Dear Lily... Happy Birthday!

Wow, Lily! You're 4 years old!

When I looked at you, minutes after your birth, I didn't think I could ever love you anymore than I did in that moment. But now, I find that I love you more and more all the time.

You are strong-minded, funny, confident and imaginative. You love to watch Paw Patrol and Heidi on Netflix and your favourite toys right now are your Disney dolls. You like to re-enact stories we have read or watched on the TV and often refer to your 'boys and girls' who seem to be imaginary children who you take to school and put in time out.

I have no idea where you have got it from, but you like to do 'exercises' and will stop me to show you stretching, lunging or jumping. It's funny to watch but you take it very seriously.

You still attend nursery whilst Daddy and I are at work. At the moment that is just Wednesday afternoons and all day on Fridays. All your 'best friends' at nursery are boys - Nathan, Joshua and Milan. Last week you attended Joshua's party, the only girl there. They're all invited to your party next week, you are quite the social butterfly right now!

When you're not at nursery, we have our own little routine. Mondays are often our quiet day for activities at home. You like to help me with the cleaning. Picking up your toys though? Not so much! On Tuesday we go to Bible Study and you like to play with Reuben when he comes back to ours after for lunch. On Thursday we go to a Baby and Toddler group that we all love and if you're good then we'll stop for cake before heading home.

We have recently started concentrating on your phonics. You're doing really well and surprised Daddy when you recognised your own name on a souvenir key ring at Chessington. You often get frustrated and are tempted to give in early. I never know whether I should let you get down and play instead, or whether I should encourage you to sit it out until the end. After all, 4 is still very young but I'd hate to teach you to give up every time the going gets tough.

Loving you is easy. But parenting you sometimes is really, really hard.

Living with a you as a three year old has been far more tricky than the so called 'terrible twos'. You know exactly what you want and it's hard for you to accept that you can't always have it. I understand, I know that toddlers are not logical creatures but the tantrums are hard to bear and I shout at you more often than I would like. For that I really am sorry.

You have always been really loving and affectionate. Lately you have taken to telling me "Mummy, you're my best friend" and it never fails to make my heart soar. I would love to be your best friend - to be your confidant, the one you turn to when in trouble, the one who cheers you up when you are down, a friend for all time.

And I will be all those things. But I am also your Mummy. And although that is an extra special job, it comes with a huge responsibility. There are times when I have to be strict, when I may seem boring and when I have to tell you off. That's my job and I don't like that bit of it any more than you do.

In the grand scheme of things, all the strops, tantrums and screaming are a very small part of who you are right now (for which I am eternally grateful!) and we have a lot of fun. You and Ollie like to climb on me, we tickle and we play. Now that Ollie is up and running the two of you will play together and you're still the one person guaranteed to make him laugh. At night we snuggle together to read and I treasure those quiet times and our cuddles.

The next year is going to be huge for you. We're starting to look at primary schools and will be applying in November. You're very excited about the idea of going to school and I pray that continues! I'm very nervous about finding you the right school, I'd love you to attend the school that I work at but I'm not prepared to change churches to do so (it doesn't feel right) and so we will have to wait and trust that we'll find the right place for you.

So, for now I hope you enjoy this birthday my darling. I hope you enjoy your presents and your party this weekend. I hope you know how proud I am of you, how much I love you and how very glad I am that on this day four years ago you joined us and made our lives that bit better.

And I look forward to another year with you, and future birthdays to come.

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