Happy birthday, my girl. Today, you’re three.
You’re also sick. Like, 103°-fever sick. We had planned for weeks to take you to the zoo today to celebrate your arrival to the World of Three, but instead we’re going to take you to the doctor. We’re also pretending that I’m staying home from work because you’re not feeling well, not because I requested the day off weeks ago to celebrate your birthday.
I suppose three is as good an age as any for you to learn about disappointment. Sometimes you plan for weeks to go see elephants, giraffes, and (most excitedly) Komodo dragons on your birthday, but end up going to the doctor and being bound to the couch. I know it’s not fun. I mean, seriously, you don’t even have an appetite for the Peppa Pig cake we had at your birthday party over the weekend. Un-freaking-fair.
There are moments when I wish I could shield you from all the world’s unpleasantness – and trust me, there’s a lot of it – but I have to remind myself that it’s to your benefit to let you learn to cope on your own.
Take, for instance, last week. Right now, you go to parents’ day out once a week, and last week, drop off was hard. Right as I was about to leave you, you fell apart. You begged me to take you home or to stay or to call Daddy. I would have stayed with you all day long, holding you in my arms, but I knew (or, if we’re being honest, your teacher who gently asked me to go, knew) that I wasn’t doing you any favors by keeping you in your comfort zone.
I left. You screamed. But then this amazing thing happened.
You got over it.
The same thing happened yesterday when I gave you your dreaded medicine to bring down your fever. You screamed bloody murder as I administered the dosage; I even had to restrain your arms. But I’m nothing if not determined and I eventually got you to take it. Your fever went down.
And, you guessed it: you got over it.
I’m not saying that you’ll learn to just shrug off every single hard thing that will happen to you. By the time you’re actually old enough to read this letter, you’ll likely be well-aware of the fact that I myself am easily jarred by confrontation and that I wish I were more confident in myself. I wish I were as confident as Taylor Swift appears to be. (Yes, Taylor Swift is a major thing right now. I thought I would toss in a small reference to current pop culture in this letter in case you hadn’t rolled your eyes enough yet.)
While you may not feel like Taylor Swift or ( insert current pop culture icon here ) all the time, I promise that it’s worth it to be sick on your birthday, to be left at school, and to take medicine that you don’t want. These are the things that make you stronger and that will help you find out who you are when things get seriously difficult.
Cee, I know for a fact that you get sick of me saying it, but I’m going to say it again: I love you and I’m so incredibly proud of the little girl you’re becoming. Thank you for being the person who made me a mom. Trust me, you’re teaching me as much as I’m teaching you.
But here’s a secret: when life is hard, you get to eat ice cream and binge-watch cartoons for a little while, all while building character.
See you on the couch.
I love you,