Three.

Where do I even begin?

Maybe here, close to the beginning, in those first few weeks and months where we suddenly realized this was a roller coaster ride our ecstatic, optimistically naive expectations never came close to even imagining. We had already turned our world upside down by moving and replanting ourselves in a completely different place at 30 weeks pregnant, and even then we were unprepared for how this little baby just pulled the rug out from under us with who she was.

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That first year was just plain hard. So many adjustments, floundering around trying to figure everything out. Araiya wasn’t an easy baby. At the time I simply accepted it as how things were, simply how she was. So much of what I did, especially in the middle of the night regarding sleep, was simply to survive and completely out of desperation. Many other new Mom’s I had gotten to know commiserated, many had similar struggles, some had it worse off than I did. Often I was conflicted with self doubt, that I was doing something wrong. But beyond the frustration, the sleep deprivation and all the things in which I wish I could apply the knowledge I know now, there was the pure fun and joy of being a parent. The things I wouldn’t want to go back and give up now because there was just so much awe in the newness and surprise in experiencing things for the first time. Watching with utter amazement the little things that change and develop- smiling, discovering her hands, picking up a toy, sitting up, starting to be mobile. Those were all the things as new parents we just lived for, scouring through the Baby Development books excitedly looking ahead to what she was going to do next.

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And somewhere along the line, she started becoming independent. I guess that is really what growth and development is all about. She could stand, she started to use sign language and communicate, she walked. Actually, she climbed stairs before she could walk, so started understanding ‘No’, though she never took much heed and the climbing continued. We took her on adventures, exposed her to all the things we love doing- hiking, skiing, traveling- I think she was on at least a dozen plane rides before she was 18 months old.

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And her personality shone through. Bubbly, energetic. Often going a million miles an hour. We swung around into counting months in the double digits, emerging into a completely different realm. Things became so much easier as we moved beyond the infant phase. We watched her start to become a person, someone who could really respond to us, communicate needs and wants and most of all, express more rational emotions that we could better understand. It was of course, not without it’s own sets of struggles. That winter was hard as Matt was gone long hours, struggling to bow to the ferry schedule and teaching skiing, leaving me on my own with a rambunctious tiny toddler who was still very needy for stimuli and attention while I rode the waves of pregnancy again. We learned then that we needed to drastically change many things that we were doing, mainly in the realm of shepherding and cultivating our family and it’s preeminence as a higher priority in our lives. 

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So we came around the calender again, emerging both into sun and longer days as well as major adjustments. Matt started working for himself, which allowed for vastly more flexibility. We went from one kid to two, and Araiya abounded in excitement with her little sister, forcing her love and admiration on a wee little baby, seeking a reciprocation of affection and attention. Yet even that came with time. We started spending more time closer to home, nestling ourselves into a day-to-day pattern and routine of activities and things to do. It felt like it really started to fall into place at this point. Araiya was old enough to actually be a helper, as she so desperately desired. She began to be really social and outgoing, forging friendships with other kids, remembering their names and asking to play with specific friends. She expressed her likes and dislikes, fluctuating still from extreme sides of the emotional scale- overflowing happiness would be flipped into dire emotional turmoil when she didn’t get what she wanted. And there were tantrums, meltdowns. Somedays I felt like all I said was ‘No’.

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Then she turned two. Two seemed big. And again came fall, then winter. The winter I felt that I began to gain more ability and freedom on my own. Araiya’s babyhood and early toddler months there was a sense of being tied down, having someone be so utterly dependent on you every second of the day does have it’s weight. It was a very trying period and time of adjustment for me, so the freedom that came with 2 was a breath of fresh air. Her play became so much more independent, so imaginative. It was amazing to interact with the depths of her rapidly expanding world. Even through the bumps, as we spent a good deal of the wintertime sick, there was a tenderness in the neediness that was never present before. She told me “I love you, Mommy” and truly wanted to cuddle with me, knowing that Mom provides comfort, so desperately wanting me to make things all better because she didn’t understand that was beyond my capabilities.

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Then somewhere in there she became girly. She loves pink. She wants to wear dresses everyday. She wants to play with dolls, and have tea parties and get some dress-up clothes. That was a curveball for me. She has an opinion, a very strong one, which can’t be too surprising. She seeks to exert her will, gain her desires. She began thinking and expressing herself logically, coming to conclusions and problem solving ways to get herself things, even though they were rather unrealistic. She began trying to convince me of things, like that she can have candy for breakfast. We could actually carry a conversation as she has been emerging into the world of being a little girl.

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Maybe that is why turning Three has seemed so significant for me. It is the milestone that marks the shedding of the baby years and the emergence into childhood. This will likely be the first year that Araiya has the capacity to actually embed things into her memories that can be recollected for the rest of her life. Already I am amazed at what she remembers about past events, about people we know or have met even a few times. She yearns to learn things, like right now she wants so badly to type out words, mostly her name. She has started attending the preschool-age class at Church on Sundays where there is a curriculum beyond just providing childcare and playtime and loves it. They do a craft and color, sing songs and learn about the Bible. I am amazed at her retention and eagerness. She has memorized several of our board books, endlessly ‘reading’ them to Tallis and now to Pia. She asks to go to school. There is this Spunk in her, a drive and seemingly endless energy to do and take in as much as she possibly can. Her determination and desire to do things on her own, and even moreso on her own terms. I am eager for her in this next year, excited about what it holds for her and what she will discover about the world and about herself. Personally, I seek to better cultivate who she is, where her heart is at and aid in molding her through all these experiences that lie ahead. Experiences I, for the most part, get to be a part of, yet simultaneously realizing the need for her to experience a world beyond me. I desire this for her, yet realize the importance of grounding her and to an extent protecting her by parenting her along the way. I see year three as not only an exciting challenge for her, but one for me as well. I have grown alongside Araiya, in less tangible ways, but changed so drastically through being her Mommy.

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Happy Third Birthday, Araiya. May this day be a celebration of how far you have come, who you are, and where you are going!

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~ by gdesign on August 26, 2008.

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