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Mia, Age Three

Mia Bean,

You are three years old today. Three! And as I sit down to type this I am already in tears - not because I mourn the passing of your baby and toddler self, but because I am so gob smacked by the stunning little girl you have become. Sorry, big girl. You constantly remind me that you are a big girl, but just as often check to make sure you are still my baby. And I tell you that you will always be my baby, even though you can now dress yourself and climb ladders and tell stories with a beginning, middle, and end with characters and plot and dialog.

And oh, you are such a big girl. It seems some days that you can do anything. I am constantly amazed by how very capable you are. You can pour drinks and open doors and buckle yourself into your car seat. You can run the vacuum cleaner and brush your teeth and feed your brother his cereal. You can talk for hours and mostly make sense, you can explain your feelings, you can parrot my house rules back to me and remind me not to eat on the furniture or run on the stairs. You are, these last few months, an entire person who does not rely on your parents for your identity. You are no longer defined on any terms other than your own.

Your favorite things right now are many and varied. You like to dress yourself and then change your clothes, frequently without removing the first set of clothes. You like to play dollhouse and cars and color on your "weasel." You love pretend games, love to cook us meals in your kitchen or take your purse and shopping cart and go on errands for the things we tell you to buy. You enjoy puzzles and dancing and working in the yard and going out with Daddy every night after dinner to count your tomatoes. You love to read books, especially the new batch of library books we get every week. You love to sing, some days you seem to never stop and often sing yourself to sleep at naptime or at night.

You have your own friends now, not just the children of my friends. You are usually willing to play with anybody, but are very clear about your favorites. Your one true love right now is Carly. I think we could put you two together and leave the house for three hours and as long as you had access to snacks you would neither notice nor care.

Carly introduced you to princesses, and especially to Cinderella, and we now spend large chunks of each day playing princess. You love to put on your ball gown (really Mommy's night gown) and your tiara and glass slippers and whatever other accessories make you feel fabulous - generally my necklace or a bit of ribbon or maybe your goggles - and then we dance. When you get tired of dancing, you act out scenes from Cinderella, which you have seen only a few times but appear to have memorized. I resisted the princess thing as long as I could because I believe there are higher things to which you should aspire, but I also bought you a new princess dress and glass slippers for your birthday, because I believe you should be able to do the things you love, and you truly love it.

This was a major year for you, as I suppose they all are, but this one had a lot of external change. First we moved from Mia's Old House to Mia's New House, which you handled without so much as a peep. And then, Owen arrived on the scene. From the first, you have adored your brother. You love to hug and kiss him, to pat his head, to give him toys, to help change and dress and bathe him. As he has become more interactive, you have been thrilled to recognize his early attempts at speech and to figure out that you can do things that make him smile. You do sometimes ignore him when his presence doesn't suit your purposes, but overall you have made the transition from only to oldest, and told me last night that you didn't remember a time before Owen. That made me a little sad, because I treasure the time I had with just you, but also made me happy that he has become such a part of your life that you can no longer envision his absence.

This letter is the hardest so far to write, because listing your accomplishments and quirks no longer comes anywhere close to capturing the person you are. I can say that you still don't much care for food and live on eight or ten acceptable things, that you have taken to sleeping on the floor lately, that you love animals and invariably say "Awwww, look at the cute little" whatever when confronted with anything remotely fuzzy. But as long as I spend listing those things, they will never add up to you.

Instead, I'll take a crack at a few of your leading characteristics:

You are kind. Even when you are feeling grumpy or whiny of selfish, you cannot escape the basic kindness that is a major part of your personality. You are gentle. You are energetic. You are whip-smart and frequently outsmart both of your parents. You are curious. You are so brave. (When I tell you that I think you are brave, you often say "but Mama, I cried." I am trying to convince you that bravery doesn't mean not being afraid, it means doing it anyway and coming out the other end the same person as you went in.) You are loving.

Mia, you are beautiful and amazing and the joy of my life. You ask me often, after doing something or other, if I am proud of you, and I usually respond that I am always proud of you. And it always strikes me that I may never have spoken a truer sentence in all my life.

I am so very proud of you, Mia Bean. Happy Birthday.


Comments (44)

Happy Birthday, Mia. And thank you, Beth, for sharing such a beautiful, personal letter with your readers. This was particularly touching and it made me tear up, as Mia seems oh so much like my little Sweetie - smart, curious and brave. From one proud Mama to another - I wish you a Happy Mia's Birthday too.

Awww.....the years have really flown!
Happy Birthday to Mia, and happy Mother's Day to you Beth! :)

Happy Birthday, Mia! What an amazing and special girl you are (and great parents, too).

Happy Birthday Mia!
Wow, it's amazing, 3 all ready?

This was beautiful and and I can't believe how these three years have gone by so fast. It' been wonderful to watch her grow and become such a sweet little (big girl).

Hope her day is full of big girl fun!

This was such a sweet little to your sweet little girl :)
Happy Birthday to you both!

I said it to Chris, and I'll say it to you. It has been a beautiful, moving privilege to have been able to follow your journeys in parenting from before it even happened. You (both of you) blow my mind every day. Those are some charmed kids, and there's no doubt you both are the reason why.

(PS: that line about her not being able to remember a time before Owen? I TOTALLY remember when my first said that, and I remember how hard I cried that night. I get you there.)

Happy birthday to Mia, and happy birthday to Mia's Mom, who is just as totally flipping awesome as the girl who made her so.

(Yes, mushiest comment ever. Don't tease me too much for it, please.)

Happy 3rd Birthday Mia. Your mommy and daddy do us all a big favor, allowing us these glimpses of you.

This letter is so beautiful. What a wonderful daughter you have.

I started reading this blog (and catching up on the archives) when you were in the hospital having Mia. I found Chris' blog by accident and he had that beautiful picture of the two of you right before you had her. I haven't stopped reading either of you since, and I can't believe what a ride it's been!

Happy birthday to Mia! :)

she's such an awesome kid, Beth. seriously. happy birthday!

Happy birthday, kiddo.

Happy Birthday Mia!! Enjoy being a princess today and everyday.

Beth, Happy birth day to you also. You have a wonderful daughter and let her be herself...which is more than many parents do these days.

Happy B-day to the beautiful Mia. Michael not wait for your party this weekend.

And Beth, what a lovely tribute to your equally lovely daughter.

Awww, happy birthday mia. I love reading these because as I've mentioned before, my kiddo is just a few days behind (she'll be three on Sunday). It's an amazing time for kids, I think - this age - where they are their own little people - and they have thoughts that they verbalize and they tell it like it is, and man, it's fun, even when it's not.

*sniffle* Happy Birthday, Bean!

A beautiful and moving letter that Mia will one day cherish!

A beautiful and moving letter that Mia will one day cherish!

Happy birthday Mia! What a great present this letter is.

It's an amazing age, this tranformation into 'big' little person.

It's a lovely letter; you've captured so much!

Happy Birthday, Big Girl.

I can't believe she's already 3! She's grown up so fast. Happy birthday, Mia!

Happy Birthday, Mia! Hope your day is full of good princesses and yummy treats.

Thanks for sharing such a sweet letter, Beth. I'm sure she'll treasure it in the years to come.

Lovely. Just lovely. I am all teary now and I have to go into a meeting! That will stop me from reading your blogs just before I have to be all work and proper like! Congratulations to you and Chris and of course Mia (and Owen!). I hope she had a great day. She is ALL she is because of you two. Such great parents. Well done and thanks for sharing with us all.

Happy BIrthday Princess Mia, sweet baby girl!

Happy Birthday to my dearest Cyber Grand daughter! I hope the day was happy and bright!

Happiest of birthdays to Mia! You and Chris both have a lot to be proud of.

happy birthday sweet mia! :)

and thank you for sharing such a touching and beautiful letter.

I can't believe that Mia is 3 years old! I started reading your blog a month before she was born. Time really flies...

Happy Happy Birthday Mia.

What a wonderful letter to your gorgeous kind daughter. :)

How quick Miss Mia has grown. I hope her birthday is wonderful and that she enjoys each minute.

And Beth? Thanks for letting us watch her grow. I remember when she was a very tiny thing wrapped in in a huge wad of blanket. I remember the first time you posted video of her giggling, and I found myself giggling with delight right along with her. I loved when you asked her to say words, when she first appeared in her pink leotard and the thousands of other things in between.

It's privilege to have been invited to share these memories with you.

hb, Mia. I remember when your mom announced you were breech and now you're 3. Imagine that.

Happy, Happy Birthday Sweet Mia! What a wonderful little girl.

Your letter is beautiful. I love what you are teaching her about bravery -- so incredibly true, and oh what a better and safer world it would be if everyone understood that lesson.

you and chris have such a way with words when it comes to describing mia and owen. i love it. happy birthday, mia!

beth, that was beautiful. happy birthday mia!

Now I'm crying, too! Happy birthday to Mia! She sounds ridiculously enchanting...just like a true princess. :)

I must say...I cry too much reading these letters....thank you so much for allowing me to witness the beauty of your children. I can't believe it has been over three years since I stumbled upon your blog...I know I don't comment often but I wanted to wish Mia a very happy birthday and thank you again for letting me have the experience of raising children vicariously through you. thanks again

Oh, that was lovely! I hope Mia had a very happy birthday.

She's a tremendous kid, and couldn't have a better mom. Congrats to you, and happy b-day to Mia.

What a beautiful post! I hope to someday have a daughter as lovely as Mia. Thanks for sharing the joy of her with all of us.

Oh my goodness Happy Birthday!!! Thank you so much for sharing.

I'm a day late over here! But Happy Birthday, Mia!

I was reading Chris' site yesterday and The Swimmy leaned over and asked what was up. I told her it was Mia's birthday and she squealed, "MiaBEAN?!" ;)

The ages of 3-7 are magical - enjoy the ride.

Happy birthday Mia!

We just had an eleventh around never gets easier ;) Happy Birthday Mia, and Happy Birth Day to you, Mama! She made you what you are :)

Three is such a big milestone, I feel. You go from toddler/baby to little girl and this is what it's like until you're 10/11. After that, of course, it is, as you Americans say, a whole other ball game. Happy birthday, lovely Mia.

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