Ella stood by the window, doing nothing in particular, as we prepared to head out for the zoo. Her tall lean frame almost made her seem like a different person than the little girl I thought I knew. The way she carried herself, how she held conversations with us, gave me glimpses into how she viewed herself. I could tell she was changing. She was growing up.
I remember it like yesterday how I playfully asked her if she was a big girl. She was so adamant stamping her foot and pounding her fist on an imaginary table. “No! I’m little, not big, just little.” She always responded like this whenever I teased her about getting older.
Today was different. I couldn’t help but ask, looking at her just standing there so tall in the kitchen. But a part of me was still shocked to hear her reply. I broke the silence, “Are you a big girl?” My heart cringed just a little bit.
That was it. No huge celebration, no excited jumping up and down like a silly little girl might do. A well thought out and rational response. She had been seeing herself differently for some time I suppose. Now I’m coming to see her that way, too.
This weekend we celebrate her 4th birthday. It’s hard to explain just how bittersweet every birthday is. Sometimes I’m sitting at my desk at work and my eyes wander over to the picture frames I have of my family and they fall on these two tiny bundles I’m holding in my arms close to my chest. I stare at the photo for a minute until my gaze is broken by a blink and almost as if the picture changed before my eyes I see the beaming eyes of my soon-to-be four year old daughter looking back at me. I’m so proud of the big girl she’s become.