Trick-or-treating, she ran up to my husband and said, "Dude, check it. Look at all my candy." What? I realize some--much--of this is due to her having two much older siblings. I know she picks up vocabulary and learns context from them...which is frightening in and of itself. Some of the stuff, however, is just Ella. Thinking things through, figuring out how to verbalize wants, or how to solicit laughter, or how to manipulate us (cough-Vern-cough).
Yesterday, she strolls into the kitchen and asks me, "Mom, what's for dinner?" She's 3. And she asks that question with the same tone and inflection as my twelve year old. The important thing to note is it wasn't Mommy, can I have snack, or Mommy, I'm hungry. It was MOM. What's for dinner? This delivers the same sort of pride/sting that comes when she says No, I can do it myself to anything I'm trying to help her do. I'm proud of her independence and her ability, but I still want her to need me. And I know she does... and will... but it's changing. And it will keep changing.
It seems like just last week I was dealing with this:
I think about how quickly Zack and Ryan left their lil' guy days behind. You'd think it'd be more gradual--and some of it is. But I swear, it was like one day they were talking in toddler-muppet-sounding voices, and the next day they were missing teeth and calling me mom (not mommy), and then they were in middle school. It was like that.
And all the while, I'm changing, too. No longer the young, inexperienced, thinks she has it all figured out mother. Thank God! Now, I'm the older, experienced, knows she doesn't have a clue most days but is happy to keep learning mother. And I think we are all the better for it.
Dude, check it. Today is my mother's birthday. And tomorrow my little girl will be married and living away and not need me so much. And I'm in the middle. Still learning and growing, with a road map of all of my lessons etching their way into my face, starting with my eyes, which are pleading to her quietly, Linger a little longer, Ella, but without limitation. Just a few more moments to savor your silliness, your smallness, your sassiness as you create the foundation to who you will become, and before we move on to all of the wonderful things in store in the next chapter.