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A Letter to My 5-Year-Old Girl

To My Daughter on Her 5th Birthday

The day is finally here. You're 5!

It's not 13. Sixteen. Twenty-one.

But 5, it seems so . . . so big! A birthday of 5 means the end of preschool days. Swimming on your own (almost). Running free at the park and not looking back to see me, unless of course, you want to impress me with something you're doing.

Five means you're still a child, but yet you're so independent.

You put on your own clothes. You set your own plate. You get your own drink from the fridge.

You feel less like my baby and more like my girl.

Maybe it's that you're my only child, but 5 feels so wonderful and bittersweet. In short five years, we have lost our family (from divorce), rebuilt new ones (you with daddy and you with me), lost our home — and we made a new one, you and me. I went to work and you went to preschool after our former day-to-day loveliness of being together for two and a half years at home.

You have grown so much and made me so proud, yet you, daughter; you have forced me to grow. To make you proud. When I feel defeated and overwhelmed with life, there you are, a sturdy and resilient little spunky trooper reminding me that there are so many beautiful small things in life that truly are big things. You remind me to stop and smell the roses. You remind me to bask in what is and to stop for a few minutes worrying about what is not.

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Every moment of your childhood, from the good (reading for the first time) to the bad (lashing out at me after the divorce), I have cherished the opportunity to be your mom. To have someone to call "my daughter."

You are 5 and you are brave, independent, stubborn, strong-willed, loving, selective, warm, bossy, difficult, easy, cuddly, and tough all in one. You are like me and like your dad, but you are not like me and you are not like your dad.

You are perfectly you.

As you grow, your roots become stronger. You become more defined. More yourself. More beautifully you.

Every day I ask myself to help me make you the best you. I parent the child I have, not the one I think you should be. And as I help you become the best you, you make me a better me.

Barbies. Shopkins. Coloring. Painting. Scootering around the block. Imaginary play.

Your 5-year-old world is so wonderful, I never want to leave. I just want time to stop this very second. To pause long enough that I can remember every little thing you said and every little thing that you did.

While you find out who you are, I relish in who I was. The bigger you get, the more I sometimes see of the little me. I want to reach out to little me and give her a hug. I remind myself that little me grew into a slightly larger version of bigger me, except for with more doubts, fears, and pain.

And I want so much to lift you up into the light and teach you to embrace every single thing about you that makes you you, from the good to the bad. To not let too much weight or opinions of others weigh you down like it did for me.

Your childhood spirit tells me "Relish who you are and do not hope for who you cannot be."

With every joy and setback of your life, you move forward and so do I.

Soon, you will be getting on that school bus. Soon, there will be people old and young in your world that I won't quite know. Strangers that are out of reach. Life will feel less safe and scarier. I will hold my breath and hope more. I will hope the world is kind to you when my eyes are not upon you.

But I know you will make me proud. I know you will shine.

This is life at 5. And I wouldn't stop it for the world, but I sure wouldn't mind pausing it.

I love you.

Happy birthday,

Your proud mother

Image Source: Shutterstock
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