With big blue eyes and one missing tooth, she is a girl, no longer a baby. She is funny and loud and so excited about growing up. She is embracing her fifth birthday with joy and pride. She is especially interested in understanding how little she once was, now that she is, in her own words, so big.
“Mommy, do you remember when I was zero?” G asks, as I tuck her into bed for the night. I know she means when she was an infant; she was never a zero.
“Yes, when you were firstborn,” I say, smoothing her pale hair from her forehead.
“How big was I? Was I this big?” She holds her hands wide, stretched out almost as tall as she is now.
“No,” I reply, bringing her hands together to a space of about 21 inches. “You were this big.”
G thinks about this for a bit, but she is tired, so sleep pulls her in. I kiss her good night, and leave the room, turning down the light.
“Good night, baby.”
I’ve had 1,825 days of good mornings and good nights with her, and they have gone by so fast. I measure time now by the steps she takes, the new words she learns, and the questions she asks.
She woke up early this morning, slipping into my bed for a snuggle.
“Mommy!” she whispers. “Mommy, today I am five!”
I hold her close. “I know. Happy birthday!”
I softly sing her the Happy Birthday song. She is indeed happy, already dreaming of the perks of five: permission to swim in the big pool at the recreation center, an upcoming birthday party, and the start of kindergarten. She looks ahead. I, for this moment, look back. I see a small baby sleeping in her crib, a toddler taking her first steps and laughing at something funny her big brother did, and a preschooler learning to use scissors and playing dress up. I see a head full of curly hair that has now straightened out, I hear her first word (“dada”), and I remember the awful day when she broke her arm. But that is the past, and she has much ahead, with many good mornings and good nights.
Her brother reminds her that there may be presents for her birthday, and they are off, out of my bed, to search for the small pile I placed in our den last night. Soon, I am called to join them, to start the birthday celebration, to welcome five.