Dear 3-year-old Marin,
I just decided it was a good idea to look at old pictures of you…It was not. I remember holding you every few weeks (and then months) as a baby and thinking “she’s gotten so big!” – but then, you got bigger, and are now you are big enough to not fit comfortably in my arms – but that doesn’t stop you from finding and curling up in them. You’re so long, and all of a sudden, you and I both wish a little more than usual that you were smaller and more baby-like. (You actually told Miss Lydia “Mommy doesn’t like when I get older. It makes her sad when I have a birthday”. Umm….apparently, I don’t hide these feelings well around you).
By now, I felt like we were finally getting into a good little two-kid groove – where I didn’t feel as guilty about having a second child – and then came the school year – like a sucker punch . The majority of your local friends are going at least 2 days a week (with many going for 5) to preschool, and I really struggled to not enter the comparison game. Daddy and I crunched numbers and long-debated over it, but I made the final say to say “No – we’re not doing it” and to instead prioritize family time and outings. It was me who decided that I’d rather have Lydia’s help a few hours each week doing household chores so that they didn’t fall on me and Daddy after bedtime to do. Or that I would rather have the mornings with just you while Isaac napped. Or that I’d rather go to Florida more. Or that I’d rather save for a house. Or _____. It was a what’s-best-for-everyone analysis, and as much as I wanted to be surprised by your crafts or hear what you did in school each day, I decided to instead do them all alongside you.
That’s the next phase – with Daddy studying hard for his ARE exams, and working full-time, and starting Shovelr, and me in the middle of a Bradley series – I’m going to start planning out things to do together in the mornings. I found that having pre-organized, coordinated activities and craft packets were such a win at Christmastime last year that I’m hoping to do them more. I’m trying to weigh the balance of fun and reality – there’s a lot going on and I don’t want you to feel like you fell to the wayside in the craziness. Not that you do, but I certainly feel that way when I leave for a class or to go prepare for one, or when Isaac struggles to go down for a nap, or there’s dishes to clean, laundry to fold, and dinner to make. I didn’t want you to feel like you got our leftovers or fumes this year, and subsequent short tempers and tired minds, but you certainly did enough for me to feel like the fog would never lift.
But now, that I’ve taken to finishing this letter, three months later than I wanted when I started to write you (as if that’s any indication that there’s a lot going on), I’ve realized that these letters are really vulnerable to how I feel in a moment and poorly represent an entire year as a result. Just three months later, I have seen the benefits of not sending you to preschool clearer in hindsight. You’ve now taken trips with Daddy to Rhode Island and Washington D.C. and down to North Carolina with just me and Isaac at the drop of a hat. We’ve had family in town, and you’ve gone with them to New Hampshire and regular breakfast trips to Dunkin’ Donuts without having to rush you off to school or a playgroup.
Often this blog represents my tension in the moment, not the results of my decision – but after the toil has dwindled, what will remain are the memories and the scrapbooks I (still) need to catch up on and the relationships that mean the most to us – the ones with our family – near and far. You will one day be school-age and these Falls will not be nearly as possible, but for now they are, and I’m enjoying that flexibility with you. I’m giggling at your disappointment that we were only going to see the White House and not tour it and witnessing the first time you touched moon rocks – while trying to become more organized – enough to strategize another year’s juggling act. For all the fears and drawbacks I saw of my decision around your birthday, I can now testify to the benefits that I’ve enjoyed as your Mom and laugh at my unrealistic expectations of pre-assembling packets for you. Who knows, maybe this winter I’ll get to it – for now, you just appreciate the moments we can sit and read books leisurely, stirring our eggs for our daily-shared breakfast omelette, and running in circles around the house with your brother. And as lame as that feels to type, and as simple as it sounds, that’s really all you need at this age. I’m sticking to my guns, and am re-reminding myself to let life be as simple as it can be for as long as we can.
I keep feeling like this letter is some sort of testimony to how I felt during your 3rd year – and it is. It’s not so much about what you did, or what we did, but about the haze that this year together was and how that felt for me. But this year was your year too. It was the year you took to the backseat with tremendous grace and had your first serious screaming-and-kicking-as-we-leave-the-park tantrums. It was the year you heard me say ‘no’ the most, and the year you used big kid scissors to cut for the first time or started to color your pictures more exactly. It was the year we ate a lot of Five Guys and Triple A (translation: ChickfilA), saw more of the country than ever before, and you learned to blow bubbles underwater. It was the year your confidence and independence grew exponentially, and the year you discovered sugar and how to get to it in the cabinets. It was the year that you became the world’s best preschool-aged negotiator and responded to my every ‘just one’ with a peace sign and the most serious face saying ‘two’.
Awhile ago now, I asked Daddy, “do you think she’ll go into medicine?” as we fine tuned our list of top adjectives to describe you and discerned what dreams we saw growing in your big heart. And he said, “whatever she does, I have no doubt that she will be the most compassionate person doing it” – whether it’s adorning our boo-boo’s with princess band-aids, sharing your last M&M, or drawing another masterpiece to hang on the fridge – you do it with so much care and concern for others. It’s humbling and convicting to witness and as always, it’s an honor to be the mother of someone so special and kind.
I love you Peanut, my Star, my Sweet, Sweet Girl – all nicknames you now know are said only by me to you. May your fourth year be the best one yet.