On Thursday you turned four years old. You have known for a while now that you will start Pre-K when you are four, so on that morning when Samaya went to get dressed for school, you promptly followed her. "Me too, right Mama? I have to get ready for school now, too. I'm four now."
And that is when you broke my heart a little bit. again. You do that rather frequently, and I think I finally realized why. I'm never prepared. I've known you your entire life. You lived inside of my life for nine months. But you, of all my children, are my greatest mystery. To the world, you are strong-willed and strong-mouthed and strong-armed. And even though this outer layer is paper thin, it is enough to fool even me. I know better, I do. I watch how when your little brother pulls your hair, you whip around in fury, arm cocked, and then melt into a puddle when you see him. Scratch at your surface, and a whole mess of raw, unfiltered love comes spilling out.*
The thing is, sometimes I forget to scratch. I see you hit your sister or wrench something out of your brother's hand and I see exactly and only this. On the days when I've had enough sleep though, remembered to say my prayers, and forgotten about the all-important to-do list, I might take a second look--and see something else. A stab at justice. An over-tired/ hungry child. A tiny person who is feeling disconnected from her loved ones.
These are the moments when I march you to your room and, instead of slamming the door, I follow you in, cover you in kisses and tickle you until you beg me to stop. That outer gritty layer? Dissolved beneath my very fingertips.
It's not that I am surprised by your goodness. Rather, I am repeatedly in awe of how good, how pure-hearted, how thoroughly honest you are. Just this week when I asked why you had hit your sister, you replied matter-of-factly, "I didn't hit her. I punched her. It's not the same thing."
You offer others your food even though you LOVE food. You take away Daddy's headaches with a gentle massage. You stop mid-tantrum to comfort someone else in distress. And you give killer hugs.
You carry that big heart always in front of you, looking for other hearts to love. Everything else is irrelevant. For weeks, I tried to coax you into telling me what you would like to do for your birthday. All I could get out of you was a trip to the Kittery Trading Post to see the taxidermy moose. (Unfairly, you are also the funniest person in the family. Samaya and I frequently wet our pants.) As your big day approached, you repeatedly exclaimed, "I'm so excited!" 'What part are you excited for?' I asked. "The birthday part," you answered with absolute incredulity.
Right. Of course. Life is about living. loving. Not about doing. And that is why you are my precious gift.
Happy birthday, Violet Olivia.
*How fitting that you were born just two days before Valentine's Day.