It’s hard to believe that 3 years ago, my beautiful Peeper made me a mom.
I will never forget that day. Early that morning I woke with contractions. A bit later, Eric, my sister, Finn and I went for a hike. My water broke on the car ride home. At the hospital, I endured excruciating back labor that made me wild with fear. But just after 9pm, I met the tiny person who had grown from two joined cells to an entire person, and my life broke open in the most joyous way possible.
Peeper’s third birthday marks a division in my life—a clear before and after. But she continues to rock my world every day we spend together.
At 3 years old, Peeper is such a strong, individual, whole person, it’s hard to imagine she came from that smoosh-faced newborn who couldn’t focus her eyes. Now Peeper notices the tiniest of details. “What’s that noise?” she’ll ask, cocking her head to better hear a truck braking in the distance. Or she’ll be jumping around in a sunbeam and suddenly exclaim, “I’m trying to catch those tiny specks of dust!”
The hints of her personality that peeked through in her first months now shine strong. Even before she could hold up her own head, she was content to sit on my lap and read books for ages. Now paging through stories is often the only way we can bribe her into eating, and sometimes I’ll walk into her room to find her quietly leafing through her library by herself.
One of my favorite videos from when she was a baby was when she pulled herself up to standing and began dancing to her favorite band, The Black Keys. (Regrettably, all she’ll listen to these days is the Cinderella soundtrack.) Now she looks at herself in our full-length mirror as her feet fly, Riverdance-style. “Look at me!” she’ll laugh.
She is still so in tune with her feelings, and the feelings of others. “Shoot,” I’ll say when I drop something. “What’s ‘shoot,’ Mom?” she’ll ask, trying to figure out why I am mad. Then she’ll come give me a hug to make me feel better.
Her sensitivity definitely doesn’t protect her from throwing epic tantrums. The other day we went swimming with some friends. Peeper was in her element, kicking and splashing and hanging on a “poodle noodle.” But after last play in the pool, she started screaming—and didn’t stop. I half-worry she punctured the eardrum of some toy yorkies walking by.
Peeper is so mature that sometimes I forget how little she is: a just-turned-three-year-old who doesn’t yet know how to manage feelings of disappointment.
“I want to stay in the pool forever!” she wailed as I held her in a towel.
Funny thing is, we adults feel like that too, only we know how to push past that frustration. We also know plenty of summer days stretch ahead of us, along with many opportunities to jump in feet-first.
I feel that way about Peeper. This is a golden summer for her. She is now 3. She is curious, compassionate, hilarious, strong, kind and sweet. Thank goodness my time with her stretches out as far as I can imagine, like a summer day that keeps going and going.
I am beyond grateful to witness her growing into her role as Big Sister. Sure, she still panics when Kiwi crawls too near one of her painstakingly made block trains, and the other day she leap-frogged over her little sis, pushing the baby’s face onto the tile and giving her a bloody lip in the process. But those lapses in preschooler judgement are outnumbered by the sweet moments.
Some mornings, Eric brings Kiwi into bed with us. She breastfeeds and then plays, giggling as she leans on me then falls into Eric’s arms. Peeper is drawn to the sounds of our laughter: As soon as she wakes, she peeks in her head—her sleep-mussed hair haloed around her face—and then crawls into bed with us. I will never, ever forget how those morning family snuggles make me feel. For those moments with the four of us in bed, everything is perfect and nothing can touch us.