Today you are three. What a wonderful, crazy three years it has been with you. And I have loved every beautiful moment.
Between you and me, pal, this has been a weird three years. God has totally changed the trajectory of my life, and I’ve had to do a lot more praying and surrendering than I ever expected – which I think is exactly why God changed the trajectory of my life. Most of the changes have been hard and have required me to let go of a lot of expectations and pride, and have forced me to really look at myself and the kind of person I want to be in the world. And while I like the person these changes have sharpened me into, I’d be lying if I said I have enjoyed every minute of the process. Changing is often hard, and while it’s so good most of the time, it is not always a heck of a lot of fun.
That is, of course, except when it comes to you. Three years ago in the midst of all of the changes, I also became your aunt…and it has been the most fun.
There is nothing about you, kid, that I don’t adore. You are sweet and funny, and you love your people. You like to laugh, and you like to make your people laugh. I think because of that, you’re in the center of my best memories – stomping in snow piles, and splashing in puddles, and building forts out of the couch cushions; reading books, and throwing pom-poms, and watching Curious George on endless loop; eating chicken fingers and pizza and grapes, all dipped in ketchup.
I love getting hugged around the knees when I walk through the front door, and hugged around the neck when I leave. And I really love that sometimes you don’t want me to leave at all. I love when pull me into the living room just to sit on the floor next to you while you play with your toys. Because I love that that’s enough for you, just to have your people in your space. I love that at three years old that is a comfort to you. I love it because at thirty-one years old having you and your people in my space is a comfort to me.
For your birthday this year, I got you a book about a little blue truck that gets stuck in the mud and is pulled to safety by his little barnyard friends. I got it for you because it’s a sweet story, and because it’s a true one. I got it for you because even at three year old I think it’s important that you know that sometimes the only way you get un-stuck is when people love you enough to pull you out. And without a doubt, for decades now, that’s who your mom and dad have been for me. That’s who Mimi and Poppy have been, and Nana and Boppa, and Aunt Beth, and Aunt Amy and Uncle Mike and Abby, and Aunt Megan. They’re the friends who help me get un-stuck.
As you grow up, I pray that they’re the people who help you get un-stuck too. I pray that you see that in them – that they’re on your team, that they’re for you, and that this is true even when you find yourself in trouble; and that this doesn’t change when you’re a teenager or an adult. They’re people who hang in with unwavering support and love and grace. They love an awful lot like Jesus. There is nothing about your family that I don’t adore.
But, I also pray that you find some friends from other barnyards. For your family, I’m a little duck that wandered in under the fence twenty-years ago and liked their pond so much that I never left. Now, I think we all forget that it’s not really my pond because I’m just part of the flock. I pray you know what it’s like to experience this on your own – that you know what it’s like to just have friends who show up to help get you out of life’s messes; that you know what it’s like to have the line between friend and family get blurry; that maybe you share your pond with another little duck who needs a soft place to land; that maybe you find a pond that you can land in too.
Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself…
Because today, buddy, you are three. And you should be celebrated for all your three-year-oldness.
You should be celebrated today because you’ll only wear green shirts, and because you’re favorite toys are pom-poms and bubble wrap, and because you think Wall-E is the funniest movie ever. Because you want to sit on your mom’s lap and read books, and you think that makes for a pretty great fifteen minutes. Because you giggle so hard when your dad picks you up over his head and turns you upside down over his shoulder before dropping you onto the couch. Because you don’t want your hair washed, but you think it’s great when people sniff the back of your head when you get out of the bath tub and kiss your clean neck before you go to bed. Because you confuse your pronouns, but can say “pomegranate” like it’s no big thing. Because it makes you so happy to share food, especially when it’s a special treat like M&Ms or fruit snacks. Because you love your people so hard and so unashamedly.
Three is a very special age, and you are very special three-year-old.
Happy birthday, pal!
With all my love,