To my strong, cheeky, loving, wild-as-the-wind little girl.
It’s your third birthday this weekend. Of course you know that already because you’ve talked about nothing else for the past two months. Literally nothing else. Nothing….
While you’re busy devouring presents and Peppa Pig cupcakes on the day, I’ll be reflecting the last three years, or 36 months, or 1,095 days since you were unceremoniously yanked from the womb and into this world with a big vacuum cleaner and a shiny pair of forceps. Somewhat unusually, my most vivid memory of your first day was that the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody was playing in the operating theatre. For some reason this stuck in my memory and the Righteous Brothers will forever remind me of that day. Your day.
As I stood there on your day in my scrubs, looking all George Clooney in his ER days, counting your toes and cutting your umbilical cord with an expertise that belied my lack of medical training, I was overwhelmed with the deepest sense of satisfaction. Satisfaction that you had completed our little family. The final piece of our crazy little puzzle.
In the lead up to your arrival I spent many a sleepless night wondering how I could possibly ever love another child as much as I love your older brother. I was (somewhat ridiculously) worried that by giving my entire heart to him, that there would be nothing left for you. Of course now I know that as the family grows, so does the parent’s capacity to love. And I’m just pissed that I lost so much sleep worrying about it.
Speaking of losing sleep. You’re three bloody years old now, and you’ve only slept through the night a handful of times. Isn’t it about time you sorted that out? Your mum and I are tired. So very, very tired. As much as I will one day cherish all of the nights that I spent with you in your bed with your little face jammed up against mine and your tiny hands squeezing my windpipe as you slept, for now I just want you to bloody well sleep all night. On your own. As much as begging is usually beneath me, I’m begging you now. Please please please will you get your shit together?
While I’m on the topic of shit, isn’t it about time you sorted out your toilet training? You started with such enthusiasm, but went off the boil in a big way to the point that yesterday we went through four pairs of shorts in a single day. Four pairs!! You know I don’t much enjoy doing laundry as it is. You’re a smart kid – I’ve seen you unlock and operate the iPad on plenty of occasions. You can do this.
Now that you’re officially out of the ‘terrible twos’ I’d like to see you make more of an effort to stop beating up your big brother. He’s a gentle soul and has copped all that you’ve thrown at him with good grace and minimal retaliation. So next time you’re about to swipe him across the face with your little razor claws, remember that when you’re sixteen, it will most likely be him that comes and drags you out of a nightclub at 4am, drunk as a skunk, and sneaks you home without your mum or I finding out.
Other than these three very minor character adjustments, I’d like for you to remain exactly as you are. Delightfully happy. Fiercely determined. More than a little bit crazy with a wild sparkle in your eye. A tough, street urchin exterior with a gentle and compassionate heart.
One day you will be a strong and independent woman. You should know that there will be people out there – male and female – who won’t like that about you and will try to change you. Don’t let them. These people are weak and have nothing to offer you. Cast them aside the same way you currently cast aside your vegetables. Or the popcorn that is 3 inches deep on the floor in my car. Refuse to allow them into your life the same way that you currently refuse to get your hair brushed. Or wear a pretty dress. Or poo on the toilet. Or go to bed. Or wear your seatbelt on airplanes. Or any of the thousand other things that you refuse to do on a daily basis.
While I’m busy dropping little pearls of wisdom the same way that you like to drop bits of lego on the stairs, always remember that it’s more important to be strong and healthy in body and mind than it is to be beautiful. If you stay strong and healthy, the beautiful will take care of itself. Not that I think beauty is ever something that you’re going to have to worry too much about with those eyes of yours. And that face. And that smile. And…..well…..you get the idea.
Of course knowledge is a two way street, and you can rest assured that you’ve taught me a great deal over the past 3 years as well. In particular, the last 12 months that I’ve spent as the at-home parent. You’ve taught me practical things, like how to get crayon off white leather furniture, or that mixing panadol and milk causes a curdling / vomiting effect. You’ve shown me that I can function on little to no sleep for several days at a time, and not melt into a complete blithering mess. You’ve shown me that pants truly can be optional. You’ve made me into a world class mac n’ cheese chef and pigtail stylist.
You’ve also taught me the art of patience. Something I was never very good at until you came along. The old me would never have tolerated spending 20 minutes trying to select exactly the right lipgloss for you from the chemist, only for you to wind the stick right out and snap it off within seconds of leaving the shop. The old me would’ve spontaneously combusted at your insistence that you climb in the car from the opposite side from where your car seat is, and the extra 10 minutes it adds to EVERY car journey. The old me would’ve pulled my hair out at the number of times you can change your mind about what you want for breakfast in a single morning. The old me would’ve thrown himself from a bridge after hearing “I soo hungy” repeated at 3 second intervals less than 5 minutes after you refused to eat the sandwich he so lovingly made for you. But not this guy. Although I still cry on the inside a little from time to time, my tolerance has improved so much, and it’s all because of beautiful you.
There are so many things that I wish and hope for you in this life, but above all else I hope that you’ll never lose your spark. That you’ll always remain as feisty, determined, and fun loving as you are today. That you’ll forever stay as wild as the wind. In the meantime, I’ll also hope and pray for the strength to endure your crazy ways until you’re old enough to be someone else’s problem.
So this weekend on your birthday, as you rip open your one hundred gazillion presents with complete abandon and blow out the 3 candles on your poorly but lovingly assembled cake, please know that I love you more fiercely than the fiercest of fierce things. Your cheeky smile lights up my life. The feeling of your little arms around my neck brings me the greatest of joys. Your kisses, although a little on the sloppy side, are truly treasured. I just can’t wait to watch you stride forward in this world, grab life by the neck (in the same way that you grab your brother sometimes), and live fearlessly and wholeheartedly. At the same time, I really hope that you’ll stay just as you are for a little bit longer yet, because I haven’t yet had enough of those sloppy kisses.
Love Dadda xx