I’m at home reflecting about life with my incredible daughter, Teagan Brenna Cronin, on her third birthday, while Teagan plays and snacks at soccer practice with Daddy and Bubby. Today feels like a very special day indeed, like every day with Teagan.

Michael Franti’s “Life is Better with You” had just been released before Teagan was born. We would crank the family stereo whenever it was played, inspiring an impromptu Cronin Clan dance party.

The song became an family anthem for us, even for Hubby, who doesn’t typically share my passion for lyrically moving social justice melodies by hot tattooed artists. ­čśë It probably had something to do with the flowing hormones and engorged breasts, or the fact that we knew that she would be our last born.

When Teagan was born, we experienced a babymoon like no other. Kevin took four weeks of paternity leave, and we hadn’t taken the time to connect at that level since we first dated, if ever.┬áSerendipitously, Makenna began pre-k the very morning after Teagan was born (at 11:08 the night before), as Kieran began second grade. So, Hubby would drop the big kids off at school and we would go out on daylong dates to restaurants in the Pearl and hikes in the Columbia Gorge, complete with autumn sunshine on Edgefield’s patio. Some days we’d work the garden and putter on home projects, all while cooing at Teagan. We visited with friends and entertained family, all while basking in our “little miracle baby.” She literally only woke up every 4-5 hours to nurse and then went back to sleep, just like a dream. There was a sweetness that’s hard to describe, especially after Teagan’s┬áextraordinary birth story.

Extraordinary is probably the best word to describe Teagan. She feels like a gift every day. I diligently work to stay present with her, not wanting to miss an opportunity to connect with her.

Teagan absolutely feels like the best thing that could have ever happened for our family and for the planet. She is the definition of riotously funny, radiantly adorable, and creatively clever. Her demeanor exudes the sweetest self confidence you could ever imagine, with an innocence that makes you want to cuddle her even closer. Teagan hugs like a koala bear and her eyes pierce you like the sky. Her curls bounce wherever she goes, and her voice sounds like a small song bird chirping away.

Teagan is my miracle girl, who truly wanted to be born into this world at this pivotal point in time. She is my life’s greatest joy and blessing, more than I could have ever prayed for. Yet, better than my immense personal gain, is how Teagan lights up nearly every person she encounters and makes them feel good to be alive.

As for parenting, I can only say that she brings out the best in me. While I still have my stresses, parenting Teagan has always been easy (as long as I follow my own 3 parenting tips!) Even her rare moments of pain and suffering are filled with a sense of duty to share compassion, which just leaves you feeling of service when the episode is over. It certainly isn’t a bad gig being Teagan’s Mommy, strangers continually coo over her petite angelic features and constantly call her my mini-me, which feels like the highest compliment.

I can only speak for myself, but I’ve got a hunch that everyone else in her young life feels the same, that life is better with Teagan. Michael Franti’s “Life is Better With You” music video feels extra inspiring on Teagan’s birthday. I definitely need to film her dancing to the song very soon.

I know that our culture has made birthdays to be a celebration centered around the child and not their mother(s), but it’s hard for me to separate my own life’s transformation from Teagan. Everything in my life has changed for the better since Teagan was born. No, every day hasn’t been blooming roses, but there’s no doubt that every day has been made better by Teagan’s presence. She brings you into the moment in the most captivating way, as though she’s only┬áasking for your undivided attention.

Yet, contrary to what some may find acceptable, I have intentionally chosen not to be Teagan full-time. I’ve actually had her in some form of care since she was fourteen months. Initially, she was cared for during the school hours by our shared nanny, Kensey. My Twin Sis, Miel had moved to Portland with her infant son, Clark, Teagan’s cousin, who was “ovulated” when Teagan was born. They all became the closest of friends, and Kensey cared for them both with her undivided attention, entertaining and educating them. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not nearly as much fun as Kensey through Teagan’s eyes; I don’t make elephant noises or play outside for hours, while strumming the guitar. We were truly one big happy family, in a modern-yippie-family sort of way. ­čÖé

After moving to Astoria, we enrolled at Peace Learning Center, and she thrived in their caring classroom and has genuinely missed the peer social time over the summer (even though she’s also loved playing with her siblings, cousins, and traveling). Having child care for Teagan gave me the personal space that I needed to learn from my fledgling businesses, discover my mama bliss, and craft a vision for our future. It’s only now, writing this, how I see that it was all part of a higher plan. I simply needed three years of life with Teagan in order to be able to share my wisdom with the world.

Teagan, you are an integral part of my life’s purpose. You are more than a daughter, you are my soul mate. In three short years you’ve helped me learn to live life to the fullest, with presence and pure joy. As hard as it is to see you grow up, I can hardly wait for you to shine your light in this world. (In the past few weeks Teagan has decided that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up, to help kids. I have no doubt that she will do whatever she puts her mind to.

Thank you, Teagan, for three beautiful blessed years. Even though you won’t remember these early years, I will always remember when you were my precious baby doll, only better.

Love, Peace and Laughter,
Teagan’s Mommy

Teagan and I at her first Michael Franti concert at 10 months.
This was truly one of my most blissful experiences ever, especially the yoga before the concert, where she was an angel. ┬áTeagan fell asleep in her baby sling and Michael Franti even patted her bottom as he crowd surfed. ­čÖé
(She’s even got the best feminist shirt ever: Life is better with boobs!!!)