I went away for a few days and when I came back you were different. Not bigger. Well, maybe just a little. Not taller. No more then an inch anyway. Not older. How could you be, I was only gone for five nights. But different.
You were all those things already but I just couldn't see them with my arms wrapped around you day after day. Only when I blinked for a moment did my eyes readjust to see the girl you are.
Remember when you were my baby? I do. We brought you home from the hospital and I was terrified I was going to break you. I lay you against my chest, you head resting on my shoulder, and I worried about all the ways I could mess up your life or you could hate me even as I gazed lovingly at you. You were beautiful. People would stop me as I walked down the street just to tell me I had a beautiful baby. But I already knew. I knew as soon as I looked into those deep blues eyes that never seemed to close, not even to sleep. And why would they when there was so much life to be lived.
Remember when you were a toddler? You finally let go of the one finger you liked to clutch as you walked when you were fourteen months old. It was Thanksgiving weekend and I laughed so hard to see you walk; almost as much as I laughed when we taught you to crawl by moving a chocolate milkshake back and forth across the room. You went from crawling to walking to running. Usually with a smile on your face, except when you decided that a deep scowl would be more appropriate. But even that face made me laugh.
It is hard to believe that the boy is almost the same age you were when he was born. You seemed so old to me then. Now I look and you and I look at him and he seems so young. From the beginning you loved him like I hoped you would. Being a big sister can be hard sometimes, but I always think how lucky he is to have you. While I have seen you use your birth order to your advantage, you always look out for him. He repays you with complete and utter love. How lucky you are to have him.
Remember when you were a preschooler? I do. I am holding onto this last few moments as hard as I can. Kindergarten starts in a few weeks and while I anticipate that you will be nervous and scared those first few days, your excitement now is contagious. You make me wish I was four so I could take your hand and walk with you into your classroom and this new part of your life.
Instead I will watch from the front stoop as you climb the steps of the school bus and drive off without me. I will watch as you become bigger and taller and older. I will remember all those yous from before, the ones that you might want to dismiss as childish or silly as you get older. But those yous will be with me always. Even as you stand in front of me at four I still see my baby.