Four always takes my breath away a little bit. Maybe it's because I realize that we have, at long last, made it out of Three, but I think it's more than that. I think it's because, at Four, you suddenly seem like a Little Kid. No longer a baby, no longer a toddler, no longer a Let's-Just-Get-Through-This-Year Threenager, you are a Kid.
You go to school. You have friends. You have activities. You have conversations. You have Big Feelings that you are able to talk about, rather than just demonstrate--loudly and at inappropriate times and places. You are so intentionally funny. You are so capable. You are so independent. You are so....YOU.
And you, Molly, are something else.
This has been such a big year for you. You started school (confidently and without a second glance at your dear old ma, who only birthed you, child, no really, it's fine).
And you LOVE it. You love your teachers and classmates, you love the projects and activities, and you LOVE the learning. The other day, as we sat down for lunch, you said, "Mommy, listen to this: HI-BER-NATE." "Wow!" I gushed, "That's a big word for a little kid!" "I know it, Mommy. My teacher told me it and it means when aminals sleep in the wintertime in their cozy, cozy homes." You know the word 'hibernate' yet you still call them 'aminals.' This is the magic of nearly-four.
...but it wasn't long before you were in your element.
Not always...you're quick to curl up into me when your brothers pretend to be ferocious animals stalking you, the tiny kitty...but you amaze me with your fearlessness that comes out when it counts.
You can turn on lights all by yourself, with nothing to stand on but your tiptoes.
You can get dressed all by yourself, with strong opinions about fashion and accessories.
You can color inside the lines and follow the instruction manuals to put Lego sets together.
You can climb to the very top of any playground structure and run fast enough to keep up with the neighborhood kids in our backyard.
You know your numbers and your letters and shapes and how to write and draw all of them.
You are a puzzle wizard.
Although you still say "ew" instead of "you" and, instead of "paper towels" you call them "wiper towels," your language and speech are blooming. You pronounce beginning S-sounds properly now (sssssnow instead of 'no), which always makes you ssssstop and sssssay, "Ssssssseeeee, Mommy? I can ssssssay it!"
But it's not just what you can do. It's who you are. It's how you choose to present yourself...it's your personality that is now, at four, self-confidently, beautifully shining through.
You are a gem, my dear.
As we walked through Costco the other day, you walked beside me, holding my hand and humming an invented tune. Every once in awhile you would stop to point to something wild and wonderful on display, "Look, Mommy! That floatie is so big it would never even fit in a pool! You would need an ocean pool and a truck so big to bring it home!" Then you would pick up where you had left off in your song. I wandered down the restaurant supply aisle and that random side aisle with picture frames, mattresses, and car mats just to hear your little, tiny voice, happily humming along. It was just you, me, and the music in your mind.
You hug with your arms wrapped tightly.
You place your hands on either side of my face and stare right into my eyes.
You are free with your Thank You's and your I Love You's.
You are a lover, with a heart so big and wide open that everyone and every furry thing is allowed in. You have said that when you grow up you would like to be a veterinarian. I can so see it.
You. Are. A Goofball.
We had just finished reading the bedtime book the other night and, as I reached to turn off the lamp, you stopped me. "Mommy, I need to tell you somefing," you began, your voice already shaky. "In school one time I was raising my hand and somebody told me to put my hand down in not a nice way." I asked you if it was one of your classmates and you nodded, burying your face in my shoulder. "But he's not the boss of me and I'm allowed to raise my hand." "Well, what did you do about it?" I asked, curious to know how she handled this new peer-dynamic. "I just didn't look at him and I kept my hand up and he thought I didn't hear him." "What happened next?" I prodded, smiling slightly at the idea of my daughter deliberately ignoring this little boy. "My teacher said, 'Molly, what do you want to say?' and I told her." "So, you did get a turn to talk. It sounds like you handled it well." "Yes, I already know that, Mommy, but I'm the boss of me. And sometimes you are. But no other kids are." You're right. And I hope you always know that; that you're the boss of you (and that sometimes I am, too).
You want so badly to keep up with your big brothers. You want to play what they're playing. You want to be where they are. You want to do what they're doing. You asked for Homework the other day as they sat down to do theirs, just to be near them.
(And thankfully, they nearly always allow it. Those brothers of yours? Oh, they love you good.)
But you still love being the Baby.
There is no doubt about it. You were born to be the baby of our family. You are the perfect bookend to our family, sweet Molly. You complete and unite us in a way that only you can, complementing each of your brothers beautifully and filling your daddy's and my heart. I am so proud of the little girl you are and so excited to see what will come next for you.
Happy, happy birthday to you, my love.
When I was pregnant with Molly, I wasn't sure that she would be our last baby, but I knew she may be. I had the forethought to act as though she might be...to treat my pregnancy with her as if it were my last. I lived so presently during that time that I can still recall specific feelings and thoughts and emotions as if I were pregnant today. My other pregnancies, though magical in hindsight, are not so vivid in my consciousness.
I feel as though I'm experiencing Molly's whole life with the same presence of mind. I'm noticing so much more....adorable mispronunciations, mini-milestones, evidence of emotional and intellectual growth...these moments make an impact. Not that they didn't with the boys, but they last in my memory in a different way. Maybe it's because I know that this is it: This is the last time I will mother a child so young, and it's going by so fast. Maybe it's because I'm not as distracted as I was when her brothers were this age...no toddler to keep up with, no pregnancy to take my mind and body away from her. Maybe it's because I'm finally sleeping through most nights (with her curled up against me, but still...progress).
I'm such a lucky mom.