Tonight, for the last time in my parenting experience, I put a three-year-old to bed. Tomorrow, she will be four, and the girl who just weeks ago would rarely put two words together will hand me a book and say, “Mommy, help please. Read.” She will be excited for school in the morning, and when brother is too slow, she will yell up the stairs, “Corin! Come! Backpack! Bus!” She will belt out her made-up songs and dance with her reflection in the glass door. She will count to five or maybe even 10, and she might play hide-and-seek with brother. At some point, she’ll inevitably yell in astonishing volume at the unlucky soul who has crossed her purposes. She’ll laugh at silly faces and sibling antics. When she’s sleepy, she’ll rub my hair and suck her fingers and let me feel, just for a minute, that I have a baby still.
Tomorrow, she will do the million things she does every day to light up my world. But tomorrow, she will be four, and she will be just a little taller and just a little stronger and just a little wiser, and she will need just a little less of me. And I will be so proud and also sad, because I’m a mother, and it’s what we do.
Sleep well, baby girl. Another year begins tomorrow, and there are new worlds to conquer. I’ll be here with you, but just a little further back than I was yesterday.