You are my firecracker and my sweet-as-cotton-candy love. I’m crazy about you. You are my favorite three year old, though I can hardly believe that it’s true. Your birthday was Sunday. Where did three years go? You are brave and strong and you love fiercely. When you hug, it is never half-hearted. It is teeth-clenched, arms tight, hard-as-you-can-possibly-squeeze intense, as if the best way to show someone you love them is to really make them feel it. I think you’re probably right.
You love to cuddle and snuggle and wear your “comfy cozy jammies.” You’re smart as a whip and regularly surprise us with your ability to creatively solve your problems… recently you (the girl who loves to do everything herself) began asking us to come to the bathroom with you so that you can “hold onto our legs.” When we asked you why, you matter-of-factly announced it was so you wouldn’t have to touch the toilet and therefore not have to wash your hands. (You don’t want to slow down long enough to wash your hands, and I’ve told you in the past that you must do so after using the bathroom and touching the germy toilet.) We laughed at your problem-solving. You love your puppy, LeLe, and regularly tell her that she’s a good dog. Except when she isn’t, and then you like to point out her foibles. It won’t be long till you take the same approach to us. Your descriptor-of-choice for people lucky enough to be in your good favor is “girl.” Those who aren’t are all “boys.” Regardless of a person’s actual gender, I might add. The other day after your daddy did something that particularly pleased you, you happily sighed and told me, “I love my daddy, mama. He’s not a boy anymore.” It’s nice to know you have a concept of grace.
You sing with joy, and your favorite song – on repeat in the car for weeks now – is Ten Thousand Reasons by Matt Redman. You know all the words, and when the tempo picks up in preparation for the chorus you grin and shout, “Here we go mama!” I can’t help but shout the same thing in my heart. Yes, sweetheart, here we go.
It seems like yesterday we were driving down the bumpy back roads late at night from Qingyundian into Beijing. I was so worried we’d get caught in traffic on the way to the hospital… I could see the spectacle in my mind: American women in full-blown labor on a crowded Beijing subway. Some adventures don’t seem worth having. But you told us you were coming in the evening, and we made it to the hospital in about an hour. Our doctor, Amber Chen, was waiting as I came off the elevator. The evening passed in a blur… fitful bits of sleep and worried doctors and talk of dropping heart rates and meconium and the “baby must come now or we will do an emergency c-section.” I was fretful and tired and unsure how it would all work out, and just like that, there you were. “It’s a girl!” Dr. Chen announced. “Are you sure?” I asked. She was. And so I became a mama right there – laying on a hard bed one cold winter morning in downtown Beijing. Here we go.
And we’ve been on a journey, ever since, sweet girl. In some ways, you saved me from myself as we moved back to America. You kept me grounded as I processed the magnitude of leaving China and coming home… a far harder transition than moving there ever was. In those days of uncertainty, you gave me purpose. I found a quiet joy in watching you thrive, after years of being around little ones who weren’t. Parenting is such a challenging journey – partially because just as soon as you get used to one phase, it’s time for something new. But I’ve loved the journey with you, and while I’m particularly enjoying this season where I can have actual conversations with you and hear what you are thinking or feeling, what I wouldn’t give for just one more middle-of-the-night feeding. Our journey is changing sweet girl. You don’t understand, but it’s another one of those seasons where my heart hears the change in the music. Here we go, sweet girl!
You are about to be a big sister. I’m terrified you will hate it but convinced that you’ll love it. I have no doubt you’ll be good at the big sister gig, as long as your little allows you a bit of that “big sister” bossing privilege. But I know it is going to be hard for you. Sharing your toys, your room, your mama, and your daddy. Sharing your puppy and your whole little world. In my heart-of-hearts, I think you will be huge part of showing Alea the way of being in a family. You’ll take her by the hand and wrap her up in your love. You’ll take all that brave, strong, fierce love and you’ll learn what it means to love a sister. Sometimes it might feel like iron sharpening iron, but I believe the two of you will call out all that is best in each other.
Even if you don’t fully understand, I think you know in the deepest part of your heart something is happening. You look at the painting on our wall and tell me you want to ride an airplane to China. You point at the little black-haired-beauty holding your hand in the painting and tell me, “Let’s go get my friend.” My heart swells because you don’t even know what you’re saying, but it is true. We’re going to China again… the land where I first became a mama and you became a daughter. Our feet will hit that soil in just a few months, and our family will go through yet another massive transition. You will become a sister on the same ground where we became a family. Just like your birth, it might hurt and take our breath away sometimes, sweet girl. It’s OK to be scared and uncertain and wondering what the future will hold and how it will all turn out. I am, too. But one thing I know, we are on this journey together.
The music is changing; a new song is coming, and it’s almost time… Here we go, darling.
Here. We. Go.