Rio is three years old today!

The past year has been so incredible. She’s given up babyhood and become, as she puts it “A Kid!” Since her last birthday, she gave up diapers, learned the alphabet, stopped nursing, learned to write her name, sleep through the night in her own bed, ride a tricycle, count to 16 and bake popovers. Etc, etc, etc. She is a tiny learning sponge. People keep congratulating her on turning 4, which must be at least in part because she is so very tall, but I like to think it’s also because she is so very articulate.

I’m on the cusp of having another baby, and holding onto this bittersweet knowledge that these are the last uninterrupted moments Rio and I have; soon we’ll have to share our motherbaby bubble with another kid. She’s ready to be a sister, I’m ready to be a mom again, but I never want to forget that this is what our days were like:

This morning I woke up with her snuggled against my chest, head resting on my bent arm and little arms wrapped around my great moonlike belly. She sneaks in at dawn, every dawn, and goes to sleep like this in my arms. I did this to my mother until I was 14, and I keep hoping that Rio will not give it up as she learns to sleep more and more on her own.

We both stretched and wriggled and eventually woke up. She asked where her dad was. I wished her happy birthday and told her she was three now. She did not believe me. “No,” she said, “I won’t be three until my birthday. Then there will be lots and lots of kids.”

We got up, washed yesterday’s pound or so of playground dirt off her thirty-eight-inch, thirty pound body and dressed her up as a “princess” in a fluffy magenta gown. M cooked “huevos”, her favorite breakfast. She refused to have her hair brushed.

She went to Claudia’s, the home daycare where she does two mornings a week of Not Being With Mom. I went with her for cupcakes and songs, and then came home to write after she enthusiastically said, “Ok, Bye MOM!”

I’m writing about the mundane details of our day, but what I want to capture here is something that simply can’t be caught: how at her birth I wondered wondered wondered what went on in her head. My mother said, “Don’t worry, someday she will tell you. More than you ever wanted to know.” And I imagined Rio at 16, both vibrant and sulky, wanting nothing to do with me, and laughed in my mother’s general direction. I’d forgotten about being three, and how now she tells me every thought that flutters across her surface. And even with the outpouring of words, I hold her up each day and wonder, “What is the work of this god?”

This seems like an appropriate time to do a brief history of Rio:

0. She was born, and we put a silly hat on her.
Her birth story

1. She had a birthday. The weather was strange.
Her first birthday

2. Another year, another birthday!

3. Still the most beautiful child in the world (just like all the other most beautiful children…)

And also Not To Be Messed With

I hope she holds fast to every scrap of the grace and power that flows so effortlessly through her and from her each day. I want to know the child and adult she’s going to grow to be, and I pray she proves stronger than the world I brought her into. So far, she certainly has.