More Than One Handful
Six years ago, on a bright June morning Baby Bee decided to be impatient and arrive just about two weeks before my due date. My sister dropped everything to drive in from Michigan to give us a hand (and got a monster sunburn in the deal). I don’t buy into superstition and things, but Baby Bee has always been tiny, adorable and impatient.
There is a distinct freedom that comes from being the mother of a few children. I have been able to relax and just enjoy the youngest two for what they are, not something I am able to do for the Princess. The Princess still falls pray to my growing pains. With Littlebit, it’s been about finding ways to relax and letting her grow without feeling the need to hover over her so much and with Baby Bee, watching her grow is just about joy and feeling how lovely it is to have someone be 1 or 3 or 5.
By your third child you have an understanding of what it is to be that age. You know where the magic is laying. You understand how wonderful it feels to have the weight of a sleeping toddler draped across you or to accept a dandelion bouquet from a tiny hand sticky with dandelion milk. Hard things don’t seem so hard. It’s easy to change diapers, rock to sleep, comfort after accidents and watch, hawk-like, for dangers.
You can sense when your child is going to wrench away from you in a parking. You can feel a meltdown coming. You learn them, differently. They don’t insult you when they turn their noses up at your home cooked meals and announce they liked the boxed stuff better. You understand how little 2 and 3 still are and you excuse them for their break downs and insecurity. You spritz them with your perfume before sending them off to preschool so they can smell you and feel near.
You greet their milestones like old friends. Crawling? How enchanting! Walking? Wonderful! Cobbled together two and three word sentences? How I’ve missed you! Please, come and stay a while. Adorable stick figure representations of your family? Yes! I have a bed made up for you! Goodnight, Moon? Yes, I’d love to read it again (and again). Playdough? I have all the time in the world for you.
Haltering reading from thin paper books with short words and tiny heads bent over in concentration? Yes. Please come. I’ve missed you.
All children are gifts. Don’t mistake my words. Every one and every moment, even the trying ones, are precious. The minutes and hours and days fly by so quickly, as if they’re on a rocket. They’re so few and so fast. They’re a gift.
When Baby Bee was tiny, I made up a ridiculous song that we sang to her all the time. In it, I extolled her to “be a little baby as long as you can”. Third babies grow up so much faster than first babies do as they run to catch up with their older siblings. In many ways, Baby Bee has given me a gift. I don’t have an eternal toddler or preschooler, but I have been lucky enough to get a little bit of extra little kid time through her and I’ve cherished every bit. Her delays are cloaked in a blessing. Her lack of maturity means more time with someone small in my lap. Her need for more time to grow meant a whole extra year of that magical place called Preschool.
That’s not to say we haven’t had hard times with her. We have. And, in my heart I know that her transition to school won’t be easy for her, no matter how hard I work to prepare her or be positive about it. Baby Bee is going to struggle and that breaks my heart in half. No one wants that for their children, but for Baby Bee, it’s going to be unavoidable. I’m worried that six isn’t going to be her best year and I want every single year to be her best year.
But, in the end, I know Baby Bee will continue to be what we love the most about her. She will be funny and imaginative and persistent and adorable. Our irreplaceable number three.
Happy Birthday, tiny love.
That’s my daughter in the water
every time she fell I caught her.
Every time she fell.
That’s my daughter in the water,
I lost every time I fought her.
Yeah, I lost every time.
–Daughter by Loudon Wainwright