Another year has come and gone, and despite my pleading for you to please stop growing so fast, I turned around one day, and poof, you were another year older.
To celebrate your sixth birthday, we had a small princess party at home. You had your reservations at first that I could pull off a decent party at our house, but when I mentioned that I would buy you a new princess dress to wear for the party, you never doubted again. We invited seven of your friends to come to our house and be treated like royalty for an evening. You had a blast.
As long as I live, I never want to forget the moment when you came home to see your party decorations. You’d been gone all day, playing at a friend’s house while I got everything ready for your party. I spent the entire day decorating, hurrying from one errand to the next, and running around like a crazy woman hopped up on goof pills.
I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted your party to feel magical. I hung Christmas lights around the living room and lit a zillion candles. Everything was pink: the tablecloth, the decorations, the lemonade.
When you came home, you ran upstairs, and immediately started going from one spot to the next, looking at everything with such excitement. You’d yell out, “Oh wow! Look at this!” and then run to the next spot, “I didn’t know you’d bought these!” I stood at the top of the stairs, just watching you.
Then all of a sudden, you stopped. It was like a switch flipped in your brain. You turned in my direction and ran across the room. You threw your arms around my legs and said, “Thank you, Mommy, for my party! It’s so beautiful!” And as quickly as you came, you left and went back to exploring the room.
I started to cry, big, happy tears.
You see, this mothering gig has been pretty hard on me lately. I’ve been struggling with the fact that I am dedicating all my time and energy towards people that don’t really understand the sacrifices. Please, don’t take that as a negative comment on your character. It’s not your fault. You’re a child, and it’s just the nature of motherhood. In fact, I like to think I’ve grown a lot this year because of some of the struggles we’ve faced, but in that one moment that you squeezed my legs tight, I knew you appreciated me. You acknowledged the effort I’d put into planning this party, and what’s more? You appreciated it. It felt kind of like I was being given a present on your birthday. So thank you for that.
I think on the surface you are a pretty normal six year old little girl.
You love having secret hide-outs, and I’m constantly finding areas in our house that you’ve turned into a secret oasis by draping a blanket over a chair or lining up pillows around the legs of a table. You’ll collect toys from your room and bring them into your secret hide-out like a squirrel storing nuts for the winter. This leaves an incredible mess, and eventually, I make you clean it all up. Several times I’ve tried to embrace the whole tent building/secret hideout thing, but for some reason, the tents I build just don’t meet code, and you quickly become bored with them. I probably would have failed the “Tent Building” chapter in Parenting 101, you know, if such a class existed.
You discovered the magic of a Barbie this year and have spent many hours laying in the floor of your room, making up your own fairy-tales, and acting them out with these dolls. Man, does that take me back. I did the same thing when I was a kid, and if you are anything like me, you have only begun to scratch the surface of make believe with a Barbie doll. Trust me, it gets better.
However, your favorite past time these days is painting. Well, it’s probably more accurate to say painting pictures and then giving them away. I’m not really sure which one you enjoy more. The painting or the giving. You want to take pictures that you’ve painted everywhere we go, to give to anyone we see. Most of our family and friends have been given one of your masterpieces at some point this year. I love this about you, and I hope that this trait of giving and serving others stays with you.
Your relationship with your brother has begun to morph into a more typical brother/sister relationship. I now find myself saying motherly things like “Keep your hands to yourself!” or “Stop aggravating each other!” Thanks to your Uncle Sonny, I had no illusions about the two of you always getting along. I know what it’s like to have a brother, and like most siblings, I learned the definition of a love/hate relationship early as a child. So I think what ya’ll are going through is pretty normal, and if your Uncle Sonny and I are the gauge to go by, then you will start to enjoy each others’ company soon enough. I’ll just make sure no one gets physically wounded in the process.
I should be use to it by now, but I still can’t get over how much you’ve grown this past year. One morning not too long ago, I noticed you were looking strangely taller. I couldn’t help myself. I sent you to your room and stood you up against the growth chart. Sure enough. You had grown an inch. OVERNIGHT. Ok…so maybe not in one night, but seriously, it was a month. I’ve got the documentation to prove it. One month, and you grew an inch. And all of a sudden, those pants that use to cover your shoelaces became capris. No wonder I can’t keep up. And I know this is going to sound crazy to say it, but you are even outgrowing your teeth. Your teeth?! I didn’t know it was possible either, but you are living proof that it happens. Your baby teeth use to be all snug in your mouth, but at some point while you were five, your mouth grew bigger. And now your teeth look small and spread apart, but don’t worry. You’re still beautiful.
I’m so proud of the person you are growing into. You have an amazing gift to forgive others, and I love that about you. Recently, a close friend of yours said some ugly things to you because she was trying to show off in front of some other friends. Later you told me about the incident while trying to choke back tears. I asked if you said hateful things back to her. I wasn’t accusing you of anything. We were just talking about what happened. You looked up at me and said, “I would never say that to somebody.” You were so sincere. You acted like you were shocked that I could even think such a thing. Even now as I write this, I tear up over it. I’m not sure that I would’ve had the self-control to hold my tongue like you did.
Edie, if you don’t remember anything else about your childhood, I hope you know one thing–you are a good kid with a good heart. And I couldn’t be prouder of you.