Happy Birthday, Annie

Dear Annie, 

Happy birthday, big girl. You’re six! It feels like you should be ten already, but also like you should still be small enough to strap in a carrier and be toted around the grocery store. The other night, your daddy said, “Do you think she’s getting too big to be carried?” It was an honest question, not accusatory in the least, especially because he’s the one who’s carrying you around. I replied, “Not as long as she’s asking.” You ask him to carry you from the car into the house pretty frequently, even when you qualify it by saying you’re tired or that you don’t want your shoes to get wet. Really, I think you just want to be held tight in your daddy’s arms, and we’re fine with that. I can barely hold you, and when I do, your impossibly long legs dangle along mine so that we look almost comical. I know you’re growing so quickly that I’ll pick you up and put you down for the last time one day in the near future, and I’m not ready for it to be the last time. 

I do love seeing you grow, though. You started kindergarten this year, your first experience with full-time school. Your teacher said she wishes she could have a classroom full of kids like you. You’re kind and smart and always willing to learn something new and try your best. That’s really all I’ll ask of you, now and as you grow. You love school; you always look forward to going. You’ve got a cute little girl-gang of friends, and it’s so neat to see you blossom and create your own section of life that I’m just not a part of. It stings a little, too, of course. But it helps me stay focused on making the most of the evenings and weekends and paying attention to those little teaching moments, where we talk about who might have been mean that day or who was extra helpful. 

We are aging out of the stage in which I just help you stay alive. I do that, too, but we’ve passed survival mode. You’re already pretty self-sufficient, so I don’t have to make sure you’re eating every bite or brushing your teeth.You recently started making your bed every day, without my request. Still, mothering you feels harder these days. Instead of cutting your grapes, I’m worried about how you observe relationships and the behavior of those around you. Are you taking in the good stuff? I hope so. I try to answer your questions about everything, even when it’s bedtime and you’re asking me things like. “Why is holding up this one finger bad? Emma said it was bad!” Yikes. So it begins. I hope I’m giving you the right answers, and showing you that it’s okay to make mistakes. 

You’re my first baby, and so each new stage is experimental. You’ve always been accepting and patient when it comes to my trial-and-error methods, and I’m thankful for your good nature. I’m so proud to be your mama and introduce you as my mini-me. You look and act like me in so many ways, but you’re already much braver and stronger than I was as a girl. I love that, and I love you. Happiest of birthdays to you, my girl.


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