Today is my daughter’s seventh birthday.
Last year I wrote her this letter on my blog at YummyMummyClub.ca:
I’m saying goodbye to five.
The age of five, that is.
My Baby Girl is turning six this week, and reminds me every time I call her “Baby Girl” that she is NOT a baby, so PLEASE don’t call her that in public!
I don’t remember being six, and I’ve tried pretty hard. So, I decided instead to write my daughter a letter so that if she forgets what six was like, she can refer back to this:
Dear Darling (your sanctioned pet-name for me to use in public),
I wanted to bestow on you some kind of wisdom about how *I* felt about being six, and who I was at that age, but I guess at this stage of my life, mommy’s memory bank has purged some of the clutter to make room for other, more important stuff—like everything I can stuff in there about you.
So, I’m writing this letter to you to preserve forever who you are right now, as you turn six years old. I hope one day we can read this together, laughing and smiling as we remember what an incredible little girl you were and know from what I say here that you were always destined to become the amazing woman you will be then.
At six, my darling daughter, you still see the magic in the world—hold that tight for as long as you can. Keep asking all of your questions and continue finding the universe so full of wonder.
At six, you still love me the most-est and think that I am totally awesome . . . most of the time. Hold that tight for as long as you can also, ok?
At six, you don’t know of the awful things that can and do happen in our world—I pray every night that you never learn of them.
At six, you are so full of confidence. You are the star of your own universe—and mine—and have no inner bully to contend with. I desperately hope that never changes.
At six, you are learning to read, and doing a damned fine job of it, especially when your father and I back off and let your fierce little determination force you to sound out your words independently.
At six, you show very little interest in dolls of any sort. My inner Feminist is doing jumping-jacks. You prefer instead to savour your hour-per-day of iPad time playing Minecraft, or building towers with your blocks, or putting together train sets—but always doing all of this in some sort of costume that is usually a mash-up of lion-sporting-costume jewellery and a hula skirt.
At six, you still adore your big brother, but have discovered that he doesn’t always want to play children’s games with you anymore, because he is now a teenager. You have adapted by gaining his attention with pest-like shenanigans. I love your persistence and your ingenuity, despite the headaches the subsequent bickering with him causes me.
At six, you still don’t know what day it is or what time it is, and don’t really care. I know sometimes this frustrates me, but soon enough you will join the rest of the world in their obsession with time and its value, so for now I try to chillax a little and not let time control me so much either.
At six, you are becoming funny, and I love it. Not toddler cutesy-pie kind of funny, but genuinely witty and intelligent funny. This thrills me almost as much as your spectacular reading does.
At six, you are a messier eater now than you were as a baby. I have no explanation of why this is, but I have begun to buy stock in the various stain-remover companies. Sometimes your mucky face warms my heart and is super cute and I will kiss it no matter what goo is covering it. I’m sorry that at other times it frustrates me, but I know you will eventually (hopefully) become more tidy. You have no fear of getting dirty when you play, either, as your appearance demonstrates every day when I pick you up from school. Despite my grumblings, I’m actually proud that you are not prissy, like your mama.
At six, you are such an incredible dancer. Your love of moving your body to the beat shines through in your talent and the gigantic grin puffing those delicious cheeks every time you bounce off the sofa to bust a move around the room.
At six, you still get really torqued up when you make mistakes, which simultaneously worries me and makes me ashamed because I know exactly where you learned to be a perfectionist. You don’t need to be perfect, my darling, you already are, even with your faults and mistakes. Go easy on yourself—this is what being human is all about. I hope that lesson comes sooner and easier for you than it has for me.
At six, you are beginning to choose outfits that don’t make my eyeballs whine, and thankfully you finally understand that halter tops are inappropriate attire in January.
At six, you are still learning that doing the opposite of what mommy or daddy asks does not mean you are in control. Conversely, mommy and daddy are also learning that control is not always necessary for good parenting.
At six, you think that “pretty” means sparkles, fancy dresses, shoes, and a bow in your hair. I know you are so intuitive and observant that you will soon absorb the fact that beautiful is only partially about what you look like on the outside. I want you to continue knowing how gorgeous you truly are—inside and out.
At six, you are loud, but you come by it honestly—from your father. I have no idea where you get your shouty-ness from, but I love you even when my inner ears are numb.
At six, you are just starting to think about the hardships of your life prior to adoption, and the hardships that adoption may bring you later in life. As much as I wish I could, there is nothing I can do to stop the inevitable moments of sadness and anger that you will experience as you grow older and reflect on the circumstances of your life that brought you into mine. I promise to be here for you if you want to talk about it, or simply hold your hand, huggle you if you need to cry, and support you through any journey you need to take—emotionally or otherwise—to find peace with your adoption legacy.
At six, you are a miracle, a spark, a gift.
My heart expands with each of your birthdays.
Happy Birthday my darling Baby Girl. I hope you have your best year ever.
This year, I feel like that’s a hard one to top, frankly. Yet, I’m going to try.
My Baby Girl (yes, we reached a compromise that I could still call her that in private and online, just not in front of her friends),
You are now seven years old. While many of the things I wrote about you on your sixth birthday are still the same – your wit, your charm, your amazing reading skills, your messy eating, your beauty, your dance abilities – some things have changed.
You have experienced hardships this past year that I had hoped you would never know, yet you have shown your brave resilience in your triumph over these hardships. Thank you for putting your trust in me to guide you through and for helping me get through them with you.
You have also become aware of some of the horrors of our world – you have learned what guns can do, what murder means, and sadly, experienced your first taste of overt racism. My heart aches for the wounds these lessons have inflicted on your sweet and tender heart, while at the same time loves you even more for refusing to let these painful events shadow your brilliant sparkling light.
You have become even more adamant about standing up for yourself, which I applaud, even when you are standing up to me and making me silently wish you weren’t always so strong and independent!
You have learned about the birds and the bees this year. Oh, I know some parents will be shocked by that, but inquisitive, bright children who grow up hearing the words “birth mother” will obviously want to know what “birth” means sooner rather than later, and that explanation just leads to more and more questions. Thank you for being so mature about the discussion and I only hope you continue to trust me with all your questions about sex and relationships.
Your love of crafts, doing artwork and creating inventions astounds me. The creativity that flows from you is something I wish I had outside of my play with words, but I guess we all have creativity in us somewhere and I adore how you express yours.
Your conversations about adoption and your birth mother are becoming exactly what many of the books I’ve read predicted they would. I understand your very deep need to fantasize her perfection and your reunion with her. I don’t feel jealousy during these chats, only heartache for you and how heavy your burden must be.
At seven, I am seeing glimpses of what you will be like as a teen. Sometimes I am a little frightened, I will admit, but I also see a girl who takes my words about self-respect and self-control very seriously, so I trust you will keep those words in your memory when we are apart.
Just recently I let you attend a birthday party without me present. I don’t think you know how hard that was for me, but I am trying to accept that as you grow older, I will need to let go more and more. I want so badly to protect you from anything and anyone that could harm you, but I also know that taking that job too seriously can also cause you harm. I want you to have the freedom to experience the world in your own way, without me always standing in front of you with my sword drawn and shield thrust forward. You are so intelligent and brave, I know you can do things without me and be just fine.
Happy birthday, my darling Baby Girl, my Captain Sassypants, my sun, my moon and my stars. I love you to infinity and back, infinity times. xoxo
Photo: Christine Cousins Photography