A letter to Ali on her third birthday…
The past few weeks, whenever someone’s asked you how old you are, you’ve replied with a peppy and matter-of-fact, “I’m going to be three! My birthday’s coming up soon.”
It’s as though—ever so conveniently—you’ve completely forgotten that you used to be two.
And I guess it’s fair. I’ve sort of forgotten too. The days slide one into the next and it’s only by looking back at photos and recalling old memories that I realize just how different you are these days, how much you’ve grown and changed and positively fricken flourished this year.
This past year has been a big one for you, starting smoothly enough but escalating abruptly into a few months of all too much happening all at once.
August and September were especially wild. A few days before your first day of preschool, a transition big enough to shake most kids on its own, you were hospitalized for ITP. A few days later, still sporting a big purple bruise where the IV line had been inserted into your tiny hand, you rocked your first day of preschool. A few weeks after that, you became a big sister, transitioning into your new role with more grace and ease than I ever could’ve imagined possible.
I have always known you to be resilient—your dad and I have been intentional about instilling that in you—so it’s not particularly surprising to me that you have been so easeful about adapting to exciting (and sometimes uncomfortable) new challenges.
What has surprised me, however, has been the warmth and love and genuine kindness you seem to bring to everything you do. It catches me off guard. It makes my heart swell with pride. It makes me wonder if I can take any credit for you after all.
Just this past weekend, after eating dinner at your best friend’s house, you said goodbye, reminded him you’d see him again next weekend for your birthday party, and then held him in a long, deep hug. You both closed your eyes, your lengthy little bodies softening as you embraced. Then you looked him in the eyes, smiled, and said again, “See you next weekend!”
You were my inspiration in that moment. You’re my inspiration in many moments.
You remind me to be my best self, because you are always watching, always doing what I do and only doing what I say when I clearly mean business.
And you definitely know when I do not mean business. You know I believe hypocrisy is ludicrous. You know I figure I should either stop doing the things I don’t want you to do or else use them as opportunities to teach you that sometimes indulgence—like snacking on a bit of dark chocolate after dinner—is a wonderful thing. Or to teach you that we humans—yours truly included—are woefully fallible.
You collect all my little habits like stones in your pocket, for better or worse, and you’re the most honest mirror I’ve ever looked into. I delight in seeing you care for your sister or say something just like I do. And then sometimes I see glimmers of perfectionism and flustered impatience bubbling up in you the same way they bubble up in me, and that’s decidedly less delightful to witness.
Of course, you’re also uniquely you in so many ways that are clearly not derived from me. You are outgoing. You love to sing and wear dresses and twirl like a ballerina until you fall over from dizziness. You love olives and salami and other foods I can’t stand. You notice small details and remember things I forget.
You’re only three, but you somehow seem so much older. I guess it’s just hard to imagine that I and the world once existed without you. What a lame world that must’ve been.
Happy third birthday, Alice Aria Guimarin. I love you so much I could explode.
xo (x infinity),
Mama/Mom/Mommy/Megan Benjamin Guimarin
Photos: Flavy Cappelle