Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Third's Fourth

My baby turned four yesterday. You would think that each year of seeing them grow up would make it a little easier, but it never does.

I didn’t cry over her this weekend.

I didn’t have time. And the magic hour between three and four is so gradual, you don’t even notice it’s happening- that true change from a toddler to a child. When does it happen? In the dead of night, while she’s sleeping? Do her dreams change from images and impressions to concrete stories of princesses and friends? Does it happen during the day, while she prances around pretending, while she’s learning to write her name and draw a dog? The answers to those questions, I don’t know. I only know it’s happened before my eyes, and my very last baby is no longer a baby. The realization has struck me hard over the past few weeks: noticing her lengthening limbs, the faded bruises all over her bony shins the same as mine were. Her knobby knees. The thinning in her cheeks, the way she moves her head and hands while she talks. The way she looks me in the eye while we’re having a conversation instead of wandering around distractedly.
I’ll miss her. My last little baby that I never asked for, and God gave her to me anyway; knowing I needed her. Someone told me a few weeks ago that they’ve always heard the third child is magic. That’s what my Atleigh is. Magic, pure and simple. She’s the purest form of magic, in that she is a gift that was so unexpected, so completely outside of the box, that she had to be everything I wanted before I even knew I wanted it. And so He handed her to me, the tiniest gift imaginable, with the biggest personality I’ve ever seen. He handed her to me, trusting that I would love her, rejoice over her, laugh with her, weep over her, pour my heart’s blood into her, just as I have with all of my children. Just as He has for me.

And so, happy fourth, littlest. I’m crying over you now.

Here are some photos I took of Atleigh for her birthday- I'm trying to make it a practice to do a special shoot with each one of my kids on their special day. Atleigh's party theme this year was Lalaloopsy, so, as you can see, we totally went for it.

Atleigh's made quite a few appearances on What If I Said. You can read more about her here:

On Raising Grace-Challenged Daughters
Terrible, Terrible, Terrible
A Happy "Accident"
Our Many Little Days

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