Dear E —
You’re turning 5 today. Five! I know you’re probably already sick of hearing me say this, but how is this possible? In a blink of an eye you’ve gone from my (giant) newborn to this wild, wonderful, smart, adventurous and funny kid.
This is going to be such an exciting year. In a couple months, you’ll graduate from PreK and leave the school that I think helped shape you into the bright and engaged child you are today. Then, before we know it, you’re going to start what I hope is the first year of many, many years of schooling — kindergarten! Trust me — stay in school as long as you can. Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep avoiding getting a real job (as long as you’re actually earning degrees along the way to this student career. I’m not talking about taking 7 years to finish undergrad. Mommy and Daddy can’t afford that).
This past year has been one filled with so much fun, and a few tough times. You and I are still trying to figure this mother-daughter relationship out. You like to push your boundaries. I like to make threats. But those battles are rare. You’re my best girl and always will be. I knew I wanted a daughter and you’ve far exceeded my expectations already. You make me realize that I was put on this Earth to be YOUR mother. I’m not always going to get things right but I promise you that I love you more than anything. To quote a wise man, everything I do, I do it for you (OK, fine, it was Bryan Adams. You really should add some of his stuff from the ’80s to whatever device plays music by the time you read this).
Let’s make a deal, though. I already know things are going to get rough when you’re a teenager. It’s genetics. Just ask your Gigi about our relationship when I was a teenager. But I pray that you and I will come out on the other end as close as your Gigi and I are now. Even when I was fighting back and pushing my own boundaries, there was one thing I never doubted for a second — she loved me with every fiber of her being. I hope you’ll also see the fierceness of my love for you. I hope you’ll trust me enough to share your secrets. I hope you’ll know that nothing you could ever do could make me love you less. Yes, we may disappoint each other from time to time, but let’s never stop loving and respecting each other, OK?
As you turn 5, I wanted to jot down (sorry, that’s an old-fashioned term from when people actually wrote things down instead of typing them) some of the things you were doing at age 4. These memories are as much for you as for me. I don’t want to ever forget a second of our time together but I know that I will. Hopefully we’ll both look back on these things, perhaps even together, and laugh about what a funny and clever preschooler you were.
Your Daddy always tells new parents that every month of parenthood gets more fun. And that’s because of you. Each one of the past 60 months has brought with it new reasons to smile and to be thankful for being your parents. Although we miss our snuggly, happy little baby (seriously, look back at your baby pictures — you were always being held and you were ALWAYS smiling), we like the current you even more.
Here are just a few of the things I’ll remember best about you at 4:
— My child, I would not be at all be surprised if you pursued some sort of music or drama career. You are always singing, humming or playing an instrument. You’re still taking piano lessons (although, you hate practicing). You’re also still in ballet lessons. This past year, we saw some shows at the Orlando Repertory Theater and saw your first professional ballet (The Nutcracker). And, like millions of girls before you, you’ve recently discovered the power of a Taylor Swift song. These days, you want me to play “We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together” on repeat and you belt the whole song out, at the top of your lungs. I’m hoping to record it soon because it really is the cutest thing ever. You tell me that you and your friends always sing it on the playground at school. That’s something I’d love to see.
— Style-wise, you’re blazing your own fashion trail. You love to put together outfits that shouldn’t look good, but somehow, on you, they do because they are so uniquely you.
— Some days, I think we’re already raising a college student. Bedtime is not your favorite time of day. It’s a long process that always involves one last kiss, one last hug, one last drink of water, one last question. And when you’ve finally exhausted those options, you’re awake long after lights out, singing to your stuffed animals, telling them stories, and even reading by flashlight (you have a collection of them hidden around your room). That’s OK. I like to read before falling asleep too. Sometimes, you even fall asleep mid-book.
But when you’re asleep, you’re out. On one recent Sunday morning, you slept until 10:15! Thank God you never have been and still aren’t an early riser. I always say the best worst part of my day is when I have to wake you up for school. It’s the best part because I crawl into bed with you and you wrap your sleepy arms around my neck, asking to sleep a little longer. I always try to give myself a few extra minutes in the morning so we can do just that. But it quickly becomes the worst part, because you HATE to be woken up before you’re ready to get up. You get that from me.
— When it comes to creepy, crawly things, you’re still fearless. There’s nothing you love better than catching lizards in the yard or exploring deep into the corner of the yard where Mommy refuses to go. You and Daddy have spotted one too many snakes out there for me to ever return. I don’t mind you catching lizards, but you really need to stop trying to catch a snake!
Yes, you’re holding a lizard’s tail in your ballerina outfit. That’s my girl.
But this is what you’d rather be holding.
— Even though I swear you’re almost as tall as me, there’s one thing you still make me do every night after your bath — I wrap you up in a towel and rock you like a baby for a few minutes. That’s all fine and good, but then you make me carry you to your room, still in the rocking position. And it’s not easy. So if by now you have a permanent dent on your head, it’s because the day finally arrived when I couldn’t navigate your long body through the doorframe. Sorry about that.
— It’s so exciting to watch your brain grow by leaps and bounds every day. You’re reading more and more words, you’re already better at math than I am (sad but true) and you’re constantly processing things and figuring them out in a way I’m not yet ready for. We recently went to our friend’s for a Super Bowl party, and you and I came home before Daddy. When we got home, you realized Daddy had forgotten his phone at home. On your own, you went and found a piece of paper and left a note for Daddy with his phone.
D – Daddy
I – I
F – found
U – your
F – phone
Since I fully expect you to also be a future fan of all things Philadelphia, I was a little disappointed I’d failed to teach you the proper ph = f sound, but I was so proud of the rest of it.
— But what I love best is your adventurous spirit and how you refuse to be just one thing. Yes, sometimes you like to dress up as a princess …
… but you’re just as comfortable wielding a sword and a shield …
…. or even battling a Sith Lord.
Don’t ever stop being you. Don’t be something because you think you have to be. There are no rules in life. It’s OK to like both princesses and Jedi knights. A lot of people are going to try and tell you something is for girls or boys; they’re wrong. You, my darling daughter, can be ANYTHING. Don’t let someone else’s biases and stereotypes stop you from your path. It’s all up to you. Go show them what you’re made of.
Your Daddy and I love you so much and we’ll be there with you every step of the way.
Bring on 5!