Happy, happy birthday to you, my amazing daughter! Today you are FIVE! This feels like such a big milestone for both of us and as I write this letter on the evening before your birthday, I can’t help but remember how I spent this night 5 years ago. By this point I had already been at the hospital for several hours, and had several still to go before you arrived. I was excited and scared, thrilled and anxious, and certainly had no idea how the next five years would unfold. And that was just the beginning!
I’ve tried to come up with short and succinct ways to describe you at 5, but I keep failing because there is just so much to say. You are happy, healthy and strong. You are squirmy yet snuggly, and rarely fail to sneak your way into bed with Daddy and me at some wee hour of the morning. You greet each day with such enthusiasm. You love to ask questions and you love make us laugh. You like to sing and dance, to watch iPad and read books. You are a wonderful big sister. And you are so creative! When we walk in the back door at the end of each weekday, you usually head straight to the table and settle in with some paper and markers, and sometimes with scissors and a glue stick too. I am always amazed at what you make without any outside prompting, especially your recent and repeated renditions of all the characters from the Trolls movie. (It also seems important to document that at five, you are obsessed with Trolls.)
You are so observant, and so curious about the world around you, and both of these traits are paired with an excellent memory. I’m continually surprised by what you recall from a year ago or more, and woe unto me if I say on Tuesday that we’ll, say, go swimming on Saturday. That’s a perfect recipe for starting my weekend bright and early with a “Mom, it’s time to go to the pool now!” Your curiosity leads to explaining things to you that seem unremarkable to me, and in turn I find myself pondering things that might have escaped my notice even two years ago. Seeing the world through your eyes give me a fresh perspective on life in general. It’s definitely one of the very best things about being a parent — this opportunity to help you navigate these early years, and learn a few things myself along the way.
A couple nights ago we were watching the Astros game at bedtime, and I promised you that we could watch the rest of the inning before going upstairs. I certainly didn’t think that “the rest of the inning” would take nearly 45 minutes as the Astros sent 15 men to the plate and scored 9 runs, but that’s exactly what happened. You were so excited for every single run — cheering and exclaiming as the number on the scoreboard climbed up and up — and I found myself thinking about how much FUN you can be these days. There are hard moments, when you’re not listening or you’re overtired or you’re just generally acting like a typically exasperating kid. But overall, as you hit the big 5, I am struck by how much I enjoy having you in my life. I love you, and I also really LIKE you.
Two weeks from now, you’ll be starting kindergarten, and it feels so abrupt to be at that point of your life already. When you were younger, “real” school seemed like something in the very far, very distant future. With such a late birthday as far as the school calender is concerned, you will always be the youngest in your class. I worry about whether that will have an impact down the road, but I also know that you are so very ready for the year to come. Kindergarten seems like a big step towards independence — this month it’s elementary school, and soon enough it’ll be college. I look forward to hearing about what you learn and who you meet, but mostly, I look forward to seeing you continue grow up, out, and all around.
Five years ago I had no idea what was in store for me as a mom, or for you as my daughter. There have been ups and downs, lefts and rights, u-turns, roundabouts, and big wide speedways. And my dear Emma, it has been and continues to be the very best kind of ride.