she is three

she is three years old, our sophia.

we see her living into what it must be to be three, for it's something new for all of us, and even though it seems like yet another day, another slow transition from two to three, it's still taking us some time to figure out what three means. and with that, i can hear my three-year-old's voice in my head question, "why?" because all things to her these days start and end with that word. i guess we could say that being three has made us question things. to figure out things together. with her prompting us to respond and for us to "come up with an answer." being three for sophia means the world is coming into focus a bit more. she wants to know how things work. if there is a rhyme and reason for all things. and she is looking to her mommy and daddy for that information--she still believes we know everything. that part of her being three--her needing me still--lets me hold onto the still small child that she is growing out of. the innocence of being three. the three year old who still needs mommy and daddy to wipe away her tears, for us to hold her when she's not feeling well or needs to be rocked for comfort in those moments when she can't quite understand why she feels such strong emotions. and it's when i look at her three year old face that i can tell myself that she's still my child who hasn't completely grown out of my arms. and she's still my three year old who will take my kisses and hugs.

but i know this won't all last. she is a three year old who also has her own opinions, her own desires--and these are being made known. she prefers something--what to wear, what to eat, what to do--other than what i had in mind. and i have to figure out how to encourage her independence while also putting up healthy limits on these three-year-old-girl's wishes. and those moments when she is inconsolable i have to determine if this is just a dramatic act or if there is something really serious that she needs help sorting through. and i have to be careful on what i say and do around her. because she is watching so intensely, waiting to ask me why and waiting to repeat what i say. she hears even when i don't think she's listening. and i know this because when she plays with her babies (which is still her favorite thing to do, even as a three year old), what i've said to her, what i've done with her is acted out through her play. it reminds me that i am her primary teacher (not for long however). there are others now that she is listening to. her peers, other mommies and daddies in sunday school, other parents in play groups, what she watches in movies, what she sees others do in the grocery store. these are now influencing her thought and exposing her to this world of both beauty and brokenness. for i can't protect her from that anymore or pretend it doesn't exist. and she's learning about differences in people. she sees things that, at my age, i know how to gloss over and desensitize myself to. but she's hyper-aware of these things. and i pray that my responses to her are out of a place of love for others--a place where Jesus would see these things--to tell her about the world in a way that is real, but using kind words and a non-judgmental tone. that my responses would be enough to let her know that she is secure and safe, but that ultimately, we need to trust in God. this will be a year of testing in that as we continue to raise sophia in a way that is honoring to God--we will daily ask Him for wisdom on how to parent her well.

oh but such beauty is in this three year old daughter of mine! her laughter is maturing to deeper, stronger rhythms laced with giggles that are so infectious and playful. her smile is so true and so graceful, and as her lips curve upward at the ends, it sends a little ripple of joyous life up into her eyes so that they radiate the most softest, iridescent blue. and her silky, golden-brown hair flows around her head and touches her face with lightness and ease and never likes to be contained in barrets and bows and rubberbands. and i can remember a time when her hair was so dark, almost black, and there wasn't much there to move because it sat so still upon her newborn brow. sophia is full of energy and vibrancy that tells me more and more that she is three. she has ideas and these ideas move her body to run, to skip, to hop, to dance in her own way--perfecting these moves and she learns to use her legs and arms to do what she imagines them to do. she is fast and at the same time, i see her stillness and her reservedness. she has moments of hesitation where it takes her some time to want to engage and participate. and i both love when she lingers by my side, watching, thinking, and then that moment when she feels brave and ready to join in. to try out something. checking back, finding my eyes. and i smile and reassure her i am here--even across the room. and that is enough. she turns back and continues.

i am so thrilled for what this three year old will do over this next year. of what she will learn. of the friends she will make. of the discoveries she will uncover about herself. and for the many, many more times she will come to me to sit with me. to snuggle under covers in the early morning. she will continue to call me her mommy and i will always hope to reflect to her compassion and sympathy, kindness, and certainty. calmness and feistiness. gentleness and braveness. and encourage her to grow in intelligence and wisdom, thoughtfulness and creativity. for there will be a place--as i see it now--where mommy ends and sophie begins. when she says her own name for others--it is her voice telling them who she is--no longer my voice introducing her as my child. but now she is seeing herself a part from me. which is good and natural. and i want that for her--i want her to find her strong, clear voice. for it is a wonderful voice. the voice of a three year old who is divinely loved.

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happy birthday to my lovely three year old. the one and only ever you. and i'd like to think that not only on the night you were born that heaven blew every trumpet and that the night wind whispered, "life will never be the same." but i think that happens every day with you, sophia. for you, beloved child.