I write the girls a love letter for their birthdays every year. Lately, they’ve been belated.
In the middle of a wet and raw Spring beginning, you have started your sixth year on the planet. You don’t ever seem too concerned with the sun. You enjoy splashing in puddles, catching rain on your tongue, and muddy footprint trails just as much as all the fun to be had when the weather is nice. Personally, I think because you yourself are the sun. Dimples, you girl, are a bright spot in life for those who know you. You are warm, generous, and naturally sunny in disposition.
You are lead by your heart more than your head. It is wonderful and worrisome to watch. You offer all your worldly treasure without hesitation, but sometimes when there is little left for you, your heart breaks at what you’ve done. I try to tell you kindness is taking care of other people, but also taking care of yourself, but my words never sink into you the same way they do with your big sister. Baby girl, like your mother, I think you’re the kind of kid who has to feel it to learn. You can’t imagine it– the pitfalls, the sad pieces, the pain of life people tell you is out there because you burn so hot and full of love– that you can’t wrap your heart around it until you live it. Your wisdom comes from life more than advice, baby. It is a hard, but gorgeously deep way to do life.
Despite the fact these things make me worry, your ability to be courageous reminds me that you are strong enough for life. You embody the phrase, “to screw up courage.” I can often see you creating it as you look at whatever made you fearful. I can see how you shake fear off or talk yourself up before you face whatever has you flustered. You do things even though they scare you and you keep your wits about you while you do so. Most adults don’t have that and I hope you never lose it. All bravery you find inside of you is just stuff you made yourself in the face of fear. You have a ton stockpiled.
Your arms reach and hug impulsively. You are *that* person. The one who attaches and loves and spreads it around. More like a thing you’re compelled to do. To hang onto to someone and squeeze so they might really understand the affection you have for them. A few times. So they really get it.
You cry. A lot. It is messy and you can’t find the words until you’ve emptied out your heart through your eyes. You breath can’t keep pace with your heart and your mouth at the same moment. You gotta let those two things take turns. You get pissed, too. Not often. But, girl, you get mad. Arms stiff and fists clenched. You head for solitude, scream in a pillow, and won’t let yourself melt into my arms until you are good and ready. You live in your messy feelings and it is beautiful. Your soul is a treasure to to the world.
You are starting with the comparisons. Miss M and Blue Eyes get two Christmases, get more trips, more presents, more whatever. Here is what I can tell you, darling: Two Christmases is a small spoke in the big wheel of the vehicle that will be driving your life. Baby, if you always look at life like a math problem you can divide into equal parts, you’ll always sit at the table of life unsatisfied. The table is long and there is room for everyone to sit, rest, and fill their plate. You have your own seat at the table. You have your own plate to fill and enough available on the table to do so. Your only job is to make room for everyone at the table. Don’t worry about the details of what fills everybody’s plate. That’s not a measure of worthiness, fairness, or equity. You are not the same as your older sisters. Those two come and go between their other parents and us. You and Bean stay all the time. They are different ways to do childhood, but both are good, both filled with challenges, and both equally sprinkled with special wonder. Your life experiences not being exactly same is not a sign of unfairness, darling. You’ll see, in the end, that you even though your older sisters sometimes get things and experiences twice over, you are getting something that Dad and I could never give either of them: which is one Christmas, one cohesive history of family vacations, one house, one bed. It is a gift too. One is just as powerful as two. I hope and hope and hope you’ll feel that way too as your life experience begins to fill in the blank spots of your life more. I am sorry it causes you heartache in the meanwhile. At least you can still crawl in my lap and let me hold your hurt with you. I promise that its just a little thing that feels huge darling. I know you don’t take my word for it yet. You’ll just have to wait and see. Your heart will lead you there in time.
Kindergarten is almost over. This is your last full week. You learned to read. Which is like real life magic. You ask to be read to every night. You devour stories. You reread Elephant and Piggie books again and again. I love it. I have a hard time making time for it, but I love it. How you take such pride in being able to read signs in the car as we drive from place to place. How you tell me about the stories you’re reading. How you ask anybody and everyone to sit and read with you: the librarian, your grandparetns, your sisters, your aunts, Dad, the dog, and me. I love that you, dear girl, love sitting with words.
You and I are down to just summers now. You want to go to the beach. A lot. I think we can handle that. My summer car will be sand speckled and my kitchen table will be piled with seashells and rocks you found to paint. I’m so looking forward to your curly hair blowing in the ocean wind.
You take ballet on and off at the local YMCA. You have the legs for it, but also the heart. You are always dancing. Well, dancing and singing. Yet, watching you dance– as opposed to gymnastics or swimming or if you venture on stage to act– is ridiculously fun. You are lit up and bright. It is like your body, heart, and head are all on the same page for a little bit. Your smile is big and you chat with the kids in class like your old friends even though you’re new ones. There is something about how you leap and bound and twirl that says we should give you a place to do that more.
You love to cook and help with dishes. You do love to eat. You steal bites and meals from Dad and I often. You grab a fork and help yourself to our plates with a, “Sorry. That looks good and I need to try,” or “It was so good. I had to eat the rest.” You make scrambled eggs, cookies, shrimp scampi, and form meatballs. You’ve burned a finger or two, but haven’t quit. Chefs get hurt once and a while. I can’t wait to see what culinary adventures your life will hold. You tried calamari and mussels. You, for whatever reason, enjoy pineapple with mushrooms on your pizza. You add whipped creamed to things one would not think to add whipped cream too. I’m not on board with it, but I respect the fact you experiment and explore. You experiment with flavors and textures and seeing what happens when you combine two unlike things. You love food and to you it can be an adventure, a craft, a delight. It is fun and sometimes a little concerning to watch. Yet, I like that you push boundaries in a healthy way here and aren’t afraid to try everything. You have a spark there.
For whatever reason, you decided, you were ready to have your ears pierced. You’ve been asking for three years. It started wistful and moved to determined. You worked hard to show you were responsible enough and disciplined enough to keep them clean and wait for the holes to heal. Here is where the pieces of your Dad come in. You were resolved and steady, like him. I researched. I got suggestions from friends of where they pierced. I had wanted to maybe have them pierced without a gun and at a shop with an experienced tattooist who would know more than the young woman at the local accessory shops. Yet, there was really only one artist who pierced earlobes for kids aged under thirteen and that required a trip to Cambridge. You were impatient. So the weekend after your birthday I took you to the mall to look at earrings, price out the two places that did piercings with guns, and also had a tattoo shop where I could pick someone’s brain about pros and cons, earring choice, and cost. We had agreed we’d come back with Dad the next day and get it done together. However, you had your own plans. We stopped at Claire’s. I was reading the informational sign and browsing the earrings, metals, and shapes– when a mom sat down with a baby– maybe six months old — to get earrings. I asked if you wanted to watch. Honestly, darling, I was hoping you’d chicken out. Yet, watching the baby get pierced, hysterically cry, and have little gold studs made you unmovable. I left a bazillion questions unasked and we just did the dang thing. You, who seem some days like your eyes are actual just leaking faucets, didn’t shed a tear. You told me, “I was too happy to cry even though it hurt.” You have that bravery thing down, kid. You are the master of doing things afraid and it makes me very proud of you. It is a superpower: to feel things so deep and to take actions anyway.
This year is gonna be so amazing. I am so lucky to see it and be your Mom. You, my curly haired, big hearted, messy girl remind me how a heart makes room infinitely for love, how bravery is thing you simply create inside yourself, and how important it is to hug with abandon some days.
I love you. More than pancakes shaped like Minnie Mouse. More than all the rainbow sprinkles we put on ice cream. More than all the waves we’ll jump this summer in the ocean.
Happy 6th Birthday. You are the bright spot in all my days and I love you so.