Ethan was never one of those overtly independent kids. He was always the child tucked behind my knees, chubby fingers gripped firmly onto my clothing. "Come with me, mommy," if a child asked him to play at the park. "It won't be scary, right, mommy? Maybe only a little scary? But there's nothing to worry about. Right, mommy? Right?" With his third birthday came the tiniest streak of independence, one he keeps dusting off regularly so that glimmers of it appear exposed to the world. A little bit braver. A little bit more curious. A little bit more in tune with his confidence and abilities and the notion that mommy is never too far behind. With his third birthday came the likelihood that, 8 times out of 10, maybe, Ethan would answer you if you asked him his name.
With his third birthday came the "I want to do it myself, mommy" that fills me with both pride and sadness. Pride in his confidence and development and, yet, sadness because I fall into the ol' mommy trap of thinking he doesn't need me anymore. "Myself. I can do it all by myself, mommy. Let me do it. I want to help."
It's moving to the side and letting his capable hands take over, sloshing water onto the floor as he gulps it down without a straw. It's watching gobs of paint splatter on the floor as he struggles to screw the lids back on his paints, biting his bottom lip with determination. It's waiting patiently, armed with a hug and reassurance when the inevitable "I can't do it, mommy. I just can't do it myself" rears it's head. It's taking two steps back as he pushes his way into the bathroom and turns the bathtub on. "Make sure the hole on the floor of the tub is closed, mommy. I'll do it."
Age three. My home has never been messier. My mind and body have never been more depleted by the end of the day. My 'fridge has never emptied so quickly.
My heart has never been more full.