Oh, I can't hardly believe it. You're THREE! This is so cliche' to say, but it really does seem like you were just a baby yesterday. But you're not a baby, are you? Nope, as your growth and maturity and independence show me, you are less of a baby and more of a little girl every day.
Three years ago I strained to push you into this world, and now it's all I can do to grant you the freedom to explore all the curiosities this world has for you. Seeing how your little mind learns and grows as you figure out new things is a constant wonder to me. Watching you grasp and apply a new concept that you didn't know even ten minutes ago is simply amazing. Most recently, you've been going through a verbal explosion. You can certainly be quite chatty, but on our drive to and from town, I love hearing your stories about who you'll play with that day, who you did play with, songs you like to sing, what a certain tractor or truck is doing, or talking about the cows we just saw. Your mind is constantly at work and it's all I can do to keep up with you. Please know that even when I don't know the answers to all your questions, I always, always love you and so does Daddy.
According to the experts of such things, most children record and fix in their brain their first permanent memory between 2.5 and 3 years of age. That means in your head right now is something you'll never forget. My earliest memory is of my mother, your Grandma Cindy, righting me in a swimming pool after being pushed under by some older kids. I remember her holding me tightly and protectively and reprimanding the children who hurt me. I don't remember what happened to those kids or if I was allowed back in the pool, but I do remember feeling safe, knowing my Mommy would never let anything bad happen to me. What is your earliest memory Lana-girl? Is it dancing in the living room with me? Is it riding on your Daddy's shoulders? Is it tumbling down stairs? Is it splashing in the bath? Oh how I wish I could be the one to chose such things. I would cull all records of me getting frustrated in front of you and replace them with scenes of laughter and love. Wise words I once read said to tell you how much you're loved 10 times more than correct your behavior. Sadly, my ratios fall far short of that, but please know I'm trying. Every day, I'm trying.
This past weekend was a busy one for us, wasn't it? A big birthday party at the park with six of your cousins, your first pinata, and a Sunday full of playing to your heart's content. I'm so happy it was fun for you. One milestone I didn't realize would affect me so much occurred when I took you down to the church nursery for the last time. I am so very excited for you to join the bigger kids in their lessons and activities, but I know full well that you're not considered a baby anymore - not by me, not by anyone really - when you outgrow the nursery. I teared up a bit after dropping you off, but I'll try not to again. Instead I'll replace those feelings with ones of excitement for all that's ahead of you.
I have a secret to tell you, Lana Jean, and it may shock you. There was a time when I thought I didn't want kids. I looked around at parents I saw and I thought their lives were dull, boring, and lacked spark and excitement. Their days appeared to be full of cleaning up messes, dealing with crying and whining, and yearning for all the adventure they left behind in their pre-child days. Ha! little did I know, right? You have been the biggest adventure I could ever embark upon. Your snuggles and sweet kisses fill my heart more than any Broadway show, designer handbag, or Florida beach ever could. Instead of stamps in the passport I longed to fill, I have hours upon hours of story time, tower building, tummy tickles, and singing silly songs.
As with most things, another has already said it better than I ever could:
“You are the trip I did not take;
You are the pearls I cannot buy;
You are my blue Italian lake;
You are my piece of foreign sky.”