A Letter to our Amelia on her 4th BirthdayJanuary 14, 2014
Four years ago today, your Dad and I held our breath as you took your first. You entered our life a 4.5-pound squalling stranger. Now, you are the inquisitive brown-eyed beauty at the center of our world.
You know Amelia, I have been wondering about some things lately – wondering, in particular, about how you feel about turning four? Do you feel different?
To me, four seems very different from three. Four seems to mark a real transition – both physically and in perception.
I’ve noticed, for example, how much you’ve stretched out recently. You used to curl up like a warm snuggly ball in my lap. But that’s not really possible anymore. Now, there are lanky arms and legs dangling everywhere. And those precious tiny dimples that you used to have on the backs of your hands? I noticed the other day that they’ve been replaced with little knuckles. And your little feet no longer have the universal baby triangular shape. At some point during the last year, they’ve taken on their own unique appearance. Like the rest of you, they’ve stretched out. Still baby smooth, but now they are long and slender like your Dad’s. It’s like your body is giving us subtle hints as to the eventual appearance of grown-up Amelia – and they all preview a real beauty!
Also, you should know that it just seems fundamentally different to say that I have a “four-year-old.” Four feels so much more complex. When I think of a “four-year-old,” I picture a thinking, reasoning, complicated little human, instead of a rather big baby. And you certainly are a complex little person. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you are now officially a big kid, even if you are still the smallest among them.
Well, my little big kid, I’m excited for you. Now is when the fun really begins! At four, the door to a whole new world of opportunity opens wide. Summer day camps, soccer teams, sleepovers, lip gloss, board games and more! It’s like you’re about to embark upon your “childhood.” Officially!
And speaking of “childhood,” there is something else I’ve been wondering about. I’ve been wondering whether age four marks the beginning of your “childhood memories.” Is this the age when you will start holding on to some of your memories for good? (I think that four is about the earliest age that I can remember myself, and so I suppose that it may be true for you too.) I’ve got to say, that prospect is exciting given all of the new things that a four-year-old can do. But it’s also a little sad.
It’s sad because some of the most precious times are already behind us. I would be sorry, for example, if you don’t hold on to any memories at all from our time in Austin, Texas. Of the house where we lived when you were born. The red flowers and happy butterflies on your nursery walls. The big yellow and red floor mat where you learned to walk. The kitchen cabinets that you so loved to empty.
So Amelia, if you do happen to retain a few of your three-year-old moments, I hope they will be these:
- Being able to recite the Kalahurka Family Dinner Cheer before you could even reach the table.
- Reading time on the big red beanbag with your Dad every night.
- “Lips,” and then more books.
- Doing the “double burrito” and laughing like crazy.
- Playing family hide-and-seek and being unable to resist giggling from your hiding place.
- Matching family tack suit Saturdays.
- Telling me (quite seriously) that I “ruined your life.”
- Snuggle mornings in the big bed.
- After school shows and “regular chocolate milk.”
- Dripping and streaking through the house after bath — laughing like crazy.
Yes. If everything else from your three-year-old days fades away, I hope you hang on to these few sparkling gems. For me, these moments are defining. These are the moments that I will forever recall when I close my eyes and think “Three-Year-Old-Amelia.”
Before I wrap up, there is one more thing that I’ve been wondering about. I wonder (somewhat selfishly) whether you will have many memories of me as I am now – in these last few months and years when I can still claim to be something of a “young woman.” Will you remember me before my hair has gone gray? Before the little lines on my face have grown deep and the dark circles under my eyes permanent? I wonder — when you are forty, what face will you see when you close your eyes and think “Mom?”
Whatever version of me you happen to picture, I hope you will always know this. It really isn’t important whether you remember me as old or young – wrinkly or smooth – frail or strong. When you close your eyes and think of Mom, the most important thing is that you immediately feel an overwhelming sense of being loved. Because you are little one – so much more than you may ever realize.
You are a marvel.
You are unique.
In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you.
Your Dad and I are so fortunate to have you in our lives.
Happy 4th Birthday Little One.