She’s Almost Three

Lately I’ve been dogged by a sense of “What am I forgetting?”. My inner eye scans mental laundry lists, I run through a roll call of friends to email or phone, I pat my pockets and my purse, checking again to see if I have keys and wallet. Then my gaze falls on my daughter and the sense heightens. She might be standing right in front of me, but I find myself wondering where that kid I was living with 6 months ago has gone. I reference her as a toddler and then realize the label no longer works, now the term is “pre-schooler”. I may be running the risk of becoming a helicopter parent, not because I want to micromanage her activity, but because I am developing a phobia of missing something. Some incremental change or growth.

We found a 1960’s mini electric organ at a yard sale in Cape Cod, for three bucks. So we bought it and brought it up to camp, where it will live as a special toy to remember and return to each summer.

Since I can hear the thundering hoofs of my 40th birthday as it approaches from up the road, I have been freaking out from dancing with a heightened sense of how quickly it all goes, these lives of ours. I am having such typical mid-life crisis thoughts, that I haven’t really been speaking them aloud, leaving tasteless cliches to coat my tongue. Hindsight, regret, and the sped up ticking of a clock are the thumbtacks I find under my butt, every time I take my seat. I grasp at the moment with my hands, only to realize that everything has continued to flow while I am stuck back in some eddy, trying to catch my reflection in the water. (Sometimes, my compassionate observer within takes on the form of Princess Leia in this scene, for which I’m grateful.).

Wait for me!

It’s really hard to break habits and keep new ones, you know? Or perhaps it’s just the latter, since the former are less habits and more just the same ol’ unconscious M.O. How many times have I come to the realization that slowing down and allowing for the simultaneous grief of what passes and joy for what emerges is absolutely, one hundred percent necessary for living a life where I’m not driving myself crazy? Maybe that morning sitting practice will become permanent within the second half of my life. (Permanent! See what I did there? All you Buddhists in the audience are laughing, I can hear you.).

What would we do without Daddies with strong arms and a sense of play?

In some ways though, I need to get up to speed. Because while I’m still reading about how to handle toddler tantrums, my PRESCHOOLER is in the other room, taking her aggression out on her stuffed duck, and then making up for it by playing him a song on her xylophone.

I remember the importance of “beginners mind”, of approaching her with curiousity, of the need to say who are you? Because by the time I wonder who she is, that child is no longer around to tell me, and I’ll never get to go back and find out.

Where did you come from and what did you do with my baby that was here two minutes ago?

While I am busy trying to figure out how to “do it right”, the moment has passed and we’re on to something new. She will never again be the girl she was six months ago, or yesterday even. We all know this, that each moment is a world of now that is gone with the outbreath. But nothing shoves it in your face quite like having a young child who is forever running just a step in front of you. Literally and figuratively.

I never knew love could be so strong, and just keep getting stronger with each day, month, year.

Fern will be THREE a week from tomorrow, and her birthday party is this Saturday. We are undertaking a huge D.I.Y project as her main gift, and there’s nothing like that sense of sped up time to make you think there’s no way in hell I’m going to get this done. And so, I am going to take my leave of you here, and spend the next few mornings trying to complete the impossible. My posts may be short, or non-existant, so I can have extra time for scraping wood and decoupaging.

See you in a few days! xo


12 thoughts on “She’s Almost Three

  1. Beautifully put Mary. I’m feeling it too with Gus (he’s only a few months ahead of Fern)…even though I already went through it with Jasper, I’m more aware in my old age (ha! 40 really does play tricks) and my heart is feeling it so much more. Happy happy birthday to Fern! I can’t wait to see what you guys are crafting for her. Happy Birth-day to you as well!
    much love-

  2. I’m with Kerri… I think you’re the best writer on the internet, anyway.

    My baby will be 15 in a few months. Many, many times lately I’ve looked at him (looked UP at him after this latest growth spurt, haha), noticing his long gangly limbs and his peachfuzzy mustache, his big hands and gigantic feet, and I wonder what happened to the little baby he was. Where’s my little toddler dude, barreling through the room shouting WHY at the top of his lungs? What happened between then and now, and what the hell have I missed along the way? It’s mind-blowing. And it goes by so freaking fast.

    I love that you’re paying so much attention to your little one now, while she’s little… and documenting it. That’s the one thing I never did, and now I find myself wishing I had. I *think* I was paying attention and noticing all the milestones and funny things and heart-breaking tender moments from when he was little, but I definitely get that “What am I forgetting?” feeling. Some days it feels monumental.

  3. happy birthday to little fern. i hope that it is a day full of fun, smiles and joyous moments that ya’ll will remember forever. 🙂 fern and i have really close birthdays. mine is the 13th. i am turning 39. and it is weird, for it seems like i should be turning 29 instead, you know? LOL. I believe that time does past so fast, but I also see that you are savoring, relishing every moment with your little fern and know that you will always have those sweet memories. although i have no children of my own.. i have many nieces and nephews, that i love, as though they were my very own. and have felt similar ideas, with them growing up, with each phase and trying to be the best aunt for them, that i can. and watching them grow so fast, so quickly. sad to see the moments pass, but happy to see them grow into each phase as well. enjoy preparing for the amazing birthday party!! 🙂 janet

  4. my baby will be three in october. this whole kindergarten thing with my oldest has been really raw and emotional, almost in the same way those first few weeks of having a newborn are. and i keep remembering those newborn days and looking at these two giant boys and thinking “who are you? where is that baby who swam in my belly?” they really do go so fast.

  5. Dear Mary, this is such a loving bitter sweet piece. I’ve always been one of those people who looks back rather than ahead, and I can only imagine how I would be if more so if I had a little one. I would miss every moment even as it was passing and wonder where it went. And yet. Our lives are long. So long and sweet. Many Happy Returns Littlest Fern!

    ps. The American school terminology is WHACK. Pre-schooler at 3?!? The way we do it is: Kindergartener (child garden goer ; ) at first. Pre-schooler at six (but still at the same kindergarten). First grader at 7. Even that seems to soon to me.

  6. you make me think of things i really really want to remember to think about. thank you love. i love and hate the pressure of making things for the kids’ birthdays. and afterwards i always feel like a superhero, and so badass and happy, for having done it. and they seem to feel really whole in their receiving of something made like that just for them. it is so beautiful, that whole process. and the cracking of the heart as they grow older, and as we grow older, is loud and painful, and then it allows all this good light in. or something like that. birth! life! ouch! all better! yay! ouch! love! thank you you thoughtful friend.

  7. i hope little fern has a wonderful birthday! they do get old so quick! max will be 14! it doesn’t seem that long ago that i was 14 (although it was). well, know that you are doing a fabulous job! your not missing anything, i can tell 😀 and as far as your 40th…well, let’s just say i hope you have some new friends celebrating with you ;D

  8. Immediately upon reading this post i went back through your blog to look at baby pics of Fern and “reminisce” and i was utterly absorbed in her adorableness!!! it is soooo fun to see what that tiny baby looks has turned into so far, such a glorious young child frolicking about with curiosity and determination. it is all, of course, extremely poignant for me as i start out with my now already 8 week old!!! i can hardly imagine how fast the years will fly since they flew before i had a child too. i’m with milla, i get nostalgic about time right as it is passing! that’s why we journal i suppose. i love what brigit wrote, above, too. it is so sweet to be joining you all in this amazingly emotional journey of motherhood.

  9. Since I posted about Clover starting Kindergarten and my own feelings about watching her grow in general, I’ve kind of been fascinated by the fact that I seem to be in the minority as far as not grieving the loss of “who she was” and wondering what it is about my inner workings that makes that true.

    I think it’s partly just my nature. I really didn’t think twice about turning 40 and even reading Heather’s comment above, I’ve never felt compelled as a journal keeper. You mentioned your inner observer and I think maybe that’s a big part of it, that my nature is to observe and not necessarily record. Perhaps that’s why I often find myself a reluctant blogger. Also, I’m probably an observer to a fault in some ways, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

    So as I read your so beautifully expressed feelings here, it was definitely going through my mind, ok, so how am I different? Haha, yes, I am an analyzer too.

    When I read this:

    “I remember the importance of “beginners mind”, of approaching her with curiousity, of the need to say who are you? Because by the time I wonder who she is, that child is no longer around to tell me, and I’ll never get to go back and find out.”

    I realized that that’s not how I’m viewing it. I see the importance of “who are you?” as a questioning of who she is in essence, more so than who she is at that moment. In my mind that child IS still around, and has only become MORE ABLE to tell me who she is.

    Just another perspective, but possibly a helpful one 🙂 Also, don’t worry she’s only turning 3, you still have PLENTY of time to exercise those tantrum handling skills 😉

    Aw, well, HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO FERN, amazing little creature that she is! I hope all is coming along well with the DIY project, can’t wait to see what it is!

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