You are three years old today, my little Peanut. The cliche "seems like yesterday" has never been so appropriate for me. I just held your wiggling purple body on my chest after that last push. I just brought you home. You just started sitting up, started crawling, started talking, started walking. When did you get so many teeth? When did you learn so many words? How did you get so smart and so big so quickly? I am so proud of you and the little person I'm watching you become.
I know the last year has been hard for you. I've tried to protect you, tried to keep your life normal. I've held it together as best I could so that you didn't have to see me hurt or ask me why I was crying. But I couldn't always protect you. You've had to hear things your little ears shouldn't hear, which has led you to ask questions that should even cross your mind. You've watched Mommy be sad and done your best to cheer me up. You've put your little arms around my neck and cried with me, too. You've adjusted to a new home, a new room, a new life. It hasn't been easy, but you've done so well. You are such a brave, strong little girl. You're too young to understand how much you have meant to me. There are days when the only reason I was able to get out of bed was to take care of you. There are days that my only smile was because of you. You have brought joy to my life on my darkest days. And you have saved me over and over again.
And I am so, so sorry.
Such a burden should have never fallen on your little shoulders. My happiness is not your responsibility. This is your time to be innocent and carefree. You shouldn't have to worry about Mommy. I didn't protect you like I promised I would. I let you see me hurt too many times. I raised my voice at you so often when I wasn't angry with you but with someone else or just life in general. I took advantage of your unconditional love for me and my heart breaks for you.
People tell me how resilient children are, and I pray that is true. I hope you have no memory of much of the past year, of how difficult it has been and how sad your Mommy was.
Things are going to be different in your third year of life.
You will always make me happy, but I won't depend on you to provide it for me. I am the adult. I have to figure out how to be happy. Plus, you deserve to have bad or grumpy days just like everyone else. I shouldn't expect you to be happy for me.
You will always be the driving force in my life, but I will get out of bed every day not because I MUST take care of you but because I WANT to be with you and teach you and play with you. You are not a chore. And you are so much more than just a responsibility. I am honored to be your mother and to have the opportunity to spend these first few years at home with you.
You will always give me reason to live--you are my biggest reason for living--but I have to teach you how to live life to the fullest. And I will teach you best by showing you. I am going to live for you AND with you. I am taking control of my life again. I am not depending on anyone else to provide my happiness, my motivation, my strength. But you, my darling girl, can depend on me to provide that for you. Because you're three. Only three. Yes, you may talk like a little adult. You may act like such a big girl. But you're three. And I'm your mother.
I love you, Mil Mil. Three is going to be a good year for you. For me. For us. It may not be easy, but we're going to make it work and then some. I'm going to be the Mommy you deserve.
Happy birthday. This is my gift to you.
Along with the drum set you're probably getting.