My little princess love is 3 years old today. Three. Years. Old.
It’s funny how despite my best efforts to keep her from growing up too quickly, every year passes by faster than the last. To be fair, this past year was probably the slowest of our lives, but that didn’t mean father time stopped ticking or Raegan stopped growing. I didn’t notice the changes in her so clearly as her father did, who had to watch her grow up through pictures sent to his email and the occasional, shaky skype call.
But when he pointed out what was different, it hit me like a ton of bricks. This baby of mine was actually a little girl, and though I thought I had years to learn what I needed to teach her about being a little girl, I actually had minutes. Fleeting, too brief, moments in time. I thought somehow between infancy and girlish years, I would learn all of the life lessons that she needed to know. And during that time, too, I would be able to pass them onto her in blessed assurance that she was taking in everything she needed to, to grow up happy, confident, and remarkable.
Then I blinked. And she was three feet tall and three years old, going on the rest of her adolescence. And she is happy. She’s confident that she’s safe and loved. And she is remarkable. The most remarkable little person I have ever known.
It’s also remarkable that she refuses to learn how to use the potty despite being able to have real, thought provoking conversations since she was 2 and converse in sentences since she was 18 months. But, that’s neither here nor there.
What is here is her birthday. And though I thought it was supposed to be me teaching her all about life, it turns out, the roles were reversed. Today, I want to share with you the 7 life lessons my daughter taught me:
1. You can lead a horse to water… or a girl to the potty chair… Clearly, this is an ongoing battle in our household, and if I’m being honest, I’ve all but given up the fight for now. When I was pregnant, I was so sure about the timeline in which my daughter would do the things that I wanted her to do. She would be walking by one (10 months), she would be communicable by 18 months (she was), and she was to be potty trained by two (haha!). And then I had her. And I realized every kid can’t be everything. She showed me what an independent little creature she truly is; that the only thing I can control in this life, is myself. Who knew?
2. Patience truly is a virtue. It never helps when I get angry and raise my voice, because she is so sensitive to that form of reprimanding that she immediately bursts into tears; and I either carry around the world’s meanest mom trophy or I kneel down and explain to her why I yelled. I usually choose the latter. At that point, I’m forced to admit that there really was no good reason that I couldn’t have knelt down to begin with and done my explaining. Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self… #yellingdoesntmakethemessagemoreclear
3. Playtime really is important. Watching Raegan play, or better yet, being involved in her world of make believe, is pure magic. The ideas she comes up with, the conversations she has between her two dolls (or monsters, as she is still infatuated with Monsters Inc.), the way she absorbs every detail of certain adult behavior and portrays that through her pretending… it blows my mind. There is no greater reminder for me, that I have a constant shadow. A sponge soaking up everything that I’m putting out into the world. When I say that she makes me want to be a better person, I am not being dramatic. I have no choice but to be the type of woman that I would be proud for her to grow into. And that, my friends, is as good a reminder as you can get!
4. Be grateful for what you have, not envious of what you want. When my toddler actually acts like a toddler, which is rare, and begins throwing a fit, I always give her two options: Either she can stop crying/wailing about the injustice she clearly doesn’t appreciate or she can go in her room. Most of the time she will stop crying, go to her room, and resume crying in private until she’s ready to rejoin the family. She can be up there yelling at the top of her lungs out of pure frustration, but when she’s finished, she will come down with a big smile and declare “I feel all better!” Yes, my three year old really does this. And then I get upset because she doesn’t go pee where I want her to; what is wrong with me?!
5. You can’t go wrong when you’re under 36 inches and you’re getting dressed. Everything in the world looks adorable. Long blonde hair and big blue eyes help in this department, but mostly it’s because she’s a tiny person. With a real person’s body. But it’s just so darn little. Eeek-where is she-I need to squeeze her asap!
6. Being polite is a learned trait, being kind comes from the heart. When Travis left for deployment last year, Raegan had just turned two. I remember rocking her with tears streaming down my face one night, before he left, in anticipation of the year without him. And I remember, even more clearly, Raegan holding me tighter and chanting “It’s okay mama, it’s okay mama” over and over until I finally agreed with her. I’ve also witnessed her handing out candy or her beloved fruit snacks to anyone who asks for a taste…down to her final one. She is kind and generous of heart, and if it’s a learned thing, I just can’t imagine she sees in me the sort of compassion and natural love I see in her. I am so proud to be her mama.
7. Everything is amazing. Life is amazing, I think we can all agree. If we stop and just really think about it, life is amazing. But when was the last time you watched a garbage truck empty your can in front of the house- wide eyed and grinning ear to ear- and then turned to the person next to you and exclaimed, “That was amazing!” Because that happens in our house almost every week. Even if I don’t necessarily agree that garbage trucks are one of the seven wonders of the world, I get to see what she sees. And she sees wonder in every mundane part of life. I could learn a lot from that perspective!
I am beyond blessed to have this beautiful, angelic light in my life. She has escalated my existence’s purpose and significance. In three years, I have learned so much more from her than I ever dreamed. The day she was born will forever be the best day of my life. Period.