Oh, Finley, you are 3 years old today. It sounds so trite, but I just don’t even know how that’s possible. You, more than either of your sisters, have grown up in the blended community of real life and online. This keyboard is so much a part of how I explored the months with you inside of my belly and the days and months that followed. The day you were born I knew that there were so many people already loving you.

Photo Credit: Grandma, 4/29/11

Somehow it seems absolutely appropriate that people who’ve never met you adore you. You have a way about you that is so easy, able to create bonds that seem to have been in place for a lifetime, after just moments. I remember having the same worry with you that I did with Avery, how could I possibly have the capacity to love you like I did your sisters. I can laugh about it now, you with your knack for shimmying into my every thought and emotion. There was always room for you.

The thing is, you’ve done so much more than find a place for yourself in our family. You have shifted everything we do. You made Avery into a big sister and in doing so, revealed a confidence and kindness that has allowed Ave to taste victory. You push Briar, oh how you push her. Watching you literally take her on toe-to-toe, the veins in your neck popping as you demand what is yours and, honestly, what is not at all yours. Dad and I could not do that for Briar, your competitive streak has ignited a fire in Briar that is going to keep her from so much hurt. It’s hard for me to explain what you did for dad and me. There’s something you say, “Dere, perfke-tect,” which covers it pretty well. You made our family perfke-tect.

Dad and I are trying to avoid the pitfalls of birth order ruts, but you are my baby. I can’t apologize for it or change it. I worship you. This last week we’ve spent, foreheads touching and fingers interlaced, has been perfection despite the incessant vomiting and diarrhea we’ve both suffered. The touch of your nose against mine, the gentle murmurs of “I just hope you get bedder,” sustain me. I am trying to do the same for you. We read the Elmo book over and over again, we watch Caillou, I do the special cuddle each night on whichever side of the bed you tell me is mine. I play Never Say Never on repeat.

Last night I crept into your bed and told you that it was the last night that you’d be two. You beamed at me, clutching my face in your soft, little hands and declaring that in the morning you’d be “free” years old. And it’s true, today you woke with the dawn and you were a vibrant 3 year old, easily taller and more slender than the night before. Your sentences seemed more maturely crafted, even the timbre of your voice seemed changed. I am so proud of how much you’ve done in these three wonderful years. I know that the summer ahead is going to be filled with so much wonder because you are a part of it.

I just have one little secret, sweet Fin. Today you are three, but in a little space in my heart, you will always be two and holding my face in the glow of your nightlight.

Happy Birthday, my Fin-didlle.