I think that having a three year old is one of the most perfect stages in all of parenthood. Some of you with your own little three year old will laugh at that statement. But, I think you know it's true. It's not because I love temper tantrums or illogical questions or that shift from napping to not napping. I'm not crazy. It's just that, at three, a distinct personality begins to come out in full force and it leaves little doubt about who this child will be. The details of their lives and the specific ways their personality will show itself may be a mystery as of yet, but there are very few questions about how this child sees and interacts with the world. Three is when I begin to have those moments where the curtain between now and years from now falls away and, for brief snatches of time, I can see and hear and smell my daughter at 15, 16, 23...saying something in the exact same way she does now, only she's bigger. At three, I can experience parts of her that will be the same when she is all grown up, only I don't have to let go of her just yet. I love three.
Bella is three and we are experiencing all of the above. When I see her love for books or for art and music, my heart is full with the thought of all we will enjoy together. When I see her being a mother to her "honeys" (her dollies), I just know that mothering will come more naturally to her, and I can imagine the delight it will be to watch her with her own children. And the conversations we have! Loren and I have a perpetual "trying to hold it in" grin on our faces when she talks to us because she is just so cute. Her head slightly cocked and eyebrows raised when she's feeling particularly sassy, her seriousness in conveying her side of the story, her confident way with mispronounced words (the latest, "scone" is the most obvious pronunciation of a favorite flavored ice treat). All of it will be present in one way or another in the grown up version of Bella. And, oh my, the clumsiness...and the way she laughs it off, gracefully allowing us all to have a giggle at her expense. I see her becoming who she is and it's one of my deepest joys.
And, I guess it's one of my greatest hopes as well. I hope, as she grows and changes and understands more and more about who God created her to be, that she would be confident in the fact that I see her. That, even if she is quieter and doesn't demand as much attention, she would feel known and enjoyed and appreciated for the perfectly unique reflection of God that she is. That she would know what a delight she is to Loren and to me and most of all, to the God who made her Bella...beautiful one. I pray that she would know that her quiet spirit and sweet nature is a strength and not a weakness. That she would embrace her beautiful, vulnerable heart. The one that makes others take a deep breath and slow down for a moment to bask in her sunshine.
I know she'll be all grown up one day. And I'm already starting to see what that may look like. But, for now, I'll just concentrate on enjoying three. Because 23 will be here before I know it. And letting her go is not something I'm ready to think about just yet.