Three years old / by Christina Rosalie

Dear Bean,You are three this week. Three, and around you everything is a little tornado of delight. When I came home from a week away and slipped into our comfy king sized bed, you were already there, curled among the flannel sheets, nuzzled into my pillow. I kissed your cheek and you smiled, a dreamy sleep smile, but still one of contented recognition. Later, you woke to find me next to you and threw your arms around my neck, “Mommy” you sighed. “I love you so much.”

In the morning we made blueberry pancakes, and stacked them on your plate with a star candle, flickering brightly. At your place, I put the rocks I’d collected hiking on trails winding along the desert outside Zion, Utah. One smooth and round, sparkling with tiny bits of glitter, like a star-filled sky. Another, a small bit of petrified wood, found on the muddy trail outside of the park where the group stopped and ate apples and chocolate and almonds while the desert sun soaked into our skin.

You pay attention to everything around you now. Never missing a subtlety of expression, you listen to your daddy talk stocks, and when we asked you how your day was going, you shrugged mournfully, held your hands up in the air, palms up, and said: “My stock is going down; it went all the way down under the floor." Then you grinned like an elf and added, "But it came back up.”

More and more I notice you paying attention to text—everywhere you notice letters—the ones in your name, and also others. When I was gone, I left you a small present for every day I was away. One was a counting book, starting at 10 and going backwards. By the time I came home, you knew all the words, and pointed to each number identifying it correctly. Like me, I think, you are a kid born to learn. I’ve always been voracious this way. Always full of wonder and hungering to learn new things, and I’m glad this is something we share.

I missed you while I was gone, in a bewildering tender way: I kept thinking wherever I went that I’d forgotten something. Still, I was thrilled to go. I hope you understand this. We napped together today. I needed to catch up on much needed sleep, after a week writing, my entire being thrumming like a tuning fork with inspiration after being with such an amazing group of writers.

When we snuggled under the covers, you whispered, “I missed you so much, Mommy,” and gently kissed my face again and again. I said I missed you too, but that it was good for me to go, because it made me happy and you nodded.

I watched you all day today, content to let my orbit grow small around you after a week of airplanes, content simply to be your mother. Remembering three years ago, labor long, spring temporarily bursting in the Connecticut suburbs where I circled the deck working through contractions. Remembering the disorienting blur of new motherhood, your small body no longer a piece of mine. On your birthday we spent the day doing things your way: walking along the waterfront checking out trains, playing with cars and cranes on the floor, and giggling. Lots of giggling.

Adjectives that describe you right now: inquisitive, persistent, curious, determined, intelligent, astute, perceptive, silly, playful, intuitive, and observant.

I’m so proud to be your mama. I love you.