My darling eldest daughter,
Three years ago today, well if we’re being precise, three years and quite a few more hours yet, in the dusk of a sunny September day, a voice said to me:
“Open your eyes! Your baby’s here!”
I opened my eyes and my arms, and in that moment, as a small pink bundle of squeaky newborn was passed up to me, I was no longer the very pregnant and ever so slightly grumpy girl who’d spent the last few weeks wondering if this bump was ever going to turn into a baby, I was a mother. In that moment, suddenly I had a daughter who I love with all of my heart.
And now you are a whole three years old.
This last year has been another catalogue of milestones and adventures. The biggest upheaval was the arrival of your little sister. You haven’t always been too sure that you wanted to share Mama and Daddy with this little tiny new person, but whilst you’ve had your moments of being a bit cross with me, you fell in love with your Elma at first sight, fiercely defending her from anyone who might like to take a peek. You give her enormous cuddles, sometimes bigger than she’d really like, pick up her toys when she drops them, and sing to her if she gets sad, usually interspersed with a “don’t worry babycakes!” and a curt “come on Mummy!”.
I am so proud of you; we turned your world upside down, and you’ve taken it in your stride. I am loving watching your relationship as sisters develop, and I think it’s only going to get better as Elma becomes more able to interact with you, and just that bit more robust.
Your greatest change was the language explosion; you went from words to simple sentences, and now you’re coming out with some wonderful expressions. You’re just the chattiest little thing; you tell us that you love us, that you’re happy, or that you’re “just not very happy right now”, all about your days at nursery, or wonderfully imaginative tales about your dollies or your Duplo people.
And that language has allowed your sense of humour to blossom; our Spanish hotel’s drive was long and incredibly potholed and at the end of a sandy beach afternoon, you and your sister were asleep as far as we were aware and all was quiet and tired in the car as your Daddy tried to steer around the bumps, until a little voice chirped up from the back seat:
You’ve grown like a weed too this year; you’re currently wearing size 4 or 5 clothes and an impressive size 9 shoes. They were a 5 on your last birthday! But as well as getting taller and longer you’ve also got sturdier, more confident on your feet and happy to run and jump, which is probably a good thing; where playgrounds are concerned, if you see it, you’re certain you can do it, even if you happen to be watching teenagers on the death slide at the time.
You are a beautifully openhearted little girl; you throw yourself into hugs with every ounce of energy and everyone is your friend. As I don’t know all of the children at your nursery off by heart, at least not when I see them out of context, we often have to have little conversations to work out whether “my friend” is someone you actually know, or just met:
“What’s your friend’s name sweetie?”
“I don’t know. She’s my best friend!”
Probably not your very best friend then poppet.
One day you will have to learn that not all of the world is your friend, but that day isn’t yet. For now we’ll just keep a close eye on you and try to gently teach you as you grow older.
I love your creativity too; you love to paint (the paper, your hands, your clothes, your eyebrows, the list goes on), to colour in, to construct sky-scraping Duplo towers all the way to the ceiling and tell the story of Princesses Ginger and Ariel who live there, or set up the dollies (and your sister) to have a tea party, with food catered with a flourish from your little play kitchen.
I know I’m biased but I think you’re turning out to be a little clever clogs. If you want an ice-cream you tell me that you think Daddy “just really wants one right now”, even if he’s at work, and you want to look at toys in the shops “for baby Elma”. Daddy once called you a smartie pants but you corrected him:
“No Daddy, I’m not a smartie pants, I’m wearing Minnie pants!”
And so you were, having mastered potty training in the Spring with the help of a whole album’s worth of Disney Princess stickers.
At three you still love your princesses and Minnie Mouse, but pretending to be Doc McStuffins is a new favourite; given your fascination with all of my antenatal appointments last year, perhaps we have another future doctor in the family.
This year you swam in the ocean, rode a steam train and played on the big girl swings.
You dance like no one is watching, play at being a mermaid in your bath and love to take pictures with any camera to hand. You sprint to the front door the minute you hear your Daddy’s key in the lock, now closely followed by a rapidly crawling Elma and hug him as if you’ve been parted for days.
You have a steely determination even in the face of indisputable evidence to the contrary, and will tell me most firmly that your name begins with J for Jellyfish not F for Froggie, or that we didn’t bring home from the shop the toy currently sat on your knee. This is the time for you to test your boundaries, and you do; just checking to see if they’re where you left them, with a cheeky glint in your eye. You are teaching me to parent; it’s a learning curve for both of us and I think you know that I’m trying to get it right, even when I get it all wrong.
And yet despite all of this growing and changing, you are still that little baby of mine, curling up in my lap for reassurance, thumb in mouth and spare fingers tangling themselves in my hair, or toddling into our room and our bed in the middle of the night when you wake up and realise that you’re really far too far away from Mummy.
These last three years have passed in a whirlwind of contentment, hard work, pure joy, intense frustration and every ready laughter. I love you so very very much my sweet little girl and I can’t wait to see what this year brings.
love Mummy xxx