January 30, 2012

Dear Charlie,

Today, you turned four years old. Four. I think I’m finally getting used to the notion that having a baby makes time seem to float away like fairy dust leaving tiny sparkles behind in the wake of each phase. A glimmer to replace the time spent eager for you to take your first steps and call me Mommy; a shimmer left for the moments I spent wondering when I could finally stop buying diapers; a speck of light for the nights I hoped you would learn to sleep in your own bed. And so the trail goes. And now you are four.

Even though you have been a Daddy’s Girl since infancy—because Lordy, does that man love you—I could never for a minute doubt that you are mine. You are tentative and shy in new situations and with new people, and you take a long time to warm up. But when you are you—completely uninhibited and happy and comfortable you—you are full of whimsy and giggles and silliness and love. You make up stories. You play with your dolls using different voices. You dance. You make up songs.

One of my favorite memories of you this year is when you got to open an early Christmas gift at Nonnie’s house—it was a guitar with a working microphone. We pulled it out of the box, and you immediately began to serenade us all with “Jingle Bell Rock” and other songs you were learning for your school’s Christmas concert. Of course, at the concert itself, singing with your classmates in front of all the parents, you were reserved and shy while you sang; but in front of your family, you were a ham.

We’ve had more change this year, but for the good. We moved into a new rental home this year—the first home of our own in New Jersey.  We got to spend most of the summer having fun in the playground and swimming in the community pool at the end of our street.  You love the water but are afraid of it, too. It took you all summer to work up the courage to jump in by yourself, even with me there to catch you. You’re not a girl who can be pushed to move faster. You do things in your own time, on your own terms.

You began a new school, and when I finally had to start a new full time job, it broke my heart to have to bring you to pre-school all day every day, even though I knew you would be fine and probably even benefit from it. You started to learn your numbers and letters and have struggled a bit with that, mostly because, like your mother, you’re not quite sure how to handle frustration, and sometimes choose to simply shut down.  But together, we’re working on that one.  Of course the first letter you really learned was “C” and you love to say, “C starts with me!”  And now you know all the letters in your name and get so excited when you recognize them.

Yes, you’ve been such a little mirror for me this year, and you teach me so much about myself and about how to be a mother. In the way you hate to disappoint. In the way you want to know that you are safe. In the way you love and want to know that you are loved in return. In the way you want so much from the world and get frustrated when your arms aren’t big enough to hold it all at once.

Sometimes you sigh and say, “Mom, I really love you.” And I know that you mean it.

Mornings are still my favorite time with you.  It’s tough getting you up on the weekdays for school because you still go to bed too late (and would rather someone sleep with you). But there’s just something about playful snuggling with you when the sun comes up that makes the perfect start to my days. I wonder when you are older if you’ll remember how I sing to you to wake you up. How I pretend to eat your nose and your ears and you laugh and say, “Hey give those back!” And then you lift up my shirt so you can pretend to retrieve them from my belly.  And then you steal my nose. Usually, you’re nice enough to give it back before I bring you downstairs and Daddy gets you breakfast.

You’re a girly girl and insist on wearing skirts and dresses. You only wear pants when I force you to. Purple is your favorite color hands down, and when we went shopping for your birthday dress, well, naturally, it had to be purple. You’re better about letting me put your hair in ponytails now that we’ve added ribbons to the mix.  Almost every day when we come home from school, you run to your playroom, strip out of your “real” clothes and put on dress-up clothes. In much the same way I come home and peel off my work clothes to put on sweats, play clothes are your idea of comfortable. You have a fairy costume, a Daphne (of Scooby Doo fame) dress, an array of princess costumes, and a few other random pieces of costumes. I love to see the combination you put on, because it’s rarely the same thing twice.

The princess phase kicked into high gear this year, and you now have all the princess dolls in two different sizes. But you have eclectic tastes and still love the monster movies Daddy shows you. You love the Wizard of Oz, and recently, you’ve really taken to Bat Girl from the original Batman television show that Daddy also shows you. You asked Santa for two things this year: a castle and a coffin. I had to tell you to be sure to tell Santa the coffin was for your Dracula doll you got for Halloween, and luckily Santa was a good sport! He brought you both.

You really understood the whole Santa thing this year. And you got what it means to have a birthday. You tell me how you are a “big gore” now and I know it’s true.  Another year has come and gone. Sparkles and glimmers of those baby and toddler years float behind you; new milestones and wonders and worries take their place. As mother, I’m getting used to that.

But the time warp aside, what I still haven’t gotten used to is how I fall in love with you all over again every time I look at you or hear your voice. Every. Time. It’s not that I love you more each day because I can’t love you more, and I can’t love you less. But every day my heart is reminded just how full it is with that love, and it’s startling. I love that.

I really love you, Charlie. Happy Birthday.





Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Kelly Stevens


  1. Lisa Kelly says:

    Beautiful sums it up!


  2. Irene Landon says:

    what a wonderful commentary for her to have.


Leave a Reply