Dear little girls,
Three years old. I must admit that your third birthday past virtually unnoticed; we moved house two days later, and three years to the minute of your birth I was already in the office for the day, doing my best to work ahead in preparation for taking a few days off for the move, and your mummy was packing up the kitchen, one of the last of the rooms to tackle. I didn’t think hard about that day; about how I felt on the morning of your birth, consumed with awe and wonder and the niggling fear of a near-miss. Nor about how we spent our first night apart; how I slept alone in a private room, my consultant bustling and jolly and kind, midwives patient, Bounty saleswoman frankly disapproving: “But where is your baby?” We had a tricky start.
You were the most beautiful babies. You had such distinctive characters from the beginning: Embla, you reminded us of one of those pygmy monkeys. You were such a tiny thing, your fingers curled around your mummy’s collar. And Olympia, such a fierce little person – you found peace when your skin was against my skin. And even at three, you both retain a little of that, you love all of your family but each of you finds comfort in your ‘own’ mother when you feel that the world is crumbling. We love you so much.
All of a sudden, the gap between you and your brothers has closed and you seem quite grown up – not toddlers at all but without a doubt preschool children. You love to go out and adamantly refuse to be left behind, waiting for me at the door with your shoes in your hands and your eyes bright with expectation. Olympia, when I leave for work in the morning you tell me “I want to come wif you”, you demand a second kiss, your arms tight and your breath soft on my neck. Embla, you don’t mind it terribly when I leave so long as you can be the one to shut the door! You don’t even wait for me to exit fully – the number of times that door has hit me on the way out…
Emmy, you were always the quiet one but all of a sudden you have found your roar! Nonetheless, the boys still treat Olympia as an equal and with you they are more gentle – sometimes Sasha feeds you his own food, from his own plate, an honour that he doesn’t bestow upon anybody else! Polly, you are a mercurial little thing: a quiet daydream, a loud tantrum when things don’t work out quite as you had hoped. Sometimes I worry that the world is a little too hard a place for you – but the others have all been on the ‘easy’ side of developmentally normal, so perhaps you are just providing some balance on the other side. Time will tell. You are a dear little person, but I do wish that you would introduce yourself to people with your name rather than answering exclusively to ‘the Poobum’.
Right now, you both love cats and cake and colouring. Embla, your favourite colour is pink and Olympia, you love purple and yellow. Both of you love water slides – Polly, you are entirely fearless and will throw yourself down anything after your brothers, Emmy, you are happy so long as you hold my hand. You both love ‘tinies’, little plastic figurines that you stash in your clenched fists, in pockets and bags. And speaking of pockets – checking that your outfit has pockets, Em, is the first thing that you do when we dress you. And you are awfully sad if it does not: “ME no pockets. Polly has pockets.”
Seaside life suits you. Embla, you have always gravitated to your mama but every morning you beg me to take you to the sea and when we make it to the water you take my hand and, with your jaw tightly clenched, you lead me into the waves. Olympia, you find the water ‘too wet’, and you alternate between collecting seashells and throwing almightly screaming tantrums at the water’s edge – you do not like me to go anywhere that you cannot follow.
This month you start nursery and you are so ready. You tell everybody you meet about it, and you wear your backpacks around the house in anticipation. It will be so good for you to have a place to go of your own – something that you don’t share with your older brothers or baby sister. I can’t wait to hear the stories about your day, for you to bring home pictures and make new little friends. You are growing into such wonderful people and I couldn’t be more proud of you, my sweet firstborn daughters.
All my love,