spend my days with you. You have lifelong friends and love them dearly. You are always excited to see your friends and grandparents, and often ask to see them on days when we can’t. You tell me everyday that you love me, and always have time to sit on my knee or give me a cuddle. Every night, you fall asleep in my arms, and every morning you are the one who wakes me up (I might not seem all that grateful at the time).
We spend our days together, and I can honestly say I have never once regretted my decision to stay at home with you. Nothing makes me feel prouder than the way we adapted our family life so that I could be the one who cared for you each and every day. We filled our days with adventures, games, make believe, stories and cooking. You talk a lot, and every day you say something so wonderful (or bizarre) that I am reminded how grateful I am to be the one who hears you.
Every year brings changes, but I know that this year will feel the biggest so far. You are confident and independent, and you’re ready to take your first solo steps into the world. You had your first morning at preschool this week, and as soon as I picked you up you told me that you hadn’t been upset once. You even made a point of telling me that you didn’t miss me, not really. Later this year you will be going to nursery, and then after that it will be school. Time is fleeting, and it sometimes feels that we are stuck on fast forward and I wish so much that I could slow things down, and savour the passing moments for just a little bit longer before you grow another day older.
So, my little girl with wonder in her eyes, I promise that this year will be even more fun than the last. We will seek out adventures high and low. We will get lost in fantasy, and we will discover some of the many things you have left to experience in the world. Because, my dear, you will one day be grown. And then you probably won’t want to jump in puddles with me, or let me choose your clothes, or tell me I have to give you lots of kisses because you love kisses even though we are in the middle of a pub. And I can’t think about that just yet, so let us lose ourselves in the now, and immerse ourselves so deeply in your childhood that you never forget the magic of being three.
Happy Birthday, Ebony, I love you more than I could ever even begin to express.xx