month forty-eight

Oh, Mary Virginia, where do I begin? I’ll begin by saying this: before I hit publish on this post, I’m going to read it and re-read it and then send it to my friend Candace to check for errors, because Mary Virginia, at age four, already corrects my grammar.

“Mommy. You don’t NEED to go inside, you WANT to go inside.”

She also calls me Amanda instead of Mommy, and she calls her father “Tom.” She does it, she says, because she is a real mommy.

She’s not just a real mommy, she’s a judge-y mom that offers advice when it’s not asked for. She gives me tips when I’m struggling with Thomas (Oh, Mommy, when my baby does that I just tell her no!) and when our nap time routine is dragging on she pokes her head in Thomas’s room to tell me her baby is already down for her nap. Thanks, Mary Virginia. Let me guess. Your daughter also respects you and eats her vegetables and DOESN’T CORRECT YOUR GRAMMAR.

When Mary Virginia reads that sentence she’s going to furrow her brow and say, “Well of course my children don’t correct my grammar. My grammar is always correct.”

This has been a big year for sweet Mary Virginia. Her sleep issues are almost completely ironed out, which is something I truly never thought would happen. Sometimes when I read things I wrote about her — starting at six months — I can feel my heart beating faster because the memory makes me anxious.

Mary has worked all year to step out of her comfort zone, to grow in independence. She is doing so at her own pace, taking it one step at a time — every preschool drop off, every introduction of a new friend, every trip down the slide is a new chance to trust, and learn.

She’s timid and hesitant, but she also surprises us all the time with boldness and confidence.

One thing that hasn’t changed is that Mary Virginia talks nonstop, and everything she says is hilarious. It is phenomenal to observe her language acquisition, as she tests out new words and phrases, like once when she said, “No doubt I was hungry!”

“THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS!” she screams when something doesn’t go her way.

Almost every conversation with Mary Virginia ends in laughter (me) or crying (her). Like the time we were playing salon and Mary Virginia was doing my hair and engaging me in small-talk, as hairdressers do.

“Do you have any kids?” she asked.

“Yes, I have three, two boys and a girl.”

“What’s your daughter’s name?”

I answered, “My daughter’s name is Mary.”

“Oh! What’s she like?”

“Well,” I started, “She’s beautiful.”

Mary Virginia instantly stopped, whipped her head around to face me, and said, “BUT I’M PRETTIER!”

Speaking of hair. Everywhere we go, people compliment Mary Virginia on her hair. It happens so much that she is used to it and almost expects it. “Did you hear what that lady said?” I once asked her after someone paid her a compliment. “Yes,” she sighed, almost bored. “She said she liked my hair.”

Mary Virginia loves playing with dolls, princesses, pretending to be a mommy, and spending hours accessorizing and packing her purse. She only wears dresses and skirts, as a rule. She never ever wears pants, not even when it’s 32 degrees outside and her preschool class goes out to play. When that happens, she whines until her saint of a teacher picks her up and holds her for all of recess. Mary Virginia is very, very particular about her clothes, which is why you see her wearing the same dress over and over and over. She has a full closet of comfortable, adorable dresses, but because the equation for comfort is above my pay grade, I can’t predict which dresses she’ll actually wear.

The battle over clothes is one I’ve decided to not fight. I’d like to say it’s because I want to encourage individuality and creativity in my daughter, but that’s not true. I would love to control what she wears. I cringe when I see how scruffy she looks. But years ago, when I decided I was going to fight the clothes battle, she has won. And it’s a title she owns.

Mary Virginia and I fight a lot of battles. I suppose that’s mother-daughter territory, especially when you’re both emotional, dramatic, and perfect . Regardless, her favorite thing to do is spend time with me.

Mary Virginia loves dolls, books, art, the color purple, and anything with sparkles. But her most favorite thing is being with Mommy. Every day I have to remind myself to hold her close, to shrug off chores, my Instagram feed, and my desire for alone time. In Mary Virginia, God has created a little girl who is smart, sensitive, imaginative, and understands the importance of relationship.

Dear Mary Virginia,

I love being your mom. You are so wonderful and delightful, creative and passionate. You feel deeply, and it’s something that I’m still learning to help you through. When I say I’m learning, I mean that truly. You’re teaching me so much. Thanks to you I know about Sofia the First, I know about curly hair, and I know a lot more about ducks. But you’re teaching me a bigger lesson about understanding, patience, and empathy. And empathy isn’t only important when it’s easy. In fact, it’s maybe most important when it’s hard, when it takes effort and sacrifice. Thanks for showing me that; I’m still learning.

One night, before bedtime you were having an emotional meltdown about something. A meltdown that followed and preceded another meltdown. You just needed to go to sleep but how is someone supposed to sleep when they’re crying so hard they can’t breathe?

“Mary Virginia,” I told you, sternly, “You cannot act like this. You are a big girl.”

“BUT MOMMY! I’m not much of a big girl! I’m little, too! I’m in-between little and big!”

In between little and big. What a perfect description of my little girl, who is growing bigger, but not so big that she doesn’t need to curl into her mommy’s lap and cry because it’s too cold to wear a skirt, or because your brother isn’t sharing, or for absolutely no reason at all.

I love you so much.



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