Gifts for Dad ➔

This is 3.

It’s your first independent swimming lessons, without me in the pool, your swimming teacher telling me you don’t need me in there anymore.

It’s you going up into the “big kids” room at kindy, smiling and laughing as you run off to join your friends. You used to need me to stay until you’d settled in to the day, now you don’t.

It’s you using the toilet by yourself, getting yourself dressed, and playing happily and independently.

I was so looking forward to this stuff, in the exhaustion and craziness of the newborn and toddler years—but sometimes, I miss you needing me so much.

And then, at night, after the sun has set, your teeth are clean, and you have chosen your bedtime story, I hear your sweet, small voice call out, “Mommy! I need you!” and my heart smiles—because I need you, too.

This is 3.

It’s full of big feelings, and big ways of displaying them.

It’s tears and tantrums and a lot of nos.

It’s loud, busy and constant.

It’s guiding and teaching, and reminding.

It’s developing preferences, strong ones, and a strong will to match.

It’s full of big feelings, and small, sweet ways of showing them, too.

It’s full of snuggles, and kisses, and hand-holding.

It’s just being together, while enjoying the simple things in life.

It’s loving, encouraging and restoring.

It’s developing a personality, a sense of humour, and a vocabulary.

You and I can talk to each other now! We have real conversations, and (most of the time) we understand each other. You played a joke on me yesterday. You knew I was so excited about the real raspberry jam I’d made, and given you for breakfast. You took a bite and grinned at me. “Yucky!” you said, poking out your tongue in disgust, before dissolving into giggles and shouting, “Just tricking you, Mommy!” I thought, kid, you are actually funny. I’m gonna like hanging out with you.

This is 3.

Sometimes it’s a grind.

Sometimes we don’t understand each other, and both of us get so frustrated.

Sometimes we do understand each other, and we get so frustrated.

Sometimes you don’t understand why I say no, or why I need to go to work, or why I need you to hurry.

Sometimes I don’t understand why my message hasn’t sunk in after I’ve repeated it 15 times, yet you respond right away when you hear Rider summon the Paw Patrol: “Mommy, it’s an emergency! Rider needs me!” Perhaps I need to buy you a Pup Pad.

This is 3.

Mostly, it’s delightful.

I’m getting to know you in a whole new way.

You are becoming your own person.

You are gentle, and hilarious, and energetic, and sweet, and caring, and you love animals, trains and your family and friends.

You are starting to make real friends.

You have hobbies, and favorite TV shows.

You have commitments, like swimming lessons and birthday parties.

You have a life, and you delight in the everyday moments and simple pleasures that come with that.

You are happy, and so am I. (It doesn’t hurt that we’re both finally getting some sleep).

I couldn’t be prouder of the person you are becoming, Mr. Three.

This is 3—and I love it.

You may also like:

The Secret No One Told Me About the Toddler Years is How Much I Could Absolutely Love Them

So God Made a Toddler

Three-Year-Olds are Wonderfully Odd Little Creatures

Sally Shepherd

Sally Shepherd is a clinical psychologist, writer and mother. She has a passion for helping new parents adjust to parenthood, and for helping families live their best lives together.  

There’s Just Something about a 4-Year-Old

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
4 year old girl smiling outside

There’s just something about a 4-year-old. The way their bubbly laughs and sweet little faces still have some traces of babyhood while they’re transforming into more and more of their own unique person right before your eyes.  The way they ask questions about everything under the sun, listen wide-eyed to your clumsy answers, and believe every single word you say. It’s so innocent (and scary) the way they believe absolutely anything you tell them—just because you’re “mommy.”  The way their still-a-little-chubby hand finds yours. And the way they still come running to you for a hug and kiss when they’re hurt. Or...

Keep Reading

Dear Preschool Teachers, I’m Going to Miss You So Much

In: Child, Motherhood
preschool teacher sitting with kids on her lap

Dear preschool teachers, There’s just no other way to say this— I’m going to miss you so much. You are the first adults outside of our family to spend your days with my children, and watching your relationships grow and develop this year has been the most bittersweet privilege. I’m going to miss the bright smiles that light up your faces every time my kids come bounding toward you on good days, and how tenderly you hold their little hands and guide them away from me on the tough ones. RELATED: Dear Preschool Graduate, I’m So Proud of You I’m...

Keep Reading

You’re Graduating From Kindergarten and the First Part of Your Life

In: Child, Motherhood
Mother, father, and little boy in graduation gown, color photo

To my little graduate:  I’m so proud of you. I used to think graduation ceremonies at this age were just a cute, end-of-the-year celebration. Now I see how much they really represent. I watched you in amazement this year. I saw all of your hard work. Not just academically but socially and emotionally as well. You learned to make friends without me there. You learned how to make your place in the world. You have learned to deal with disappointment, stand up for yourself, and the awkwardness of not being friends with everyone. You dealt with teasing because of your...

Keep Reading

He’s Outgrowing My Lap But He’ll Never Outgrow My Heart

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood

He’s five now—my baby, the third of my three children. I feel like I’ve taken the time to enjoy each stage, but no matter how much I try to savor, it still seems to go too fast. Like grains of sand slipping through my fingers—if I try to hold on too tightly, the years just seem to escape faster. We were sitting in church this morning. He had asked to sit in church with mom and dad instead of going to children’s Sunday school. And we let him. He’s gone from a squirmy toddler to a little boy who can...

Keep Reading

Dear Son, Don’t Ever Lose Your Helping Heart

In: Child, Kids
Young boy carrying two gallons of milk, color photo

When you carried two gallons of milk on our way out the door at Aldi, I smiled. You insisted to take them from my hands. You’re growing out of your shoes and shirts, and my prayer has always been that you’ll reach your full potential as a young boy growing into a young man.  You’ve always had a drive inside you that is seen big on the soccer field, and I pray you’ll always desire to work hard and serve strong wherever you are. RELATED: Let Us Raise Boys Who Have Respect Running Through Their Veins I pray you’ll work...

Keep Reading

9 is Changing Right Before My Eyes

In: Child, Tween
Girl sitting in car holding stuffed animal, color photo

“You are officially tall enough to ride without a booster seat,” our pediatrician tells my daughter after reviewing her measurements. It was her 9-year check-up, and she’d grown three inches in a year, landing at the 96th percentile for her age. She’d likely been tall enough for months, but I insisted we wait for her doctor’s confirmation, comforted by the imminent discussion on sitting safely sans booster. My girl gleefully melts into the car’s fabric and buckles her seatbelt, flashing a smile that showcases an assortment of adult and baby teeth. Reality hits me like an airbag in the face:...

Keep Reading

Goodbye To the Preschool Years

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Mother smiling with giggling preschool daughter, color photo

For me, personally, I feel as though this is the first gut-wrenching string I’m letting go of with my little girl.  Although when she started preschool I felt nervous and I missed her like mad, I knew I still had two weekdays with her as well as the weekend. It has been perfect—freedom and growth while at preschool—but still time for us.  School is on the horizon. The year of starting school has come quicker than I was prepared for. It has literally flashed before my eyes.  I have spent every day with my girls since they were born. Every...

Keep Reading

Don’t Ever Lose Your Sparkle, My Child

In: Child, Motherhood
Smiling little girl

I wish I could freeze this time, right where we are now. Right in this moment. Nothing is more bittersweet than seeing you grow.  People say time flies, and I didn’t really know how much it did fly until I had you. Until I held you in my arms for the very first time.  Since then, I have watched a little girl grow, right before my eyes. I watched her first steps. I heard her first words. I wiped her first tears. I held her hand the very first time. She grew. She keeps on growing. I see her smile...

Keep Reading

Dear Son, Will I Know You Tomorrow?

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Smiling boy

When you were a newborn, I knew you as well as it’s possible to know another human being. I was your everything; you were mine. I knew what each cry, each smile, each grasp intended. I anticipated your spit-up, your hunger, your fatigue. You grew into infancy, and we remained nearly as intimate: your laughs, your budding motor skills, and your newfound interest in toys were my complete delight. I was there with my camera to document the first time you sat up and played with toys on your own. I knew every single food you had eaten and its...

Keep Reading

Down Syndrome Does Not Define Her

In: Child, Motherhood
Infant in hospital bed, smiling, color photo

Riley’s story starts April 23, 2019. We had opted to get the 3-month scan and NIPT test with our third pregnancy just for the extra ultrasound. The tech brought in the maternal fetal medicine doctor, and he pointed out that there was an increased nuchal translucency measurement and that it was common with different trisomies. He suggested we have the materNit21 test to see which specific trisomy we were at high risk for. We opted for it. I got the call a few days later that the baby was at high risk for trisomy 21, otherwise known as Down syndrome....

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections