Three years ago (yesterday), I woke up in a strange house in a foreign neighborhood with a lot of baby stuff invading this unfamiliar space. Within a few hours I was pretty certain that our son's arrival into the world was imminent. Later that night, I circled the block trying to encourage my contractions, reflecting on how different the experience was than the expectations I created, how the houses I were walking by were not the ones I had pictured most of my pregnancy, how we wouldn't be bringing our child home to our house for months, and even then, it still was a different house, a different me.
It's amazing to me that three years have passed.
Kellen is no longer a baby.
He can spell his name, knows the alphabet, has a sense of humor. He has preferences (and makes them well known!). He has a personality and likes rules. He plays games and loves trucks and trains. He is his own person.
That's what I think the biggest change is about this age, the realization that our children are individuals, that while there still is attachment, they are no longer extensions of us in the same way they are when they are fully dependent upon us. Kellen goes to school, has friends, does work, expresses himself, all without me present. He has a life outside of me, a life that I can only know if he chooses to share it (and so far most of what he shares is the fact that he cried in his class that day, usually because I left). There is still some amount of knowing from being able to talk with other adults in his life, but it is still up to Kellen to share his own experiences. And this reliance on his telling of his life will happen from now on (and will hopefully be able to withhold from interjecting my own version of his experience on him). While the things I want for my son still matter (to me), he has choices and will exert his independence in ways that could change the course of his life.
I think this is a hard shift for a mother, especially when your children are still so young. We want to believe that we have more control over our kids' choices. But watching Kellen develop into his own person, his own strong-willed person, has made me realize that there is a process of letting go that happens far sooner than eighteen. And I hope I can be the kind of parent who can step back and support my son's (healthy) choices as he gets older, each year releasing a little more control.
Happy Birthday Kellen! May you have a year full of smiles and laughs and continue to grow and learn and become.