Come Sunday morning, the Bear will be 4 which means, by nature, that she'll never again be 3. I said this out loud to her at bedtime tonight, something like "this is the last time you'll go to sleep as a 3 year old" and I almost started ballin' my eyes out. This is not a new emotion for parents, for sure - the heart breaking understanding in those reflective moments brought to the forefront by a casual glance, a phrase spoken by a child, or a comment like this - that your little girl is, little by little, not so little anymore. Tears want so badly to fall from my eyes as I internalize the words I just typed.
She ensures me that she will always be my baby girl, even as she puts it, when she is 27. I want to freeze her right then, with that loving "don't worry Daddy, I love you" look on her face and tone in her sweet voice. I can't help but remember that I told my Dad I would stay 6 years old forever. I imagine he looked at me, in awe of my wide-eyed innocence and ability to love so simply and unconditionally, a lot like I look at the Bear.
Happy Birthday Sweetie...may I always be worthy of your beautiful, awesome love.