Dear Little Girl,
Right now you’re snuggled up against my left side, similar to the way you curved your little body next to mine during your first few hours on earth.
Then, you nuzzled your head toward my breast, and your tiny fist grasped tightly to my finger as I nursed you. Now, I can barely lift you, and your long, slender fingers stretch halfway down my hand.
Last week, you turned 6.
Six isn’t traditionally a milestone birthday.
But for your mama, it is.
You see, six means the elusive formative years are over. They say your personality is set. And who you will become has largely been determined.
Oh, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still change. We all continue to throughout this life. At 33, I laugh at what I thought I knew in my 20’s.
So just because I might have messed up with trying to potty train you too early or not knowing how to handle your strong will when you turned 3, I don’t think all is lost.
But you turning 6 reminds me that these years are fleeting.
In many ways, your childhood is just beginning. But the baby years, the toddler years, the preschool years even…are gone.
And there are no do-overs. This is it.
May I remember that as I think about how…
You turning six means we only have two more sixes. Each childhood only gets three.
One set of six years down. Two more to go.
And you’ll be 18 and grown.
These six have sped. And those two sixes will fly.
One third of your childhood is already over. One third!
But then I went on and breastfed you for almost two years.
As a baby, you were a screamer. Perhaps it was because, as a brand new, first-time mama, I tensed as I held you. And you sensed it.
When you writhed and cried for no apparent reason, I lay you on your blanket in our living room, walked into my bedroom and shut the door. I sat on my bed, called our church nursery director and wept.
“I don’t know what to do with her,” I said. “She just won’t stop crying.”
And later, I simply held you close and cried with you. You…a tiny ball of fire…filled your lungs with air and screamed. And I just cried right back.
You’re still a pistol. And I’m glad.
When I just started figuring out how to care for an infant, you became a toddler. Breastfeeding became habit, and I had to learn how to take care of tantrums.
I faltered. I failed. (Or so it felt.)
When I said “no,” you said “yes.” When I said “go,” you stayed put. And when I said “stay,” you ran away and giggled.
I’ll never forget the last day of you being our only. I took you to the park for one final time for me to push you on the swing, watch you build in the sandbox and chase you (albeit with a waddle) undivided.
I had stopped at the playground on a whim that day. We had no idea your sister would come the next. How glad I am for that sweet memory of spontaneity with just the two of us.
I know it wasn’t easy when your first little sister arrived. You were but 28 months.
“Mama, carry me down the stairs,” you’d say. And I struggled with holding you on one hip and cradling the baby in the crook of my other arm.
Sometimes I made you crawl down the steps by yourself–fearful I would stumble and drop one of you. The baby wasn’t mobile, and so I sat you down.
You whined and reached out your arms for me but eventually obliged when you saw that I could not hold you both.
And then one day–who knows when–you quit asking me to carry you down those stairs.
I’m not even sure I could lift you now if you wanted me to.
The other day I took you to the grocery store. It had been a long while since just the two of us had gone somewhere, seeing that baby sister #2 joined us not long after you turned four.
I asked if you wanted to ride in the cart. You giggled and said no. And inside I knew what a silly sight that would have been for your long legs to dangle. They would probably almost touch the floor.
Who knows the last time you rode in the grocery cart. And I guess you never will again.
This thing called growing up: It’s gradual but it’s quick.
You are so much like me.
Even though we waited to send you to kindergarten, you’re already a bookworm. You pile your bed full of books each night, and “read” by flashlight under your covers.
You’re a drama queen, dressing up as your favorite storybook and movie characters and both directing your sisters and acting out performances yourself.
You’re a little mama in the kitchen. You’ve grown more responsible in the past year and light up with excitement when I let you chop your own veggies and warm food in the toaster oven and set the dinner table.
You’re like your daddy, too.
Science intrigues you. Whereas bugs make me squirm, you delight in collecting rolly pollies, ladybugs, crickets, grasshoppers, and all kinds of other creatures.
You construct habitats out of glass jars and sprigs of grass and crumbled leaves. You angle your magnifying glass against your eye to examine your “collections” (as you call them) in detail.
Watching tadpoles change into frogs and caterpillars transform into butterflies have become your favorite pastimes.
You also revel in art. You craft masterpieces out of buttons and sequins and glitter and scraps of old fabric. You draw and color and create stories out of pictures.
You drink in the outdoors. You climb trees and build forts and suck on the ends of honeysuckles and blow dandelions and would ride your scooter all day long if I let you.
A perfect combination of your daddy and me, you are.
You’ve taught me about God.
When you were three, I once asked you if you loved me. You said yes. I then asked why you didn’t always obey me if you loved me like you said.
And then it hit me–hard and square and plain as day. I say I love God, but in my own rebelliousness I disobey Him as well. We all do.
And so in you, He showed me me.
And now…at six…your faith amazes me.
“Jesus made that” and “God can do anything” are two phrases you frequently spill.
And I pray it will always be this way.
You are determined. You are strong. And I am so proud of you.
You made me a mama.
The next six years will see you starting school and the six after that will enter adolescence.
Let me slow down and savor this time.
One six down. Two more sixes to go.
And you’ll be 18 and grown.
Need help understanding your six-year-old? I found this post on what every parent must know about parenting a six-year-old by Megan of Sorta Crunchy incredibly insightful!