“This big!!!” is how Eliza describes herself now-a-days as she stretches her arms high into the sky. Make no mistake, being three is big. It may just be bigger for me than it is for her because, after all, it is hard to believe that my baby is three.
We celebrated Sophia’s fourth birthday today. Four. I find it hard to believe that she’s been in our lives for that long and it is difficult to remember what life was like before her.
Sophia is not an easy child. But as we all know, in life things that are easy don’t give you profound pleasure or joy. And Sophia does. Her every milestone feels well-earned, almost deserved, and sweet like berries at their summer peak. The best thing about Sophia isn’t her blue eyes or beautiful smile, or even her kindness. It is her ability to teach me life lessons and remind me what is truly important. I’m forever grateful for my lessons and for having her in my life. I promise to honor my end of the bargain, to be there. For now, “there” is at pre-school, but as she grows older, “there” will no longer imply a physical but an emotional state.
Thank you cards are sprawled on my desk waiting to capture our sincere gratitude for the friends and family who came out to celebrate Eliza’s birthday. Eliza loves every single gift she was showered with. We tried our best to find a home for each new item in our compact play area including this:
This chair, not the dolly, though we love the dolly, too. This chair, to us, is extra-ordinarily special. It is special because it was hand-painted by our nephew Alex especially for Eliza on the occasion of her 1st birthday. We seem to have started a tradition in our family where the girls receive a hand-made piece for their first birthday. My father made a doll’s bed for Sophia. My sister added to the already-special piece by hand-making all the bedding including the two-tone pillow cases and a real quilt.
When I really think about it, the doll’s bed (sitting sadly in our storage) and this beautiful chair are just things. Many kids have little beds for their dolls and chairs, but these were made for our kids—someone took the time to think about the girls, spent hours designing, polishing, painting, and sewing something that will be used time and again. This chair will stand the test of time; It will be with Eliza (and Sophia) as they grow up together and, one day, they will pass it on to be used by their kids, and their kids’ kids. More than that, they will pass on not just the item, but the story and lesson that goes on with it. Being an aunt or a cousin isn’t just about the label. It is about the relationship you choose to have with your cousins or nieces and the time and effort you invest in being with them. Little she may be, but she knows she is loved—there is no other way to validate her knowledge than the wide smiles she gives to those who surround her (with love).
I am blessed to have a nephew who values the importance of family and a sister (and brother-in-law) who have cultivated this in him. The chair, the chair is beautiful.