My bella Ella,
Your entire life has been chock-full of big changes. I’m hoping that things settle down now for awhile, but this last year was no different than the past two. We moved in to a house, and you got a shiny new Baby Sister. The house was no big deal for you. You loved the process of looking and once we made the final decision, you couldn’t wait to move in and explore. Compared to our apartment, this was a palace, and the novelty of having our own yard again was a natural high.
We made sure your new room was YOUR room. You were kind enough to approve all my choices regarding paint and decor, including your own little flock of birds, to keep you company. And when we decided to switch you into a twin-size bed, in order to move the crib into the nursery? No problem! Bring on the change! You slept in that bed the very first night and haven’t looked back since.
We were really hoping that attitude would prevail with the addition of your new baby sister. That you’d accept the changes and roll with the punches. All in all, I think you’ve been more than accommodating. After all, this new person did demand lots of time from not just Mommy, but Daddy as well. You did ask several times when Sophie was going back to the hospital – mostly when Daddy was holding her, but you finally accepted that she was here to stay. And you’ve taken your duties as Big Sister very seriously. You’re vigilant in showing her new signs for words like “more” and “all done.” You’re a pro at rolling-over-instruction, dance lessons, and even help with feedings.
Your love for your little sister really gets me. The way you play with her, just to get her to giggle, could melt even the Grinch’s heart. I get all veklempt when I see you put your arm around her and say, “love you, Soph.” I know, as a sister myself, that those days will most likely disappear for awhile when she attempts to borrow your favorite shirt or throws an ice skate at you – and sometimes I wonder if you’re trying to be sneaky and smother her with your intense hugs – so I’m enjoying this time for as long as it lasts.
Some days I wish I could see in to your brain. It must be working constantly, at a million miles a minute. There are times when you tell me something that I know we haven’t talked about in over a month, but you repeat it like it was yesterday. Despite the fact that 99% of your time-outs are for NOT LISTENING, you have an increasingly freakish memory. This has really manifested itself in your love of music. You are very quiet when we introduce a new song, absorbing it all until you can repeat it back. Sometimes I wonder if you just zone out, thinking about Dora this and Diego that, and then you’ll start singing the words to Sound of Silence – in key, of course.
And speaking of Dora and Diego – you LOVE LOVE LOVE those shows. I wasn’t all too happy about this (I much prefer Yo Gabba Gabba or Sesame Street) but then one day you turned to us at dinner time and counted to 10, IN SPANISH. Dad and I just sat there in stunned silence until you repeated it again, holding up your fingers as if to say – duh! – I was COUNTING, people – pay attention! You’ve also started watching Ni Hao Kai Lan, and who am I to stand in the way of you speaking English, Spanish AND Mandarin? We do still limit your TV-time but I’ve stopped complaining about your choices – if hearing that inane backpack over and over again helps you become multilingual, than so be it.
I enrolled you in a class at our local rec center this year, in an attempt for both of us to hopefully find friends. Luckily, it worked. You have now had a handful of successful play-dates with your new BFF and I have a fellow mom to commiserate with on the ups and downs of Life With a Toddler. I’m hoping that this continues because it’s made our new home feel more like, well – home.
Tonight I tucked you in and told you the story of your birth. 3 years ago today, you were handed to me and instantly turned my life upside down. As I gave you your final goodnight hug, I started to cry, and trying to hold it in, made a pathetic, whimpering sound. You gently patted my back and said, “Excuse you Momma. Excuse you.” Then you smiled that bewitching smile, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and asked if I could please leave the door open on my way out. I walked out of your room, where you lay, tucked in to your big-girl-bed (safety rail down and all) with your flashlight and books. As I sat down on the living room couch, I let the last 3 years wash over me, and I cried – something that I’m certain I’ll do again and will also, in the future, certainly embarrass you. But I promise that if you are privileged enough to have children of your own, you’ll understand and maybe even forgive me for that time I wept in front of your prom date, while taking a million holographic (because that’s totally the next new thing) pictures of my “birdie girl.”