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When Your Baby Turns Four

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Birthday Girl

Unwrapping

Yesterday was my youngest’s fourth birthday.* She is my baby in the sense that she is at the end of the family, but I don’t tend to think of her that way because they are all my babies. But yesterday I felt the sting that my “baby” is growing up.

Summer at our house is birthday season. I’m already thinking about my husband’s birthday next week and our five-year old’s the following. Not to mention we’ll have our oldest entering the teen years a few weeks after that. So birthdays can feel like a bit of a whirlwind that I just need to get through so I can start planning the next.

In the midst of the Ariel pool party and many rounds of the Happy Birthday chorus, I realized that we are leaving an era at our house. The birthday girl potty trained this year, has learned to scribble out her name and will start preschool next month. That tail end of our family is moving on up and I’m a little sad.

I don’t want to be the mom who is forever telling her children not to grow up, and yet I find myself telling them over and over. Sometimes out loud, but usually in my head. I want to cherish the memories I have, fully enjoy this season we’re in and look forward to what is ahead. Writing that out sounds a little like a tall order. So, how do I embrace the growing up?

Well partly I’m writing a book about it.* That helps me process. I think as I write and I know I want to give this stage my full attention because tomorrow will likely be different than today.

I’m kissing her as much as I can. Taking pictures that I swear will one day go in some kind of book to thumb through. I am praying for her next steps and telling her over and over how much I love her. Because again tomorrow will likely look different than today, and if that different is drastic, I want her always to know.*

So here’s to all of our babies growing up.* I raise my iced coffee today and toast us moms who watch our children grow big and try our best to do it with courage. May we tell them over and over how much we love them so it sinks deep into their big kid hearts.

*Footnote: It was actually the day after her birthday, but when you are the fourth, your mom forgets things like birthdates and schedules doctor’s appointments and speaking engagements on your actual birthday. And then when she goes to schedule your party she chooses the next day and calls it good.

*Footnote Number Two: For inquiring minds, the book is titled Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What’s Right in Front of Me and will be releasing right around Mother’s Day.

*Footnote Number Three: Not to be morbid here, but I’ve had too many friends go through tragedy that I know this is a real possibility though my heart aches to think of one of us being gone.

*Footnote Number Four: There is a hashtag going around today #unplannedparenthood, a place to write encouragement about those unplanned pregnancies. I’ve made it public (as in wrote about it in my first book) that this now four-year old was not part of my plan. But oh how she is. My life is so much richer because of this girl who has stolen all of our hearts. In fact I wrote about it here when she turned two. I guess her birthdays get me sentimental, no matter her age. I know she was a surprise to us and not a surprise to God. So grateful for the #unplannedparenthood in my own life.

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