On the eve of your sixth birthday, I look back only in fondness at the last five years and feel amazement and wonder at the beautiful girl you have become.
It seems not that long ago you were my little bald-headed baby (because you had no hair until you were at least two years old), and now you are fastidious about brushing and styling your hair and selecting just the right unicorn headband.
Every day you wake up determined to prove your new-found independence by getting dressed on your own and doing chores and making your own breakfast. It’s impressive having someone who is such a good helper around the house and enjoys doing things for others (unlike your brother).
Speaking of your older brother, I know it’s not always easy having him bossing you around — especially since he tends to be competitive and demanding — but I think it has made you a stronger person. You are fearless on the soccer field and pursue most activities with a confidence that comes from being the younger sibling.
You tell us often that when you grow up you want to be a mom, a teacher, a chef, and a vet. I know you can accomplish your goals, however ambitious they may seem. Your zest for life, your generosity, your sincerity, your sense of humor — I hope you carry these traits with you always and they help guide you through hard times and you find a way to keep that inner glow burning bright.
Recently, on the drive home from our family vacation, we were stopped in traffic next to a pickup pulling a horse trailer. The two horses were sticking their heads out as much as they could of their little windows, and every time we drove by one horse kept nodding its head up and down, and you were dying laughing. It happened at least four times and each time made you laugh more; it was impossible not to laugh along at the funny sight, at the contagious giggle coming from the back seat. You have that ability to make people stop and appreciate the small things, the childlike wonder to crack up at a silly horse head — a gift I hope you possess your whole life.
I know we don’t always see eye to eye. You get mad very easily and I tend to get mad right back. That’s not very responsible on my part, but I have always had trouble controlling my emotions. Although you have much of your dad’s patience and easy-going manner, you also have a fierce spirit that makes you a little firecracker — this you inherited from your mom. I inherited the same passion and intensity from my mom.
It still makes me sad that you never got to meet your Grandma Mary, the namesake of your middle name, that she can’t see how special you are, or teach you all that she knew like she taught so many children during her career as an elementary school teacher. She would have loved the way you devour books that once belonged in her classroom, and she would have been so proud to see how you thrived as a Kindergartener this past year.
She would have been thrilled to know too that you are a Girl Scout since she was my Girl Scout troop leader for seven years. Even though our troop just finished its first year (and it was a lot of work!), it was a joy being your leader and watching you being a good friend and embracing the Girl Scout values.
You will always be my baby, but I know you’re not a baby anymore. Someday you’ll understand how hard that is for a mother to accept — that her babies are growing up, that time is slipping away, that she fears they might not need her as much as they used to, that she’s not getting any younger — but right now you’ll probably just think I’m crazy for crying at your birthday party.
As you are about to become a big first-grader, I wish for you a wonderful year ahead. I will always cherish your first five years, and it has been a gift watching you grow into the fabulous person that you are today.
You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Now go take on the world.