Your fours are nearly over; you are barreling towards five and I want to capture this moment, freeze it in time, bottle its essence, remember every precious moment of it. Because parenting you, darling, just keeps getting better and better.
We made it, somehow, through your first sleepless year. The next year was fun and silly as you grew into your toddlerhood. Two was downright amazing and your threes were even better. And then four, filled with your chatter and thoughts and big ideas and even bigger questions - God, death, marriage, more, you ask about all of it and I can barely keep up. I love getting to know more of who you are with each passing year. You are incredible.
Sometimes I miss the days when you were cradled in my womb. You were so safe there, and somehow so completely mine in a way that you haven't been since. Now I share you with the world, but more than that, you are your own person, wholly unique and not truly mine at all. Your choices, your life, it's all yours. I am merely the one blessed with the privilege of watching you become alive in this world, awake to all of its glorious God-created wonders. And in doing so, you have made me more alive as well.
Last week I watched you sitting with your little brother, each of you leaning his head against the other while you flipped through the pages of a book together. You were teaching him "big" and "little" and he was completely absorbed until he fell backwards in a fit of giggles about something you had said. Nearly every day I find myself with tears in my eyes over something you've said or done for your little brother. You are so incredibly sweet and kind and protective and simply wonderful. I can't wait to see your relationship unfold with your next little sibling.
Your sweetness melts my heart every day. Just tonight, after our nightly snuggle, you told me you wanted to buy me something special. You suggested a diamond necklace (how do you even know about diamond necklaces?), a nice new watch, or whatever surprise I wanted. I told you that all I wanted was to spend time with you and your brother, but you were insistent that whenever I decided what I wanted, you would go out to buy me my special surprise. You, my darling, will make a wonderful husband someday. Like when you're 30. Or 40. I'm not sure I can let you go any sooner than that.
Ah, if only. No, I know that just as you were born your own person nearly five years ago, being your mother is simply the long process of stepping back and watching you emerge as I slowly let go. But oh, darling, that doesn't mean it's always easy; in fact, sometimes watching you grow up is absolutely terrifying.
Already you are becoming increasingly independent. You often get your own breakfast, and your brother's too. You wash the tables and counters, bring in the clean laundry, help me around the house, most of it without my asking at all. I haven't vacuumed in weeks because you've taken that on as your own job; you are not as obsessively thorough as I am, but learning to let it go is just one of the many many lessons you've taught me over the years. So what if our guests see various bits of detritus around the edges of the carpet? I have a feeling they'll continue to love us anyway.
And you, my dear, I will love forever and longer, with every bit of my heart. No matter what.