A Letter to my daughter on her 3rd birthday

IMG_0594My Khaya,

Today you turned three. True to all the clichés, I can hardly believe it. The days so often feel never-ending, yet the years pass in a blink. As previously, there is nothing I can say here that has not been said before. Particularly since I am exhausted and generally pudding-brained these days. But I am going to say it anyways because I need you to know that it is true.

You have engulfed my heart. Inflated it like a balloon. Right this moment I am thinking about how much I love you and can feel it swelling in my chest and emotion pulsing through my veins all the way into my fingers.  I was overwhelmed with love for you from the moment you took your first breath. Yet, amazingly, it continues to grow. I look back on that day now and see it was only the tip of an iceberg. Perhaps because you are the lead character in 3 years worth of my very best memories. Certainly because watching you grow from a little wee nugget into the marvel you are today has been the greatest, most fulfilling, most enlightening journey and the very, very best thing I have seen.

IMG_5871Even if you do nothing else in your entire life, know that you have completely transformed me. I mean no disrespect to the other loves in my life, but there is no other like the one you gave rise to when you came into our lives. At the crudest level, I understand why evolution is based on an intuition to procreate. You were a secret key to a giant love reserved just for you. There is no other one like this and and I cannot thank you enough for bringing it to life in me.

IMG_3447I love you for exactly who you are. This does not mean that 2 was easy – it was not. Adding your baby brother to the mix has stretched me in ways I did not see coming. Everyday has involved tears; often mine. I have threatened to give you away several times and I question my parenting skills incessantly. Know that, as long as you will know me, I will say many angry and frustrated things. But I do not mean them. Frustration is a true emotion and it often wins the moment, but it always fades away and never wins the day. I promise to show you the same grace.

I was a terror back in my day. You may look exactly like your Father, but you are your Mother’s daughter.  Nowadays, though, we highlight the positives. You “know what you want”. You are “determined”, “tenacious” and “a strong leader”. Just today you were “a highly-resourceful go-getter” when you scaled the kitchen drawers, grabbed a spatula and used it to fish a piece of forbidden candy from the top shelf despite 3 adults telling you not to. Right this moment you are sitting across the room honing your scissor skills on a book despite the fact that you are far too young to be using them. Telling you not to is a point-blank invitation for war involving a sharp object.

IMG_8781You can and will do whatever you want in this world. We will continue to do our best to ensure you are a brave and principled little girl with a heart for making the world a better place. I remain terrified of how to nurture and steward you in all the right ways and am scared of all the mistakes we may be making along way. Know that we are doing our best and that no matter what, it is always with love.

You are indeed a handful, but you are kind and you are brave. You embrace every day and are not afraid to take chances. You hurt when others hurt and while you may sit at the top of the slide and force 4 other kids to wait, simply because you can, you are the first to run over and check when one of them falls. You share well, have a generous heart and have welcomed your baby brother to life with great love. You arrive with love to give, provide hugs to anybody who needs one, a smile to light up the sky and you are the very best cuddler under the sun.

IMG_7099We moved to Spain for the year. My heart was heavy at times because we stripped you of a true sense of community or routine and thrust you instead into all new environments. But you adapted like a true champion. You excelled in your Spanish school, got several of the teachers wrapped around your little fingers and learned more Spanish than both of your parents. You started swim lessons in tears and ended being able to swim unassisted and with a huge grin on your face. You potty-trained in a day (but still refuse to give up your dummy) and your report cards were great.

SONY DSCWatching your Dad love and grow through you remains the greatest gift of my life. I take him for granted far too often and I hope you never learn that from me. You are blessed with a truly remarkable Dad who loves without fear and gives without expectation. Please see him for the incredible person he is and know his love for you is true, even if I forget to do the same sometimes.

Your extended family loves you fiercely as well. Your grannies and grampas, aunties, uncles and cousins (by blood and otherwise) continue to shower you with special kinds of love. Please keep them in the inner circle of your heart and let your understanding of family grow, never shrink. There is no limit to the amount of love you can give.

IMG_0884I am already paralyzing myself with nostalgia and bracing myself for how fast time will continue to go by. I cannot get enough of you. But three years of this journey with you has also taught me to look forward to whatever moments and miracles come next. I have no doubt you will continue to stretch us in every way but look forward to learning and loving even more of you and am in awe that there is even more love to be found in me.

Thank you once again for every little bit of you. You set my heart on fire, little girl. You make this world a warmer and brighter place everyday.

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