Yesterday, Chica turned 5.
5. As in five years old. As in she has existed and roamed on this earth for 365 days, 5 times.
How did this happen?
I remember when she was born. And I can hazily recall those first few months of joy and despair, wanting them to pass quickly because they were hard while trying not to wish time away. I knew she would grow up fast (at least, that's what people kept telling me), and that I needed to enjoy this time. Except, I didn't really enjoy that time, as I was learning that for some, love grows over time instead of all at once.
I remember during those fragile newborn months I would think about how different things would be when she was bigger: when she could smile, when she could talk, when she could walk, when she slept better. And over time, slowly but surely, she did those things. And in each of those stages, I found new strength in my parenting ability, as well as new challenges with new skills and new seasons of her life.
And suddenly, just like that, she's 5.
She can tell jokes, and she is working hard to learn how to read. She loves having us read her Junie B. Jones books, and we giggle together at all the funny parts. She is full of energy, and says she wants to start running with me. For Halloween, she is ecstatic over being a cheerleader.
And suddenly, just like that, she isn't the squishy, cooing (and crying) baby that once fit perfectly in my arms. She's more than half my height, and when she sits in my lap it's comical, like when Scooby Doo jumps into the lap of Shaggy. She's full of new skills and knowledge. Her vocabulary often surprises me. When did she learn these things?
And suddenly, just like that, she isn't a baby.
She's a big girl.
In 3 weeks she'll be stepping onto a school bus and spending all day at kindergarten learning and laughing and playing and being challenged. I'm simultaneously excited for her to begin this new adventure in her life and panicking over her slipping away from me.
I love this.
I hate this.
I already miss her.
A few nights ago, we went to a local park for an early birthday celebration. She asked if I wanted to swing with her, so we picked two adjacent swings and hopped onto the shiny plastic seats next to one another. I started pumping my legs, waiting for the moment she'd ask me to give her a starting push. But the request never came. Because when I glanced over to her, she was following my lead and pumping her legs. Higher, higher, higher, until she was, for the first time, swinging all by herself.
For the first time, she didn't need me to gently press into her back over and over to keep her going. She was doing it all by herself. And inside I cried a bit over her independence and how proud of her I was.
When did this happen?