My very first girl turned 4 today. How can this be? Wasn't it just yesterday that I wrote this?
As a baby and toddler, little Cassi Rose was spunky, vocal, expressive, and strong-willed. But now as a 4-year old, she still knows her own mind, still expresses herself very well, still has a lot of spunk and no fear, but is showing a much softer side. As a baby she hated to cuddle. But now she loves for me to rock her while I sing a lullaby to her. She used to scream for attention, now she asks me sweetly for it and will often times forego attention if it means she can help her little sister or follow her big brother's leading.
Besides playing dress-up, her favorite things to play are "doctor" and building "forts" with blankets in our family room. Playing doctor gives her so much joy because she gets to help people who are sick. Building a fort is exciting to her because she can create her own little space. And, of course, dress-up is special because what little girl doesn't want to look like a princess?
Over the past few weeks I've been realizing that Cassi really loves school and that I should cultivate her enthusiasm for it more. We've incorporated more aspects of her schooling and also had CJ help her when he can since she looks up to him and responds to him so well. Her mind is like a sponge - she is absorbing everything so fast!
Chris took her out to breakfast this morning as part of her Birthday treats--during which time he asked her if she knew how to spell her name. She replied, "Yes. It is C-Q-S-S-I." Chris questioned her about the 'Q' to which she explained to him that "Mommy's A's look like Q's!" I guess she has been learning more than I even realized--I better write neater for her!
In addition to learning so much recently, she has also become a more nurturing big sister to Capri. If Capri falls, she tries to console Capri. If Capri is hungry or thirsty, she will get Capri's sippy cup or a snack. And with big brother's good influence, she is getting better at picking up after not only herself, but also after her little sister. I know she is going to make little Cecily an amazing big sister!
When I found out I was having my first little girl, I imagined what she would look like. What she would be like. And what relationship she and I would have. Of course we will be best friends. My Mom and I are. I hoped she would look like me - not because I think I'm beautiful, but because I want her to look like she belongs to me and is a part of me. I hoped she would be like me, because I like who I am and hope she has my strong personality that I admire in myself.
As she has changed in these four years and I don't see a strong resemblance between her and myself, I've realized that I don't need her to look anything like me. All that matters is how much I love her, how responsible I feel for her, and how privileged I am to be able to care for her. She doesn't really belong to me anyway - she is God's child that I am blessed to help care for for a short time.
And as she has changed in the past 4 years I have noticed that her personality isn't like mine as I had originally hoped. She is softer, sweeter, and a little more sensitive. I am so glad she still has a lot of strength in her personality, but I am loving how she is becoming her own person. How despite of me, she is learning how to be kind and gracious and gentle.
But the best part is that I don't ever worry that we won't be best friends. I know we will be best friends. We might argue. We might struggle through some misunderstandings. She might be disobedient. But I will always love her and I will always be her friend. I will stand by her no matter what. If she makes a mistake, I will not leave her. If she rejects me, I will still love her. If she falls, I will forgive her. There is so much peace in unconditional love and I trust that it will win out through whatever canyons and hills we have to cross and climb over the years.
The whole family (all of our extended family as well) made Cassi's day super special. She was old enough to appreciate every little detail and she went to sleep tonight a very happy little girl.
As I was cleaning up after the party washing some dishes, she came up to me, threw her arms around my legs and looked adoringly up at me. I stopped for a moment, struck by her sweet face. She said, "Mommy, thank you SO MUCH for everything! I loved it all!" Her gratefulness meant more to me than she will ever know. I wish I could have given her more. I wanted to lasso the moon for her in that moment.
I know she won't always be sweet. She isn't always so grateful. She has to pout to get her way sometimes. She manipulates her brother and tries to get him in trouble to get what she wants at times. Other times she doesn't do anything wrong, but she won't stop asking me for something or won't stop trying to climb up into my lap even though there isn't much room for her anymore...and I get annoyed with her.
Nothing is always perfect. But today was pretty perfect.
My little sweetheart is growing up and will have two younger siblings to care for very soon now. She has so much to learn and she will change so much yet. But how exciting to see how far we've come together - and how exciting to embrace what lies ahead.
Happy Birthday sweet little Cassandra! May you always shine with radiance and love for those around you. May you grow to be a Godly young woman. May you seek wisdom over riches, love over beauty, and kindness over happiness. May you always be grateful and find joy during sadness. May you learn to pick yourself up when you fall and keep your eyes focused on eternal riches for the rest of your life.
I love you. Happy Birthday.