Lily is 4. Or as she says, “I’m not a baby anymore, I’m Lily” which I guess is her way of stating that she is coming into her own. Lily was born into her own. Right now, Lily’s favorite songs are The Clash – Should I Stay or Should I Go, Hole – Credit in the Straight World, Simon and Garfunkel – Cecelia, and a catchy-cloying radio song from a group I don’t know – Hey Soul Sister. I think she is deeply confused in her musical convictions, but that’s ok because her sisters cycle between John Denver and Fiona Apple, so yeah, nobody really has a strong musical identity in this family.
Lily is a third child and it shows. She is a fighter, having learned that she has to push harder for the attention she would like. Or pinch harder as the case may be. She is constantly in trouble with us for hitting, pushing, punching, pinching – she pushes us to our limit, and then, just for fun I think, a little bit farther. Just when I’m ready to sell her to the next band of gypsies to ring the doorbell, she shows her other side, which is love, love and more love. She gives the best hugs. Even if she isn’t a baby, she is still small enough that she wakes up, stumbles out with her arms held in front of her, in utter assurance that she will find a welcoming embrace. She then burrows into my chest until we are practically a single entity, and lets the morning wash over her, slowly coming to life in my arms.
I love this age on her, because she seems so completely self assured. She is immune to peer pressure. Her sisters got their ears pierced after oohing and ahhing over how pretty they looked, she declared, “I’m NEVER doing that. No WAY.” Trying to get her to eat a food she isn’t predisposed to is an exercise in futility – she just looks at me like I’m the crazy person, “but mommy, I just told you, I don’t like that. No. I’ve never tried it, but why would I? I don’t like it.” She stands on the fireplace and performs for just about anybody who will listen, butchering the lyrics to her favorite songs. She just belts it out, and what she forgets, she makes up, but god help you if you correct her. I think Lily may have invented the evil eye.
Sometimes in the middle of the night, she still cries out from dreams, or just the shock of waking alone – this is the girl who slept in my bed every night from her birth until close to 2. I go and get her and bring her into bed with me. She curls up in a fetal position, and I curl my legs below her feet. We look like a sesame street picture brought to you by the letter C. I know from the bigger girls that I have precious little time left to have her fit next to me like a puzzle piece, so no matter how tired I am, I take a moment to relish it every single time, even if it’s a half second before dropping back off to sleep.
Morning broke on the big 4 – I heard Lily and Alice starting to wake, and then Alice began an operatic rendition of Happy Birthday from the top bunk that only Alice could pull off. Everyone stumbled out to see the birthday banner (which always has a previously unseen picture as the centerpiece) – this was what is looked like this year:
The centerpiece is the picture at the top of this post. I took it yesterday when she dressed up in snow boots, snow hat and sundress on a 95 degree day. She missed her winter clothes.
Presents were opened. I decided that what Lily really always wants is simply what her sisters have, so I gave her a version of their dolls that she is always coveting (read – stealing) and a few odds and ends. Margaret gave her a make up kit and had Lily painted up like a schizophrenic parrot in no time. Chocolate chip pancakes and whipped cream rounded out the morning listening to her favorite songs (even though I thought John was going to put his head in an oven if Hey Soul Sister went on much longer – luckily it’s an electric oven). My in-laws are in town for a visit and they came by a little later, but I was glad to have our usual morning celebration – just us. This whole “Christmas-Birthday” type celebration was an accidental tradition that I started, and many times I have rued it’s beginning, because it can be a huge pain in the ass. But I love that the girls can count on it, and how they set aside rivalries and genuinely delight in each other’s big mornings. Margaret’s card said, “Dear Lily, when I first met you when you were a baby, I knew you were going to be a great little sister.” Alice’s card had a list of things she likes about Lily, such as, “you’re cute, and you’re fun.” Thankfully there was nothing about the pinching and hitting. Apparently, birthdays are when your lesser points are set aside. At least in the card.
It wasn’t a perfect day. I had a bad bought of facial neuralgia which is never fun, my inlaws stayed too long, and gave Lily a hand held video game thing that became an instant nexus for girl fights, but I think in my mind, the entire day is summed up by Lily, with a mouth full of chocolate chip pancake, jumping up in her chair to dance her heart out to this:
One Two Ready Go!
One thought on “All is love”
Lily is gorgeous! I really enjoy reading about your family, when I think of Lily what immediately springs to mind is when she threatened that she was going to burn all your books – that makes me giggle. The force is strong in this one, Cara.I didn't know you suffered with neuralgia and actually, I didn't know anything about it until now. It is obviously a very painful and distressing condition and I hope that you have good medical/therapeutic support to help treat the pain when the neuralgia is triggered.My love to you,M x