Friday, June 8, 2012

{Happy Birthday, Squirrely Girl!}: A Letter to my Daughter on her Fifth Birthday

To my dearest, darling daughter:

You are FIVE today! This is a big year for you! This is a big year for me too, because it marks half a decade since you bestowed upon me the gift of motherhood, the most precious gift I have been given and that which connects me most fully to the divinity of my Father in Heaven and within me. There was once a time when I questioned whether I should have children, or even if I wanted them, when I feared bringing them into this big, ugly world. In the instant that I met you, however, and in nearly every moment since, you have shown me that motherhood is the greatest calling I could ask for, that your innocence and goodness is constantly at work, and that the influence we have in the world is real.

How shall I describe you in this past year? You are, as ever, delightful. You are a wonderfully happy child. You go with the flow quite easily, you love to meet people, to talk to people, to make connections. You experience great joy in being acknowledged, whether for doing something well, being kind, or just being you. You are sensitive--you cry when the nature channel shows the alligator catching the bird or the cheetah chase down the gazelle. You are full of wonder; finding seeds have sprouted, seeing a bird's nest, watching daddy pull a quarter from your ear--these are all things that elicit wide-eyed gasps and grins from you.

You are smart and attentive; I love to stop by your preschool class and watch you in circle time, listening attentively, with a very specific and peculiar combination of apprehension and pride when it is your turn to answer a question or participate. You are SO excited to start Kindergarten in the fall, though the thought turns me to great waves of anxiety. You are beginning to sound out words and read. We read together nightly. We've even moved to some short chapter books, your favorites being My Father's Dragon and the Mercy Watson series. You love our weekly trips to the library and picking books, especially silly ones. You love to write notes and letters to people, explaining what you wish to say and then patiently waiting for me to spell the words so you can put them on the page yourself, and with such pride. I love the way you write your capital "E"s, with not three prongs but as many as you can fit. Your "S"s are usually backwards, and your "I"s always topped with a big bubble for the dot.

You love music--you dance even when you're the only one who can hear it; you sing loudly to the radio; you make up your own songs; you remember and sing primary songs; you request lullabies every night; you sing to me when I am feeling ill. You are a story teller--I love to hear your stories you make up, and I love to hear you "read" to your brother in bed at night. You are FUNNY--you are beginning to understand humor in a more adult way, the nuance, the timing, the "punchline" that surprises. Lately, there have been a few jokes that have broken through the norm of confusing knock knock jokes and "why did the so-and-so do xyz?" jokes. And for those ones I truly laugh, both at the joke, and at my surprise that you are so clever. You love to sing, dance, perform. You put on shows pretty much daily for anyone who will pay attention. Even Little Bird is nicely trained to sit and applaud your performances and join in occasionally.

You are graceful. This one is a bit of a surprise for my sweet little hopelessly pigeon-toed beauty, but it's true. You are just now starting to resemble a real miniature human in proportion. It seems the clumsy toddler in you is melting away and in her place is a girl, even a little lady, who walks on her tiptoes, and lifts her chin high. Of course, there are most days when you are just you, fun and fancy free, but there is the glimmer in there of the beautiful young lady you will someday become.

With the exception of your dislike for cleaning up your messes, you are SUCH a helper and have grown remarkably independent this year. I spent a good deal of this year pregnant with your new little brother, and a good deal of that time very sick. Watching you step up and take responsibility for you and Little Bird was both beautiful and a little painful, but I know you take great pride in doing things on your own and the opportunity to demonstrate your abilities. You like to make breakfast, peanut butter and jelly, and help prepare dinner in the kitchen with me. You help Little Bird pick out his clothes for the day and turn on the light in the bathroom for him when his stool has gone missing. You have spent months anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new baby brother to help feed and dress and hold and sing to. Now that he is here, your joy is even bigger than I imagined. When you are able to hold him or talk to him or kiss him, your face explodes into joy--it's like you literally cannot smile as big as your happy is. You ogle over his tiny fingers and toes, his funny faces and love when you catch his gaze. He will be blessed all his life to have such a joyful sister.

You are imaginative. You and Little Bird spend a great deal of time encouraging one another to "pretend this" or "pretend that" and then acting out such elaborate scenes. I deeply love the way you two play together now, how you encourage each other, wrestle together, imagine together. You also fight impressively at times. I am sometimes astounded at how quickly your little accusations and tiffs can become nuclear. Thankfully, the times you laugh or dance or sleep snuggled up together are worth the struggle of teaching you to get along.

 You care about others and are kind. You pray for family and friends, you sing me songs to comfort me, you write "Get Well" cards to others, and you can be so tender with your brother. There is such a deep well of goodness and beauty in you. I love when you take my face in your hands and I take yours in mine, and we just look into each others eyes. I hope we can do this forever. I sense so much love from you and I hope you can feel all the love I am trying to pour into your soul this way. I can see in you that you have such enormous beauty in you and I am desperate to teach you that beauty has nothing to do with how "pretty" you are, but comes from that light in your eyes of love and goodness.

You love princesses (I hope you know that you REALLY ARE ONE), Hello Kitty, Minnie Mouse, pink, purple, unicorns, coloring, painting (art of any kind), using glue and tape (oh how quickly my tape disappears!), clothes, helping me with "office hours," the movie theatre, movie nights at home, animals, snuggling, jump ropes (even though you can't figure out how they work), bubbles, cauliflower (raw...weird), peanut butter and jelly, pineapple juice, being outdoors, swinging (you will swing forever if I let you), church, parties (pretend, tea, birthdays, you name it), being creative, and your family. Really it's so hard to make a list of things you love, because it would probably be endless. Ultimately, you delight in almost anything and can almost always find something to enjoy in every situation.

Your daddy is still the light of your life, and I could watch you watch him forever. You like to pretend that you too have to take Chemistry or Biology and study for tests. You sneak into his office with excuses to spend time with him, and you love spending time in his lap to snuggle. And he, child, is even more crazy about you. I am so grateful you came along first, softening his heart, his voice, his views on just about everything from that point on because his focus turned to the perfect little girl he was now dedicated to teaching, protecting, and leading. He would lasso the moon for you if you asked him.

There is so much more to say, but the beauty of you is that you can be rolled into a simple statement: you are joy epitomized. Everyday of my life I am grateful for you and pray to my Heavenly Father that I can do right by you, that somehow the light in me will be enough to guide the enormous light in you to become who He has in store. You are remarkable in every way for that joy and light, and I know there will always be beauty in the path behind you, since it follows after everything you touch.

I love you deeply, now and forever, my sweet, growing, graceful daughter. Happiest Birthday, my darling.

All my love,


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