I’m so proud of my girl! Taylor recently turned three years old and we had an amazing time celebrating her third birthday with family and friends. If I am being completely honest, this is the first of Taylor’s birthdays where I felt truly celebratory.
Taylor’s first birthday was not a particularly joyous time for me. Taylor’s delays were significant, and we did not have any answers as to why she was not reaching developmental milestones. We had been searching for answers for several months to no avail. At a time when most children would be making huge developmental leaps toward walking and talking, Taylor was developmentally more like a four or five-month old. It was concerning to me. I wanted to celebrate my girl’s big birthday so badly, but every time I thought about it, I was overcome with grief and sadness. The experience of chronic sorrow, which I wrote about two weeks ago in Loss of a Life Imagined: Grief and Chronic Sorrow, was at an all-time high for me. The birthday party was a more tangible symbol of how significantly different our life looked from what I had once expected and imagined it would be. And although last year was better….I still kept the celebration small and intimate and never fully felt the joy and celebration of my child’s birthday.
Taylor’s third birthday has been SO different.
Taylor’s birthday IS different. Our family’s situation is different. She needs help playing with her friends, she walks in a walker, she does not blow out her own candles (but her friends really enjoyed helping with this!), and she needs help opening her gifts.
I can choose to see all the negative in this situation, but I choose instead to see the ways she has grown and changed in a year, and it makes me so happy. Although the love for my child has always been there, I have truly learned how to see her and accept her for who she is, not what I thought she would be. She is a beautiful child of God with immeasurable gifts. I see how much joy she brings to the lives of others. She is loved and included. Her friends take care of her and play with her. While she is walking in her walker in the driveway, her friends ride on bikes and push cars. They help her open her gifts. She gets the blessing and excitement of 1000 wishes as the whole room helps to blow out her candles.
I am so proud of my sweet girl and all of her accomplishments. When I look back at pictures from Taylor’s second birthday, I see her progress and determination over the last year. At Taylor’s second birthday party, she sat on a tricycle and we pushed her around during her party. She did not enjoy standing on her feet and was nowhere close to mobility. She could not play purposefully with toys. She was nonverbal and it was very difficult to gauge how much she understood.
Yet, at Halloween, she stood up for the first time holding onto my hands (in her Wonder Woman costume….let that symbolism sit with you for a minute). She started taking steps while holding onto our hands around Christmas. In the Spring, she began imitating some of our movements and following simple commands. In the beginning of June, we received Taylor’s new walker and she took her first independent steps. She has had an eventful summer learning how to sit herself up from lying down, drinking from a sippy cup with no handles, motoring around in her walker, demonstrating her understanding of certain words, pulling to a stand from a sitting position and pulling to her knees from the floor. Beyond all of these achievements, she continues to be such a happy soul….a bringer of joy. She seems to know exactly how to make people smile.
She really is Wonder Woman as far as I’m concerned…..and I can’t help but celebrate HER.