When I was pregnant with my son (my second child) fellow moms of more than one child assured me that I would love both of my children. Though I couldn’t believe I’d ever love any little human as much as I loved my daughter, they promised me my heart would grow.
And, of course, they were right. I love both my children to the moon and back. My heart expands to bursting daily.
Oh yes. There is a “but…” coming.
But… this isn’t exactly what I had expected.
I had expected that my son would have an uphill climb into my heart. I knew I would love him. But I loved my girl with every inch of my being. I was sure it would take time to bond with him. To love him like I loved her.
It didn’t. I fell head over heels for his big baby eyes and sweet cherub face immediately. I savored every moment with him – even the way-late-at-night or way-early-in-the-morning ones. I appreciated every baby bit.
And, while there was more than enough room in my heart, there were not more than enough hours in each day. Consumed with baby love, I found that I stopped appreciating my girl and the special three-ness with which she can’t help but sparkle (and sometimes spark). I began to see three as a troublesome age. Well beyond anything I experienced with the so-called “terrible twos.” The tantrums, the whining, the list goes on and on. That her behavior likely resulted more from the shock of her world turned upside down than her age alone was a concept I grasped but seemed incapable of holding onto.
She is nearly halfway through being three and I’ve appreciated nary a day of this phase.
It’s not fair. To her. To me.
A few weeks ago, I took her to the grocery store. Just the two of us. It was a busy Sunday afternoon. The store was full of people doing their weekly grocery shopping, buying the fixings for Sunday might dinner. I lifted her into the seat of the shopping cart, and she sat down willingly. I handed her a tablet of paper and a pen, pulled out my list, and off we went. We chatted. We reviewed our lists and checked things off as we rolled. She kept track of the things we bought. We sang along with the cheesy grocery store music. We sang songs of our own.
It was delightful. It was fun. It was something I could not have done with the baby. Won’t be able to do with him for quite some time.
It was a uniquely “three” moment. A year ago, she’d have been too small. Too young to engage in the banter and the singing. A year from now…well, I’m willing to bet she won’t be willing to sit in that shopping cart seat.
It helped me to remember that three is fun. Three is special.
Way back when my girl was an infant, a fellow new-mom imparted wise words that I’ve never forgotten. “The best baby phase is the one you’re in,” she told me. There is much to love about each phase of our children’s lives. Looking ahead to when they can do so much more or back to when they were all smiles and coos is fun, but should not be done to the point of distraction.
Since that day at the grocery store, I’ve been appreciating three. And so far, three seems to be appreciating me too.