That may seem like an odd thing to say. After all, a girl is a girl from the moment her life begins. But, as a parent, have you ever had that moment when you look at your child (in this case, daughter) and think, "wow. She's not a baby. Not even a toddler. But a GIRL." I don't know if I'm making myself quite clear, but I'm sure that those of you who are parents know exactly what I'm talking about. It all of a sudden hits you that your baby is growing up and they seem so old and mature. This very thing has struck me about Emma lately. She turned 4 a couple weeks ago, and there is something about having a child who is 4. Three still seems like a toddler age, still young enough to be a baby in some ways. Four-- well, that is a whole different matter. Four is one year away from school! Only 12 years until they can drive!! That may be overreacting-- but you get my point. Four seems so grown up, so suddenly not like a baby at all. In Emma's case, I've noticed it most in the way she talks, the way she carries herself, the thoughts that she expresses. She and I have fun conversations all the time, and she has become my little helper more and more. I've noticed a certain independence about her; a way of doing and saying things that show me she's got a mind of her own and knows how to use it.
And here she is with the brand-new bike we got her for birthday:
Can you believe that a mere 4 short years ago this beautiful little girl with her curly long hair and little petite figure looked like this? :
Yes, our Emma used to be a super-chunk! Of course she was an adorable baby, but I didn't relize just how CHUBBY she was at the time until looking back at these pictures. This picture, from when she was about 4 months old I think, is at the height of her baby fat-ness. Thank goodness she started to slim down, or I fear she may have exploded!
She started out so tiny and little-- we even had to put preemie clothes on her, she was such a petite thing. Here she is at about 6 weeks:
It was so fun looking back at all her pictures while I was finding the ones for this post. It brought back so many wonderful memories. I couldn't help but get a little teary thinking about those days when it was just Jeremy and I with our new little one, trying to figure out how to be parents while still practically newlyweds (Emma was a honey-moon baby, for those of you who wenre't present in our lives then-- she was born 9 months and 3 days after we got married!). We lived in a couple tiny little apartments, in not-so-great neighborhoods, and didn't have much money at all-- but it was so sweet. Don't get me wrong, our life now is more wonderful and blessed than I could ever imagine, and I am grateful for each little thing, especially the fact that God has blessed us with yet another daughter. But there is something about those first days with your first child. It is all so new and different, and each day is soaked up with a unique sort of anticipation-- simply because it is the first time you have another little life that is a part of yours. The memories of those days are sweet and dear to me, like a precious little heirloom to be tucked away somewhere safe, always there to be rediscovered and examined gently when I want to be reminded of first loves and where we started.
I hope and pray that God will bless us with more children through the years, and I know that if He does, each one will bring their very own blessing to our lives and so many special, amazing memories and times. Each one will be loved more than I can say, each for their own unique self. But Emma will always be our firstborn. She was the one who came along and made us a little "family", forever changing who Jeremy and Talia "the couple" would be.
And now, this daughter of ours is a grown-up four years old. It's hard to believe that we've been parents for four years already, yet in some ways it seems unimaginable that we haven't always been. While Emma is not without her faults and in need of lots of discipline and training--trust me, there are DAYS, if you know what I mean-- I am proud of who she is becoming. She is so very bright and quick to learn that it's hard to keep up with her, and it is so fun to already begin to see where her skills and talents lie. Her love for silliness and imaginative play is something that I relate to and delight in; she never ceases to entertain us with her stories and her giggles. We love to hear her talk about all sorts of different things, esepcially when what she says makes her sound like she is about.... oh, say 40. And of course, it is a lovely thing to watch her and Annabelle together. While she can bug the crud out of her little sister sometimes and even be mean from time to time, for the most part she is a loving and sweet big sister, who loves to "mommy" as much as possible. They crack each other up, which is one of my favorite things.
I love our Emma Joy-- each lovely little part of her imaginative, creative, silly, smarty-pants self. Watching her grow and change, Lord willing, as the years go by; helping and teaching her to use each amazing gift she's been given for the glory and kingdom of God-- it will take much prayer and hard work, but it will be rewarding and wonderful. These first 4 years with our girl make me excited and willing for all that is to come. Just don't grow up too fast, little daughter.