Tonight was…rough. It’s been a crazy few months with a big move, lots of change, long summer days and late sunsets. Your little mind is always thinking, always imagining, and your little mouth is always talking. Always. Last night in particular was a loooong, laaaate one, and since you rarely nap anymore, you were a bit crazed by bedtime. You rubbed your feet on Daddy even after he asked you to stop, then called him “bad” and “scary” and refused to apologize. You took a turn in time out, then landed in your crib, where you sobbed while I tried to get Cricket to sleep. You sobs turned into screams, then begging, then desperate pleas for me. I gave in. I came into your room and climbed into your crib. It’s a small secret you and I have formed lately, this crawling into your crib. I ordered your big girl bed a few weeks ago, and it will be here soon. I have this panicked sense of losing your childhood too quickly now that your crib will soon be gone, and so a week or two ago, when you begged for me to snuggle you at bedtime, I decided to oblige. I hoisted my weary leg over that side rail and laid down next to you, and we both grinned in silence. It was like we knew we were being bad, but it didn’t matter as long as no one knew but us. I talked with you that night; you told me stories about princesses and bunnies; I told you that you were smart and brave and beautiful. I said that I loved you, and you said you loved me too. Then, in an instant you were asleep, mid-conversation, and I was both sad and happy at the same time. Tonight it was the same. I sang camp songs and lullabies to you as you listened intently. In silence you pulled your quilt over our heads and our secret snuggling became truly clandestine. You put your face right up against mine, brushed the hair out of my eyes and sighed. It was a long evening, but well worth it to be close to you.
I can’t believe it’s been three years that you’ve been with us, Emma Vance. You are the light of our lives, including Cricket’s. You are insanely smart and love to learn. You talk constantly, and your imagination is growing every day. I love when you surprise me with a thought or a story that I didn’t realize you had the capacity for, like the other day when you told me that we lived in Alpharetta, or that my name was “Talie.” You love to recount stories to me, and sometimes I have no idea where they came from because they seem illogical, but then I’ll have these incredible moments of clarity when I realize where your ideas originated from, and I’m amazed at your retention; you are such a sponge!
E.V., you are so indescribably loving and kind, it warms my heart to think about it. You never have a problem sharing (thankfully), are always eager to hug your friends and talk to strangers, and you feel so intensely for a three-year old. You feel sad and upset and excited and happy all at the exact right moments in life, and the most amazing part is that you’re so good at expressing how you feel and why. (I never thought a toddler could do that!) You are slow to anger and quick to apologize, and your love for others is, well, inspiring. It’s a true picture of a child-like faith.
There isn’t a little girl out there who is funnier or sunnier than you, E.V. You love everything girly right now: princesses (to the nth degree), art, animals, fairies, dress-up, dancing, singing, glitter, lollipops, sprinkles, makeup, pink and purple, babies. The other day I asked what your favorite animal was and you responded, “Unicorns because they’re sparkly.” Duh. You are OBSESSED with “princess play doh” (it’s a You Tube thing) and love toys in blind bags (and Kinder Eggs). (You are all about surprises and anticipation right now!) You love to swim and go on walks and be outside; you are constantly hunting bugs and chasing after birds. When your daddy drives you anywhere these days, he’s sure to make a detour to go past the duck pond near our house so that you can see them from your window. You and your dad have such a special bond, and despite moments like tonight, the two of you are the best of friends. You are a total Daddy’s Girl.
Speaking of best friends, you and Cricket could not be more in love with one another (except for maybe when she pulls your hair, haha!). God paid extra attention when he formed our family with the two of you in mind, and I’m so happy that you guys adore each other as much as you do. You are so kind to your little sister, and she already idolizes you. If E.V. does it, so does Cricket, which is adorable. As you grow, I pray that you’ll see this admiration with a sense of responsibility and be a good example for her. I also pray that the two of you remain close throughout your lives; you need each other, and I need you to know that.
This past year has flown by, and with it there has been so much change, so much growth. You aren’t the same toddler you were a year ago: You are even more expressive. You are potty trained. You are more aware of your surroundings and more independent. You have your own relationships with other people separate from me. You need us, me, less and less, but you still have that desperate love for mommy and daddy that comes with childhood–and I LOVE that. Please don’t grow out of that. Ever.
Emma Vance, you are good. You are exactly who God made you to be, and I LOVE that person more than I could have ever imagined. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for you in our lives, that I don’t pray for you, for your health, for your future. You’ve been ours for 1,095 days today, and that’s not nearly enough time for me to have soaked you in deeply enough to satisfy the God-given love I have for you. Unfortunately, 1,000,095 days wouldn’t even be enough to do that.
I love you, E.V. Happy third birthday, lovey.
And, of course, for comparison’s sake…