On Your Fifth Birthday

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Big Kid

Dear Griffin,

Somehow we have managed to keep you alive for half a decade. As a new mother up with you at all hours of the night, learning about you, learning about myself, I wondered sometimes how we would make it through this together. Not physically surviving, of course- I was pretty sure we could manage that much. But I was so tired. You were so delicate. I had expectations. You were demanding. My entire life morphed into something unrecognizable overnight. So my questions were more- how will we get through this all in one piece? How will we get through this and be happy?

You haven’t just existed for five years. You have thrived. Each struggle we’ve had has been dismantled and replaced by the next, because that is life. But there are far more joys than struggles. There is far more pride and awe and laughter than stress.

You are a miracle dressed as a boy.

Five years ago I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted out of life. I was immature and selfish. I was self-indulgent and flighty. But more than anything, I was insecure. I was 32, married, working a good job with a new Masters degree, and I didn’t believe in my own strength until you insisted that I find it.

You pushed me to believe in myself because you believed in me, and I never wanted you to stop. I wanted to be a person you could always look up to, respect and be proud of. I wanted to challenge myself so that you would challenge yourself one day. I wanted to live outside of my comfort zone and take on new responsibilities so that one day you will live up to your own potential. I wanted to do the things that scared me so that you would never be scared.

I am a different person than the one I was when we met. I am braver, more honest, more empathetic. I am sure of myself, my place in this world, and my family. I am ambitious, stable, and strong. I am grateful for everything that I have. Because of you, I am the woman I always wanted to be.

But this isn’t about me, this is about you and the incredible human that you are. You are five. FIVE. Fiiiiiiivvvvveee. That word gets stuck in my mouth. I just can’t believe that my first born, my tiny baby, my sweet guy is now a Big Kid. It’s completely unavoidable. You have friends and play dates. You have hobbies. You are learning to read and do math. And most astonishing, I am going to register you for kindergarten at your new elementary school tomorrow. Luckily, you still let me call you my baby. In fact, when Evvie stomps and yells “I’m no baby!” you even counsel her “we’ll ALWAYS be mommy’s babies, Evvie.” And its true.IMG_6011

And that is just the tip of the iceberg with you and your sister. You really are best friends and I feel like it is the most important thing I have ever contributed to in my life. The fact that you and Evvie love each other so much and will always have each other to lean on is the greatest gift your dad and I could have given you. I know your relationship will change over time. There will be moments that you hate each other. But right now she thinks everything you do is the best thing she’s ever seen. And you are so patient and kind to her. She plays every game you ever make up with glowing enthusiasm. And sometimes, out of nowhere, she’ll just turn to you and say “I love you, Griff”. This is something you have grown and cultivated. She adores you because you are so wonderful, but also because you adore her right back.

You are charming and everyone loves you. All the kids at school want to be around you and you get invited to all kinds of social events. You know exactly what to say to people to make them swoon, though it really is genuine. You know exactly how to make daddy and I melt, especially when it’s what we really need to hear. At the same time, you are sharp and fiery. When you are angry, words do not escape you, and you know exactly what to say when you’re looking to twist the dagger. The good thing is that because you know what you’re doing, you always come to apologize once you’ve cooled out. You never want us to actually hurt.

In fact, you mostly want us to laugh. You love being silly, telling us jokes, and repeating funny things you’ve heard. Your greatest joy is having a punchline land, and you will join us in peals of hysterical laughter until none of us can breathe.

But my very favorite thing is the way you greet me when I pick you up from school. Every single day, no matter what is happening in your life or what your day was like, you look up with a HUGE grin, scream “MOMMY!” and nearly knock me over with a running hug. In that moment, everything is perfect.

Five years ago, I spent night after night sitting up with you, both of us sleepless. I talked to the universe about all of the wonderful things I wanted for you in this world. I marveled at your every feature. I wondered why nothing was as I had planned. I was tired and so completely in love with you. We’re both such different creatures now. And yet not much as changed.

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I love you more than I ever knew possible.

love, mama

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