This past year has been giggles and tendrils of silken, red, hair. Ava would run into a room to say something in her ‘silly voice,’ then run all the way back up the stairs to console her stuffed animals and proclaim, “Momma! You are my favorite!“  This was a year of potty training and explaining large concepts, to such a little face.

I walked in on her in her room this morning as she was explaining to her stuffed animals. “You don’t have a daddy. He’s dead or something.” There was a long pause and I wondered if I’d have to go in and we’d have another teaching moment about how some families have daddies, some have mommies, some have aunts or grandmas- but only the VERY special ones have the mommy that let’s her drink hot cocoa in the bathtub- (daddies just don’t understand that.)

After about five seconds after Piglet and Curious Georges’ father was pronounced deceased, there was some resemblance of a funeral because I heard her stating she needed to cover SparkleBear; then she firmly stated, “But you have a Momma and a Grandma, and a Papa, and a Derek and an Uncle Joe and Aunt Karla and FRIENDS who all love you very much!” In that moment I cried- not for what I had to explain to this child, but for what she understood so well.

We tell stories to our children to help them grasp the difficult topics in life. How do you explain to a four year old that a major piece of her dollhouse puzzle is missing? I made ‘us’ less about the loss and more about the additions. She always asks if other preschoolers from daycare can come home and live with us too. And that? Is the beauty of being three years old. Life is a party, and everyone loves you. Because- with big, brown, eyes like hers? The brilliance of her mind? It’s impossible not to fall in love with Ava-Madonna.

I tell you now, because in moments like this where all I feel is her all around: I cannot help but wonder where the time has gone. Four years ago, I put myself to bed in my parent’s basement and called the poor man I was seeing at the time, (who never should have agreed to date a hormonal, pregnant and emotional girl,) to say, “See you tomorrow.” I drove myself to the hospital and they induced labor and there I pushed and antagonized about whether or not I had made the right decision. All until I saw her face, then with her tiny elephant wrinkles and the way she looked into my soul, I knew: My love had come. If you saw the way she looked from my shoulder to the world, you would have agreed. She overtook the universe in that moment and we, ladies and gentlemen- have never been the same. I’m so proud to be her mother.

Happy Birthday, SunshineGirl.