Lori Lori is a work-at-home mom of three living in Noblesville, Indiana.

I cannot believe my daughter turns 3. We just celebrated my daughter’s third birthday. We had a terrific day opening presents from family, blowing out her birthday candles, attending swim lessons, and playing outside. She loved her cake with colorful balloons and recognized her name written in icing on the top.

On the outside, I held it together for her. On the inside, this day my daughter turns 3 rocked me to the core – more so than her other birthdays or my son’s birthdays have. While I’m a sentimental person through and through, this day was really different and I haven’t been able to put my finger on the reason why. I wanted to write this to take a moment to reflect on the first few years of her life. Parenthood has really changed me, but for the better.

I used to spend nights awake nursing my baby girl, basking in the night’s silence other than the sound of her quiet sucking, sometimes wishing just for a second that she could sleep through the night. You hear from strangers, “They’ll sleep through the night soon enough,” but “soon enough” didn’t seem soon enough. She didn’t stop waking at six months, or nine months – or even a year. The nights were short, and my sheer exhaustion was an understatement. Even when my daughter turns 3, will she ever sleep, I wondered?

My Daughter Turns 3

Alas she can now make it through the night by herself. While I can’t say I miss waking up with her, I can say that I look back at those exhausted nights and wonder how I did it — but I know I did it because of my love for her.

And then she was three.

In her earliest days, I rubbed her baby-fine, dark, soft-as-downy hair and wondered what she would look like once her hair grew out.  I hated when people would say she was almost bald or mistake her for a boy. That thin hair on her round head finally did grow out. Her hair is long, wavy and wild, and she loves it.  She says, “My hair is long and pretty – like yours mommy.”

And then she was three.

Wasn’t she just riding in the Baby Bjorn, needing me to carry her, enjoying hearing my heart beat and snuggling up against me? She evolved from the Bjorn to the stroller and then eventually, the shopping cart. Today we spent the afternoon together for her birthday. She requested we get her a Frozen balloon from the party store. We got there, and I heard the words “I want to walk right by you mommy. I’m a big girl.”

And then she was three.

Gone are the days when mommy was unable to leave the house to even grab the mail during her waking hours—she was a mama’s girl so no one else would do. Separation anxiety is very common among toddlers, but the days of crying and tantrums when I leave have slowly dissipated. As long as I tell her where I am going and when I will be back, she reassures me to go ahead and leave and waves bye-bye and blows me a kiss. She says, “It’s okay, mommy. I’ll see you soon. Love you. Bye.”

And then she was three.

My baby, just a few days old.

I used to wonder what she’d be like when she got older. I couldn’t imagine holding a conversation with her. Now I get to hear her excited voice each and every day telling me she had the best day ever. She tells me that she loves the beach and can’t wait to build sandcastles. She asks me if she can help me water the flowers and wonders, “Can we plant more and watch them grow?”

She tells me how much she loves me and that I’m the best mommy ever.

And then she was three.

Now that my daughter turns 3, gone are the days of a baby who smiles that big, dimpled grin, moves her arms up and down and reaches out to me to let me know that she is happy and wants me to hold her and hug her. Now are the days when she runs up to me and gives me a great big hug and kisses me with those freshly licked, puckered lips. She’s always bursting with excitement and has something she can’t wait to tell me.

And then she was three.

My daughter’s third birthday means another year of life we were able to spend together and another year to be thankful for. It means that much more laughter and that many more kisses. Instead of thinking about the time that has passed or sadly counting down the months until Kindergarten, I want to live in the moment. I want to really enjoy each and every day and not get caught up in the small stuff. After all, what you do today — those moments playing kickball in the backyard or drawing pictures that didn’t seem extra special at the time — will soon become beautiful memories.

After I read to my new three-year-old down and cuddled with her until she fell asleep tonight, I watched her in silence. I kissed her flawless cheeks. I smoothed back her soft, fine hair and I fought back some tears, too. And I realized how many memories we have yet to make and how much more fun is yet to come.

And then she was three.

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Category: Life Changes

Tags: 3 years old