The past three years, I’ve written letters to KLC on her birthday eve, including the night before she was born. Read them here (includes birth and 1 YO) and here (2 YO). The following was started in the wee hours of her birthday yesterday and finished just now, one day later.
Also: I cannot get the following letter to format with spaces between the paragraphs! Annoying, but I also cannot waste more time on it. I hope it’s still relatively readable.
My sweet 3 year old,
It is 4 AM. I just watched you roll around on your bed in the room you share with your brother as you were partially awakened by his cries for milk in the night. He didn’t want me to leave, but I see on the video monitor that you are both once again quiet in your beds.
Three years ago, I was waking from another night of poor sleep in the Texas Children’s Hospital Pavilion for Women as the midwives used Cervadil to ready my body to deliver. I woke up having faintly regular contractions, and then I spent the day laboring with the help of an IV of Pitocin. You were born at 11:41 PM on St. Nicholas’ Day. I was happy to deliver just before the day changed so you would share your birthday with a happy holiday rather than a tragic one, Pearl Harbor Day on December 7.
Speaking of tragedies, there have been many lately in our world. I cannot comprehend them, and I struggle to even read the news reports of people killing one another in places like Paris and San Bernadino. I definitely cannot yet explain any of it to you, though soon I must. You are so smart and aware. A couple of months ago, we were given a stack of children’s books from a friend whose children are now grown. I didn’t look through them before letting you peruse the pile, and you started “reading” an illustrated life of Abraham Lincoln. Later, I came to read with you, and you turned to the page with John Wilkes Booth at the theater, and said, “Mommy, what this guy doing? He poking him?” I simply said, “Yes,” and turned the page, leaving the topic of guns and assassination to another day, hopefully far into the future.
This phase of parenting feels so new and raw. How can it be that each year gets easier as the old challenges fade and immeasurably harder as the weight of truly teaching you about the world feels so heavy? At first, the weight of responsibility for keeping you alive felt so burdensome. Do I have enough milk? Why is she crying? Am I offering the right foods? Then, you grew to a toddler and wanted to explore yet have me close at hand. How do I let her try new things without killing herself? How do we arrange the furniture so she can climb but have the smallest chance of leaping onto the tile face-first?
Now, we have shifted from “keep you alive” to “help you thrive.” We are learning our own values anew as we pass them on to you. It is not so easy to think of why we do each thing we do, and I thank you for being patient with us as we struggle through our reasoning over time. Your father and I are learning more about one another as we find out what bothers each of us, what doesn’t, and what we hold of primary importance.
You, in the meantime, are growing more and more independent! The birth of your brother this year has not been easy for you, but you have learned great resilience. You took this opportunity to teach yourself to do many things. Just yesterday, you picked up your plate and cup and not only brought them to the sink but also opened the dishwasher and placed them inside after asking, “Mommy, these clean or dirty?” You then took yourself to the bathroom, stopping on the way when you heard daddy come to check whether he had been successful running his errand.
KLC, it is my privilege to be your mother. I look forward to seeing what 3 has in store.