Today you are four. Yesterday you were not quite four, and tomorrow you will be just a smidge more than four. It’s been a rather uneventful year for you, considering your history, and I am more than OK with that. We had only one brush with a nasty cold that threatened to keep you overnight at Children’s but didn’t, and coming into your fourth year you are by all accounts healthy, caught up, on track, and amazing.
You had a big year despite your lungs behaving. You learned how to dance with Daddy (and loved it!) and learned how to swim with me (and kinda sorta sometimes liked it) and learned how to wear underwear 24/7. You fully embraced your part as big sister as Freddie grew more independent, and you found a balance between being a role model for him when it suited you, and being a bad influence on him whenever you could. You said your first swear words this year (God damned pants!), and your second and third (and fourth) swears, too. You learned what sounds letters make, and you started to spell your own name.
And, you became an Ontarian. You hardly complained when we put you and your brother in the backseat of the car and drove you five thousand kilometres to our new big house in London. And now that we’re here you like to remind Daddy and me daily of all the things you can do in our new big house that we couldn’t do in our tiny Vancouver house, like run laps of our two living rooms or play in the garden in the backyard or help us wash laundry in our own machines in the basement. You’re happy here in our new home, and my heart swells with happy to see the potential in everything around us here. I can’t wait for you to trick-or-treat in a proper neighbourhood, or experience a proper Canadian winter, or grow up in a house where you can stomp your angry self up the stairs and slam your bedroom door behind you.
You went to bed last night without any dinner, after screaming at both your Dad and me that you didn’t like the meal you hadn’t taken a single bite of. You’re good at being defiant, I’ll give you that, and I know that today’s defiance will grow into fierce independence that I will love you even more for when you are a young woman. But you’re a handful and a half these days, testing your boundaries and testing our patience with every chance you get. I’d be lying if I said your fourth year hadn’t more than once made me seriously question my decision to become a mother, but the things that I continue to learn from you—the insights I’ve gained into myself and the world around me, the innocence I’ve been reminded of in the people around us, the happiness to be found in the barest of simplicity—these are the things that you, in your short four years, have rekindled and helped me rediscover in myself. Things that I—most grownups, likely—don’t realize are missing until having had a chance to spend time with a four year old like you.
The enormity of your tiny beginning fades more and more with each passing year. That we’re living in Ontario now and will never again walk that long yellow hallway at BC Children’s is as hugely relieving as it is bittersweet—to know that we’ve said goodbye forever to Dr Awesome and Dr Dee and the rest of your respirology team means that we’re flying without a net, sure, but also that we don’t need a net anymore. You’re no longer my fragile Princess Chubb Chubb. You don’t need me to watch you every minute of every day, you don’t need me to do every little thing for you, you don’t need me to make it all better all the time.
You’re only four and you’re already your own person who can form your own opinions and tell your own jokes. I look at you some days and I’m just astonished at who you are, compared to who you were yesterday and the day before that. Your growth is exponential and astounding and I wish so hard some days that I had more time to just sit and watch you watch the world go by. I love watching your big blue eyes go wide with wonder as you find a spider in the backyard or a gigantic leaf at the park. I love the stories you tell me about the days you spend being a good cooperator and helper for Daddy. I even love the incredible excuses you’re able to dream up to call your Dad and me into your bedroom twelve times a night after we’ve said goodnight.
I know that the next 5,000 days are going to fly by and your 18th birthday is going to sneak up on me just as quickly as your 4th has. And I know that by the time you turn eighteen, I’ll have a whole new laundry list of reasons to love you and things to thank you for. I remember being so afraid to love you in those first fragile hours—not knowing what your future held—and to be here today, celebrating just another day of many in what is sure to be a brilliant lifetime, I can’t tell you enough how much joy and love and happiness you bring to me day over day. I’d be lost without you.
Happy birthday birthday, Babygirl. Here’s a look back at the fun we had in your fourth year. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings us. I love you always.