A Letter to my Daughter on her Birthday

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My darling, 

Your birthdays are always bittersweet for me, but none more so than this one. Four may not seem like a big deal to the average joe, but for me this one was tough. You see, at one, two and three you were definitely still a baby. You still needed me in all sorts of ways. But four is different. Your need for independence is strong, and while this helps mama in a lot of ways, it also stings. For the last two years I’ve wrangled two kids into carseats and fought with those annoying buckles. After I'd finally settle in to my seat, I’d pause, and think about how much work it really is to just get in to the car. I longed for the day it might be easier to go someplace. Just a few weeks ago, you started to buckle the chest clip by yourself. Then you asked me to stop picking you up to put you in the seat and you climbed in all on your own. Just this past week, a few days after your 4th birthday, all I had to do was open the door for you. You got in by yourself, buckled all the buckles yourself, and even shut the door. I didn’t have to do a thing. Just like that, what I had longed for happened, and it made me so sad. I remember so vividly, putting you into that Graco snugride in 2014 to take you home from the hospital. I’ll just go ahead and be cliche and say it; I have no idea where the time has gone. 

You are fearless my child, and I hope so badly that you keep that trait. At your 4th birthday party the other day, you held a very large, very real snake around your neck like it was nothing. Mama on the other hand, had to turn away. 

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You are so kind. You would never hurt a fly, literally. You’re constantly yelling at me to watch out for the ants while I walk down the sidewalks. On the playground the other day, you made all the kids stop using the slide so you could save the bug that had crawled onto it. And you may actually take us broke with this kindness, because you’re also very empathetic to the less fortunate people we came across. 

You’re a typical 4 year old when it comes to a lot of things, and you certainly test our patience to the fullest at times. I must also point out, however; that you’re incredibly patient and sweet with your sister. In the two years since she's joined us, I cannot count more than a handful of times that you lost your cool with her, no matter how far she pushes your buttons. I may be the grown up, but I’m learning from you. 

You’re so curious, and wise beyond your years. For the past few weeks, you’ve gone to bed with Daddy’s Spain textbook from college. You can’t read it, but you pretend, and your made up stories are the best stories I’ve ever heard. You told us the other day, “you want to be a grown up so that you can read books like us.” My heart melted, and I went straight to the library the next day so I could learn how to teach you to read. 

When you were just a few weeks old, we had to make a trip to Johns Hopkins for the developing hemangioma on your chin. At first, I was scared and admittedly a little sad. I didn’t want you to have to deal with the all the stares, remarks and questions from people. Now, it’s such a part of you and I truly can’t imagine you without it. Four years later though, and it is almost completely faded and will one day soon be gone. 

You’re emotional and sensitive in the best ways possible. You’re intuitive and I can tell you that you see and feel things deeply. 

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So while I mourn the bits of my baby that I’m losing, the future looks so exciting with 4-year-old you. You will continue to teach me how to parent and how to be the best me, and also teach me forgiveness when I’m not. 

Until next year, my sweet girl. 

I love you, 

Mommy

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