Last night, I said goodbye to my Three Year Old for the very last time.
As I said Good Night to Tot last night, and told her that when she woke up she would be FOUR I sat there and almost cried. A year ago last night she was two. She still had that roundness of toddlers and babies, a distinctly chubby face. She still wore diapers and was in a tiny toddler bed that still looked crib-like. She couldn't spell her name, or ride a bike. She couldn't say all her ABC's clearly and she couldn't count past ten. She still woke up all the time during the night, and she cried until I came and got her.
But not now.
Now, my tiny baby is FOUR. You can not look at her and call her a baby or a toddler. She is a kid. Now she can not only say her ABC's and count to ten, she can say entire bible verses right and left and write her name and other words.
She has run past so many milestones this year that it makes me dizzy. There are so many things that are just done now. I can always teach her more, but some things are just over. She's potty trained, she's in a twin bed, she sleeps through the night. She feeds herself and she can tell me exactly what she does and does not want.
As I left her room, I went to Dave and sat on the bed and just started talking and talking about how incredible it was that we had a FOUR year old. Five years ago we weren't planning on having kids until at least 2006. And here we sit with a FOUR year old and a two year old, and wondering if maybe we want more. Five years ago, Tot wasn't even a thought crossing my mind, and today I can not picture my life without her in it, without my daily thoughts revolving around her.
Inevitably, I started to think about the day she was born, and how exciting it was. I wasn't scared, I wasn't worried, I was just so very excited. There were so many things to do, so many things to experience. I couldn't wait to nurse, to bathe her, to rock her to sleep. I looked at all the little baby things and just about burst I was so happy.
And then, at 7:12pm on September 15th, Taylor Dawn Chapman arrived. Within hours, we were calling her Taylor-Tot, and within days she was The Tot. She was herself from the moment we met.
In the midst of all the remembering, I pulled out Tot's baby book and Dave and I flipped through it, laughing at the pictures of me pregnant, of her birth announcement, and of her first Christmas and other firsts. We looked in the back at the "After The First Year" section, and I reread the pages we had entered on her First Birthday, her Second birthday, and her Third Birthday and smiled at all the changes that had happened. As I flipped the page to enter her Fourth Birthday information, my breath stuck in my throat.
There was no Fourth Birthday page. The Baby Book was over.
I sat there and cried. And cried and cried and cried, because no matter how much I wanted it to be otherwise, the printed proof was right there in front of me. Those precious baby and toddler years that I adored, were over. Over so fast. Over before I could blink. And no matter how thrilled I am with my Tot, no matter how much fun I have with my big girl doing things that only big girls can do, there is a part of me that grieves the loss of my baby Tot time. That can not believe all that is over. That desperately wants to go back and relive it all over again, just to soak it all up even more. That wants, just once more, to be rocking my little newborn baby, nursing her in the middle of the night and wondering how on earth I could love someone so very much.
But no matter, my Four Year Old Tot is tugging at my sleeve asking for me to make her some Oatmeal and if she can have cake and maybe go ride her new bike after breakfast. And that means it's time to shake off the mood and go have a fabulous Happy Birthday with my Tot and soak all of this kid time up as much as I can before I blink and she's a teenager.
Happy Birthday, Tot. Mommy loves you.