Today you are 3 years old.
To start with, let me tell you that the last three years of my life have been more fulfilling and rewarding than I could have ever imagined and I owe that completely to you. They have, anecdotally, also been among the most challenging and very occasionally frustrating years of my life, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
We had a party for you at the house this afternoon, and it went really well. This year, we had our first 'real' kid's party, with only myself, your Mom, and your local set of Grandparents in attendance from the family. Everyone else was either a young friend of yours or their parent.
Your Mom did a great job of getting the party together. I helped, but only in the sense that I did what she told me to do. We had the yard mostly decorated with balloons and crepe paper, and had chairs and tables set up around the patches of new grass on our new yard. Among other things, one of the things we found out today was that we need to get a tractor in to level that yard, because at one point or another probably half the partiers fell out of their chairs on the uneven ground. Another thing we found out is that the new playground that your Granparents and I spent a Saturday afternoon working on a few weeks ago isn't quite as sturdy as we thought it was, as at one point with a pile of kids swinging and sliding on it, one of the supports came right out of the ground. We'll try to have that fixed for next year.
You seemed to have a really good time though, and it was great to get to see you interacting with a bunch of kids mostly your age. One of the things your Mom and I worry about is that it might be hard for you, not to have any other little people around to interact with, and that having only us around might be doing you some harm. Certainly not enough to convinve us that having another baby is a good idea, but enough to give us pause nonetheless. So it was wonderful to sit back and watch you running around playing, laughing, shoving, yelling with kids your age.
However, and I know I sound like a cliche here, but watching you today it was also bittersweet noticing that you are no longer an infant anymore, even though that description hasn't fit for a long time. Now, you really are a little girl.
I took a drive tonight, late in the middle of a night shift, mostly to clear my head and let the wind rush through the open window at me me in an effort to rouse me a bit. As I was driving, I passed a woman walking alone and somehow got thinking of you. I don't think I can describe her well, having just got a passing glimpse of her, other than to say she wasn't too tall, seemed thin, and looked to be 40ish. She seemed too old to be out doing whatever it is real young people do at 1 in the morning, and I got to thinking about what she was doing, where she was headed, where she was coming from. I suppose I interposed an older version of you onto her, and got to wondering what you'd be up to when you are her age. Would you be out like her, walking around late at night by yourself, maybe going back to an empty place? Would you live close enough by that if the mood or the need struck you that you could always come home, no matter what the circumstances were? Would you know that you would always be welcome? Would I still be around to be there for you to come back to?
I know, I get melodramatic sometimes. That is probably not news to you. I just feel so much more aware of the passage of time and your movement through it these days.Not so much mine or your Mom's, because having found each other I feel like we are held together in a bond that I hope to live the rest of my life inside of, and time is more or less relative inside it. But I am keenly aware that your stay with us is a transient thing, that you will one day go out on your own and live a life more or less independent of us, and as great a thing as getting to raise you is, it is a melancholy thing indeed to know that you won't be staying with us for the duration, not really.
But for now, you are still my little girl, growing up in increments notwithstanding, and I am looking forward to getting to see many more of your birthdays pass, and hoping that they are as much fun as today was.
I hope you know how much your Daddy loves you.
See you next month,