The time E turned 3 and I bawled.

My first baby, born so tiny on a rainy Ohio day, has turned 3 years old.

Turn off the lights, would ya?

Turning 1 was a milestone. Turning 2 was just exhausting. But turning 3 is fun, exciting and bittersweet all wrapped into one.

I’m not really an emotional person. I don’t get sentimental. Nostalgic, but never weepy. But today, I’m a wreck.

I just adore watching her become a little girl and embrace the world around her. She is still spunky and wild as ever but she’s starting to adore the things little girls of a certain age do. Hair bows, puppy dogs and nail polish with “barkles” (sparkles). She’s fascinated with pirates and likes to go on adventures. She’s never met a person she doesn’t call her friend and the girl has some incredible dance moves. She says I’m her favorite person in the whole world and she is my sunshine.

It’s been a heck of a year. I’ve watched E really become a big sister. To share her snacks,toys and Momma.

E hit the “terrible twos” at a young 18-months-old and held on strong until just a few months ago. Most of the struggles I’ve faced as a parent aren’t because of E’s strong-will, but rather from the growing pains I experienced while figuring out exactly what kind of parent she needed me to be.

Before I had children, I thought I knew how to parent. But there was no way to know what kind of parent I would be until I did it. No, it wasn’t until I began to really know her and see her personality emerge. So much emphasis is put on the choices made that first year – how to feed, how to sleep, how to rear, and so on. Yes, those decisions are important but I don’t think that determines what kind of parent you are.

Honestly, I don’t think much of one’s parenting style really develops until your children begin to push back – scream at you because their favorite doggie is missing, try to run into traffic, kick you in the face when you try to put them in their car seat – and you’re forced to react. Did I speak kindly? Was I loving, but firm? Did I discipline effectively? Does she know I love her? Does she even love me? I spent so much of her second year feeling like a failure. Like I had no clue what I was doing and that a wild child had taking over my sweet little baby and, subsequently, control of our home. Some of those days, I was so overwhelmed by not liking her, it was hard to remember to just love her. But I did. I held her tight when the tantrums were too much for both of us to handle. We found ways to make each other understand. And we just loved each other.

So, at the risk of jinxing myself, I’ll say we’ve figured it out. For now. I have a feeling we may just be in the eye of the storm as I’ve heard several people remark that the third year (well, fourth, technically) is even worse. But right now, I’m diggin’ what we have going.

That beautiful smile that lights the world.

Happy birthday, sweet girl. Thanks for teaching me how to be a Momma.

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12 thoughts on “The time E turned 3 and I bawled.

  1. oh Elizabeth, that is precious! Enjoy every moment with those beautiful girs….they grow way too fast. And for what it is worth, you are a wonderful mom!
    Enjoy!

  2. Very sweet sweet post. I find myself wondering already if I’m a good parent to Parker and if he knows I love him when he gets in trouble or just in general. Being a parent is an incredible adventure.

    • Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I remember having several conversations with Josh about it; if she “really” loved me or if she just loved me because without me she wouldn’t survive, you know? But he does love you and you guys are doing great. Parenting is certainly a marathon, not a sprint!

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  4. I love this. I think it is a really good perspective for me to hold on to as my daughter hits the Terrible Twos (they came early for us as well!) — that I am in the process of finding out what kind of parent I am going to be, and I am doing that based on who she needs me to be. Yesterday I had the thought, “What am I doing wrong?” when she had yelled in my face “NO!” one time too many. But reading your post makes me think more about all the things I am doing right, in the ways that I react in those testing situations. And it’s very good to know there is hope on the other side!

    • It’s most certainly a challenging time for all parties involved but you WILL get through it! Granted, there will be lots of tears. And probably blood. But it sounds like you’re figuring it out… good luck!

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