Tomorrow our beloved Bean turns 4.
The transition to big kid is almost complete.
Gone are even the slightest physical remnants of toddlerhood. No more dimpled fingers, no more chubby cheeks, no more cautious steps.
Seemingly overnight, Bean broke free from her chrysalis and emerged with longer limbs, wiser eyes, and a steely determination to conquer the world.
It’s been a year of lengthening strides, blossoming independence, and growing pains. Not just for Bean.
Because, as much as my heart soars and swells with each new milestone and victory, it simultaneously shatters into a million tiny pieces.
I’m learning that every rite of passage is one step closer to the day I can’t solve her problems with a kiss and a sparkly band-aid.
Far too soon, I won’t be able to shield her from heartache or tragedy.
Eventually I will have to let go.
And it all just goes by so damn fast.
Time Marches On
I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around the passage of another year. In many ways, it’s been a complete blur.
This time last year I’d just returned to work after my maternity leave with Monkey. The transition to a family of four was kicking my ass up and down the street.
I was tired. Cranky. Impatient. At my wits end cleaning spit-up at all hours of the day and night.
As I was dragging my sleep-deprived body from one day to the next, Bean was growing up.
I wouldn’t say I missed it. I just wish I’d paid more attention, slowed down, really listened.
I cringe to think of the times I lost my temper with her. Raising my voice & losing my cool over some minor transgression, that looking back now, I can’t even remember.
You see, I have high expectations for my girls. I truly believe they can do and be anything. I never want them to settle.
So sometimes I push. Or overreact. Or both.
Thankfully Bean is wise beyond her years. She has a way of steering me back on course with a hug, a giggle, or three simple words spoken with absolute sincerity.
Her Mother’s Daughter
On the eve of four, Bean is already better and stronger than me in countless ways. But there are so many times I look at her and see myself looking back.
Competitive and Determined
Mommy, I beat you up the stairs.
Is it wrong of me to want to reply, ‘I wasn’t trying!’?
Even better? Her father waiting at the top of the stairs to give her a high five.
Yes, she comes by it naturally.
Sensitive and Devastated by Criticism
This is the kid who exhibits saintly behavior at preschool because the mere thought of reprimand terrifies her. The tears are falling before punishment is even declared.
She’s harder on herself than anyone else will ever be.
That doesn’t mean she hasn’t started to push the boundaries at home. Sassy retorts are followed by fiery indignation as she stomps her way to her room.
Shy and Cautious, but Ultimately Confident and Poised
In new situations, Bean’s independent nature is tempered by shy reliance. Her bubbly confidence retreats momentarily while she assesses the situation.
As soon as she realizes there’s nothing to fear, you best step aside! In this regard, Bean is light years ahead of me.
Looking back, from little to big, tangible to intangible, it’s been an extraordinary year.
A is for Amazing
From scribbles and slashes of paint to the most adorable stick people, flowers, and jellyfish you’ve ever seen, her artwork is a window into a vivid imagination.
Her favorite thing to do is practice her writing. Perched on a stool in the kitchen, she asks me to spell a laundry list of words, while she carefully transcribes each one in handwriting that puts fourth graders to shame.
B is for Best Friend
She’s blossomed in her role as big sister. When you’ve been the center of attention your whole life, making room for a little sister is a lot to ask.
Being bossy comes naturally to big sisters. I should know! But while Bean can be obnoxiously righteous and downright authoritarian at times, she’s also fiercely protective and amazingly patient with her sister.
Monkey will go through life with the most incredible ally and best friend by her side.
C is for Character
And those long limbs, gracefully propelling her down the track? It’s a sight to behold, and I’ll always cherish running by her side for those first races.
It’s not about the ribbons or the records. It’s about the character and strength that shine like a beacon, lighting up her determined little face.
Yes, it’s been quite a year!
When Bean blows out her candles tomorrow, I’m going to close my eyes and make my own wish.
I’ll wish for the power and strength to ensure Bean’s sparkle never diminishes but only grows brighter at 4, 14, 40, and every age between and beyond.
Happy Birthday Bean!